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How to Upskill Your Workforce in the Digital Era

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25 January, 2022

The Digital Era is upon us. Due to the ongoing pandemic, several enterprises have gone "digital" overnight. Remote working has become more mainstream. Customer expectations are constantly changing, leading to a skills gap within organizations. As per research by the World Economic Forum,

  • Technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will lead to a need for reskilling more than 1 billion people by 2030.
  • By 2022, 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs will change.

In other words, the world is undergoing a technological shift, with the business landscape constantly in a state of flux. The need of the hour is to create a digitally-savvy workforce by reskilling and upskilling employees in core digital areas. This is exactly what IBM is doing, as it has committed to upskilling 30 million people with new skills for the jobs of "tomorrow" by 2030. 

Proactively addressing the skills gap can add US $11.5 trillion to the global GDP by 2028 according to estimates by the World Economic Forum. So that's where upskilling platform plays its crucial part! 

Keep reading to get to the meat of the matter. In this blog, we will explore

The top-3 technologies that will emerge as a must-have for thriving organizations
The core competencies needed to build a digitally-fluent workforce, which can serve as the foundation for future-ready organizations
Useful strategies that enterprises can embrace to upskill their biggest asset—the people

Let's jump right in.

Top 3 Imperative Digital Skills for the Increasingly Digital World

#Digital Skill 1: Data Analytics and Reporting

According to a report titled "Jobs of Tomorrow: Mapping Opportunity in the New Economy" by the World Economic Forum, here's a list of the fastest-growing professions of the future:

clusters of professionsData scientists are increasingly becoming instrumental in driving business growth and continuity. They are responsible for leveraging Big Data and reporting tools to identify trends and patterns between huge data sets.



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Competencies required: The competencies related to data analytics can be categorized into three main areas:

A. Analytical Competency: This category requires the ability to

  • Understand business processes and relevant KPIs
  • Prepare analytic reports for the enterprise
  • Find patterns between customer demands and organizational methods
  • Engage in business design and process modelling

B. Data Management Competency: This category embraces the ability to

  • Engage in software management

  • Prepare insights for strategic decision-making

  • Communicate and visualize new insights

  • Craft data-relevant laws, guidelines, norms, and standards

  • Work with existing and new analytic methods, tools, and technology

  • Select suitable tools and statistical methods

  • Balance benefits and costs, and engage in multivariate analysis

  • Scout for new and relevant data sources

C. Technical Data Competency: This category requires data scientists to have a fair understanding of

  • Programming languages

  • Mathematical and statistical-based skills 
  • Machine learning

  • Social media analytics

  • Mobile sensor-based analytics

  • Process/text/web mining


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Top Strategies to Upskill Your Workforce in Data Analytics and Reporting:

  • Assess the future talent needs: The first task for business leaders is to map out the skills gap by looking at the company's needs and assessing the number of employees required to advance business goals in the future as well as catering to the existing talent gap.
  • Review the talent to prioritize the right skills: Instead of hiring new talent, enterprises should focus on improving the skill sets of the existing talent. Alternatively, they can hire selectively for strategic business objectives. To enable both of these approaches, the leaders should think of driving a talent analysis program to gauge the shortage in data science fields such as data analytics, data architecture, data engineering, etc.
  • Strengthen partnerships with academia: Enterprises should tie-up with reputed universities, business incubators, and the startup ecosystem to leverage the best-in-class data talent and onboard them into the organization. Plus, it helps build a culture of continuous learning and skill development within the organization.

#Digital Skill 2: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Competency required: As per a recent Deloitte survey, organizations are increasingly using AI, automation, digitization, and data-driven decision-making to drive pandemic-related recovery. Clearly, finding the right talent to make the most of AI opportunities will continue to be a significant priority for organizations.

In fact, according to a report by Microsoft, here are the eight most important human and digital capabilities required for leading the way in AI:

Advanced analytics: The top-most priority for businesses is to hire functional AI experts who can understand business problems and deploy AI solutions more effectively.

Data management: Data management capabilities come in second. To build an efficient AI infrastructure within the company, enterprises need to have a steady stream of AI talent that can engage in data management-related tasks.

AI leadership: According to the survey, the third most important priority is for leaders to be able to analyze and articulate a clear vision for AI.

Open Culture: The fourth core competency needed is to bring about a greater sense of transparency with the existing AI projects as well as the desired results. Building a culture of openness and collaboration is key to a winning AI strategy.

