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People strategy for the digital age: A new take on talent

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PwC 18th Annual Global CEO Survey 21 Rethinking people strategy As business strategies undergo a fundamental re-think, so must organisations' people strategies. A wholesale re-design of work is now required to deal with the opportunities and threats of new technology and digital business models, to meet regulatory requirements or cost targets. Find the right leaders Leaders need to be able to create a culture that encourages and rewards innovation and sets ideas free. But there are also new leadership skills to master – the ability to understand and guide complex organisations that straddle geographic and sector boundaries, and the ability to build and maintain trust in a world where very little is hidden. Organisations must not only find great leaders for today, but encourage a pipeline of adaptable leaders for the unknown challenges that will come. Adapt to changing demand In the current climate, some of the most critical strategic decisions to be made will be around people and skills. What are the capabilities you need to compete? Can those skills be hired, or existing employees trained? What needs to be automated? Or outsourced? And would a partnership bring you the talent you need? Training and development is absolutely essential in a market where demand changes so rapidly. The development of analytical and digital skills is paramount, but so too is encouraging adaptability throughout the organisation. You don't necessarily know which skills you'll need in the future, so creating a flexible workforce willing to adapt to new challenges is essential. Embrace diversity Success in an increasingly digital world demands a wider range of skills, a broader talent pool and new ways of thinking. It's important for CEOs and their HR teams to take a more active role in seeking out fresh sources of talent, encouraging divergent thinking and broadening the criteria for succession planning. There will always be an element of 'doing the right thing' around diversity – and that shouldn't be undervalued – but CEOs increasingly see improved business performance from their diversity programmes. Know, and value, your people It's easy to lose sight of the value of people in a digital world. The real winners won't necessarily be the organisations that secure the best and latest technology; it'll be those that use the technology they have to get the best out of their people – and vice versa. And that means using talent data wisely. We have access to more data than ever, but information means nothing unless it's intelligently analysed and the results fed into talent strategy. Create value through HR CEOs can't and shouldn't be expected to do all this alone. A strong and dynamic HR function, fit for the digital age, is required to deal with the almost overwhelming challenges presented by the radical disruption sweeping through entire industries. CEOs, in turn, need to value the best that HR can bring and empower HR leaders to evolve the function to match today's – and tomorrow's – business needs.

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