The pandemic has accelerated virtual and hybrid working, and also digital transformation more generally. To be successful beyond the pandemic, businesses need agility and scalability, which means digital-first mindsets, and data-first cultures.
COVID-19 exposed digital inequality in the workplace.
Since early 2020, technology has been used in really innovative ways to help all areas of society, especially in healthcare and education.
At the same time, the workforce has been reflecting on the pros and cons of more virtual working environments and giving thought to how, when, and where, they want to work.
Many are prioritizing their wellbeing – working to live, not living to work – and now expect support and investment from their employers to make this a reality. This means that companies need to re-evaluate their values, and how they make them real in a supportive, ever more virtual, working environment.
Part of this re-evaluation needs to include how organizations support their people in upskilling – prioritizing training has been proven to reduce organizational risk, as well as ensure long-term employee satisfaction and engagement, strengthen business performance, as well as help to retain top talent – with the fear of a ‘Great Resignation’ continuing in 2022, this can’t be ignored.
The ever-growing demand for data and digital skills
A digital-first market means that company risk and compliance teams, alongside data analyst roles, need to be at the heart of today’s modern business. The most complex business challenges, wherever you look across a company, need people with data and digital-first capabilities to solve them.
The traditional annual standardized compliance and data training won’t cut it anymore – data threats are becoming more and more frequent and costly and are adapting at pace.
IBM’s recent Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021 found that the average cost of a breach was USD 1.76 million less at organizations with a mature ‘zero trust’ approach compared to organizations whose approach to information security assumes a data breach won’t occur.
As a result of home and hybrid working, many organizations have lost control of their data. A reported 37% of global organizations have experienced a ransomware attack in the last 12 months. This is likely to increase if companies don’t provide their people with the skills to mitigate and manage cyber-attacks.
Successful cyber-attacks can cause major damage for businesses, affecting the bottom line as well as the business’ overall standing and customer trust. In the ideal workforce, all employees would instantly recognize this modern threat and adapt accordingly to minimize long-term risks as they begin to unfold.
Companies must consider training that re-educates employees on evolving cyber security risks, complements any existing security awareness training, and increases knowledge of how to reduce the impact of an attack.
Human error often plays a major role in making businesses worldwide vulnerable. Employees, through a lack of knowledge, are putting the businesses they work for at increased risk. For example, employees with local administrator rights commonly disable security solutions on their computers and let viruses spread to the entire corporate network.
Addressing the data skills gap
Alongside the current talent crisis, it’s become evident that businesses must invest in upskilling existing talent in areas like data analytics to help improve business efficiencies and drive growth.
For example, all employees need skills that provide the autonomy to read and understand data, instead of relying on others to do it for them. This includes making data dashboards, automating simple tasks, and deriving insights.
For organizations without the analytical skills to make data-driven decisions, it’s very easy to get things wrong and waste time on manual tasks that should be automated.
Today’s business leaders must consider people and technology together, not separately. Those who recognize that they can work together can adapt their organizations faster to new modes of working, placing them ahead of the curve.
Ideally, we should expect to see the traditional risk and compliance teams evolve and expand across our organizations, as companies look to harness the power of AI and data to drive revenue growth and improve efficiencies.
We’ve found that data skills are already vital to individual employee success. This is only set to increase, as many businesses look to improve customer experience by harnessing first-party data.
Understanding the value of data analytics and techniques such as predictive analytics is crucial to instilling a questioning culture, employing applicable leadership qualities, and gaining a company-wide handle on risk.
When we restrict data analysts and IT security skills to a singular team at the back of the office, we do both our organizations and employees a huge disservice.
Chief Technology Officer of Avado
Mike Fenna is the Chief Technology Officer of Avado. Mike Fenna is responsible for internal and external technology strategy and execution through business technology, development, learning platform experience, data & integration, and business transformation functions. Prior to joining Avado in 2018, Fenna spent 6 years in the insurance industry, and 12 years working for large technology companies, including Microsoft and IBM. His role is focused on business and technology transformation.