What skills will become invaluable in the coming years as a result of digitalization? Which attitudes will lead to success? MDI CEO Gunther Fürstberger discusses in the following expert interview with the University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten how and in which direction HR experts should promote the management talents of tomorrow in order to make the future yours.
This article was originally published in German by the University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten (02/2020).
What influence does digitalization have on companies or management?
Digitalization is the third great revolution in human history after the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution. Only with the difference that it is much faster. Thus, there are hardly any companies whose managers do not have to deal with the chances and risks of the digitalization for their organization if they still want to be relevant in 10 years from now. Digitalization almost always changes the input and, to some extent, the output of companies. Output refers to the services that a company offers. For example, if you sold newspaper ads in the past, you may be running social media campaigns today. Logistics and the shopping experience often change: Internet trading takes the place of retail. The ordered products are delivered and no longer purchased by the customer in the shop.
Of course, there are also many products (e.g. food) and services (cutting hair) that will still be consumed in the real world in 10 years from now. However, we almost always encounter competitors who take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitalization in the development, provision and marketing of services. Those who automate processes on the input side will gain cost and convenience advantages. In recent years, the use of the digitalization potential has become one of the most important management tasks.
What is the importance of management training?
Management needs perception and action skills. It may sound simple, but managers need the ability to always take a step back and look at developments. Those who recognize or sense the trends have the chance to do the right thing. Until now, companies have behaved like animal species during evolutionary changes: Some have become extinct and some have left the terrain to more adapted companies. For example, Toys R Us made room for Amazon.
The management needs the ability to leave the previous success where it belongs: In the past. Training should promote disruptive thinking, which starts with the assumption that many things can change very quickly, and that continuous monitoring of early warning factors gives the decisive competitive advantage. And then it takes bold actions to turn the wheel. An agile mindset, toolset and skillset helps to achieve this. That can be learned. The importance of training increases in proportion to the acceleration of technological development.
What are the professional and digital requirements for young professionals to enter the industry?
In the future there will be programmers and those who are programmed. Admittedly, this is somewhat simplistically expressed, but it does have a true core. Young managers would do well to at least be able to assess the programming potential in their areas of responsibility. It is time for a new dual education and training system: On the one hand, professional qualifications in the profession, e.g. carpenter or business economist, on the other hand, information technology. This does not only apply to young up-and-coming managers. Even 50-year-old managers should continuously expand their IT understanding. But if you make a habit of dual learning as a junior manager, it is much easier.
What career opportunities are there as a junior employee in companies?
There are more career opportunities than before, as younger employees learn faster, grow up with new technology and are therefore more able to recognize changes and take the necessary steps with more courage. Many revolutions in human history have been started by young people. In the past, some professions required a certain minimum age to be taken seriously. Today there is more of a maximum age. Take a look at the demographics of the workforce at Silicon Valley companies. There is an enormous number of employees between 20 and 30, and Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, says: “When you are 50, concentrate on developing 20 to 30-year olds, because they are better than you.” At the same time, experience should also be used as a counterweight.
As an expert, do you have a particularly helpful tip for success in management in the field of digital transformation?
Learn to surf: Watch the waves of disruption that are constantly breaking in, pick the right one and surf it with passion.
About the interview partners
The University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten attaches great importance to the development of the digital skills of its students. The study programmes Management & Digital Business (Bachelor) and Economics (Master- und Finanzkommunikation) or the Master’s programme Digital Marketing impart economic and digital skills as a basis for a career in management through practical training and further education. You can find more information about studying economics at the FH St. Pölten here.
MDI offers tailor-made leadership development training to companies and supports organisations in aligning their goals with the appropriate leadership culture. Every year, up to 900 people come together and take advantage of the wide range of continuing education opportunities for consulting, coaching, therapy and other disciplines of change.