Narrowing the Digital Talent Divide

May 22, 2018 | Tom Bernot


The importance of digital talent development within an organization comes with little debate. In nearly every industry, business leaders are searching for ways to bolster their workforce’s digital skillsets. Despite the pertinence of technological advancement and digital disruption over the last two decades, the digital talent divide has not diminished—in fact, some experts say it has grown.

A recent study from Capgemini and LinkedIn found that 54% of organizations surveyed believe the widening digital talent gap is obstructing digital transformation efforts and negatively affecting market competitiveness. The discrepancy in skills necessary for innovation has made it increasingly difficult for businesses to execute successful digital strategies. An organization’s ability to adapt and grow in the current landscape is largely contingent on narrowing the digital talent gap and procuring the resources required for lasting success.

The Necessity of Soft & Hard Digital Skills

In the past, it was widely believed that an organization’s IT department could single-handedly manage any digital initiative assigned by the leadership team. Technical employees, however, have historically struggled to tie technology initiatives back to the overarching business goals, and lack the internal clout required to make much headway on large digital projects. While the CIO still largely owns today’s digital transformation efforts, both hard and soft digital skills are vital to organizational success.

Hard digital skills are described as expertise in specific areas of technology such as analytics, big data, cybersecurity, virtual reality, and web development. Soft digital skills, on the other hand, are characterized by operational prowess in areas like customer-centricity, collaboration and change management. While there is a growing demand for individuals who possess both digital skillsets, these hybrid professionals are difficult to come by.

It has become increasingly evident that technology skills alone will not successfully enable business innovation. Professionals that demonstrate a “digital-first mindset” are necessary for a successful digital transformation. Recognizing what skills are necessary for your own organization’s longevity is the first step forward in bridging the digital talent gap.

Invest in Your Own Talent Ecosystem

With digital talent shortage affecting entire industries, it can be challenging to recruit and hire new employees. According to, by 2020 there will be one million more technology positions open than graduating students. Digitally talented employees have many companies competing for their attention, making “hiring wars” between businesses commonplace.

While there is much discussion surrounding recruiting and hiring new talent, internal basic digital literacy training can open a world of opportunity for your business. Talented, motivated workers within your own organization can compete in a digital environment when equipped with the right tools.

To support a digital transformation initiative, talent development must be proactive. Consistent training is vital for both the employer and employee in order to get, and stay, ahead of the rapidly changing marketplace. Organizations must pay attention to the widening digital talent gap or risk losing existing expertise. According to Capgemini, over half of digitally talented employees say they are willing to move to another organization if they fear their digital skills are stagnating at their current employer. 

Actively work to provide upskilling opportunities for promising personnel. This may include providing public speaking training for your website developers or basic coding for your content marketers, marrying both soft and hard digital skills. If an employee feels that their employer is invested in them and their development, they will in turn become more productive—resulting in a greater bottom-line.

Fill in the Blanks

If your digital transformation strategy is already well-underway, there may not be time for additional hiring and/or training opportunities. A short-term solution to bridge the digital talent gap may include hiring an outside change management firm or digital consultancy to fill in the blanks.

Agencies like Falls Digital offer services such as skills gap assessments to determine the digital proficiency of current employees. While your workforce sharpens its digital prowess, outside change management agents also assist with digital transformation efforts through day-to-day project management. This allows for agile monitoring and execution of discrete tasks and projects that support your overarching digital initiatives.

Today increasing innovation in technology has opened the digital talent divide wider than ever before. With mounting pressure for businesses to digitally transform, filling this talent gap is paramount to organizational success. While companies can actively reinvent themselves to attract new talent, upskilling current employees on both soft and hard digital skills can help retain top talent while driving the bottom-line. Organizations that bridge the digital talent gap early on will enjoy a competitive advantage during a time of rapid disruption.

Topics: Future of Work Digital Disruption Digital Leadership

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