Emerging technology: The fifth competency requirement entails understanding how to implement the right mix of emerging technologies.

Agile development: The sixth core need is to drive fast experimentation and iterative processes using emerging technology. This will accelerate the internal learning processes.

External alliances: The seventh core need on the list is to have the ability to drive external alliances and bring about greater efficiency and control within the AI projects.

Emotional intelligence: Integrating an important aspect of behavioural science, the eighth core need is for AI talent to have a healthy balance of complex technical skills as well as advanced human cognitive skills.

Top Strategies to Upskill Your Workforce in AI-related Tasks and Technologies:

Assess current skills via a thorough skills assessment: To succeed in an AI-enabled world, organizations need to assess the current and desired state of skills to understand how the talent can support the future AI vision.

Plus, there needs to be an increased focus on aligning the current business strategy with why AI is needed—be it to solve specific business issues or achieve strategic objectives.


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Case Study: Canadian Crown Corporation Leveraged Analytics to Analyze Future Skills Needs

The challenge: A Canadian corporation was struggling with the changing workforce trends, leading to a rising need for digital and data skills.

The solution: To drive strategic workforce planning and identify the skills-talent gap, the organization conducted a series of workshops for each department to

- Identify external and internal factors that were impacting the workforce

- Analyze key skills/tasks that were rising or diminishing in importance

- Chart out the skills identified to respective roles for prioritization

- Define skill and role-gap mitigation strategies to close the skill gaps (for instance, "borrowing" short-term talent, creating a base of internal talent, etc.), reduce upskilling costs, and quantify the impact on the workforce.

An analytics tool was used to integrate deeper insights into mitigation strategies and embrace an action-oriented approach to closing the talent gap. In simpler words, organizations need a team of data analysts for nearly every kind of business use-case/function.

Conduct a learnings-need assessment: Once the extent of the skills gap is analyzed, enterprises should assess their current training and learning programs to gauge efficacy. Business leaders should also review the methods and channels used for learning to assess the impact of the learning outcomes.

Develop a learning strategy and make learning a part of the organizational DNA: The next logical step is to create a learning roadmap—one that complements the recruitment strategy. What's important to remember is that the upskilling roadmap should be a joint effort between the business leaders, the HR team, and the Chief Learning Officer. Luckily, there are different kinds of learning formats organizations can leverage to their advantage:

learning-modality-mechanism#Digital Skill 3: Digital Marketing and Sales

Competency required: Digital marketing and sales have emerged as the backbone of organizations. As per a recent LinkedIn report, among the top 10 most in-demand jobs, a digital marketer is sixth on the list with 860,000 job openings. To ace the digital marketing profession, marketers should possess the following skills and competencies:

  • Content strategy
  • Video marketing
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Ads
  • Marketing channels
  • Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing
  • Social media

Top Strategies to Upskill Your Workforce in Digital Marketing: 

Follow these strategies to upskill your workforce and help them take advantage of the new digital tools easily:

Drive professional development programs and opportunities for certification: Tie up with reputed learning platforms and focus on driving professional certifications for the workforce. For instance, you can create a specialized certification process as IBM did for its sales employees instead of providing a generalized training program.

Case Study: How IBM's Specialized Training Program Helped Its Sales Team to Deliver a 7% Increase in Win Rate and a 37% Reduction in Days to Close a Deal

The challenge: The sales pipeline was increasingly going digital, with much of the sales being controlled by the buyer—not the salesperson. The organization wanted to engage clients better by going beyond the "traditional" selling techniques.

The solution: To enable the salespeople to become more personally, socially, and digitally literate, the brand partnered with the Digital Marketing Institute to create a customized digital and social selling program that met its unique business requirements. The program helped in numerous ways.

One, it repositioned the sales team as digital leaders. This was done by rebranding the team as IBM Digital Sales—a name that recognizes and reflects the need for increased social and digital engagement.

Two, the brand armed the sellers with essential skills training using a globally recognized Certified Digital Selling Professional program. This certification effort

- Improved staff engagement

- Built the team's confidence by as much as 50% in the aspect of "digital selling"

- Enabled the workforce to learn new skills and advance their career systematically

- Delivered a 7% increase in win rate

- Led to a 37% reduction in the number of days it took to close a deal

Drive targeted and flexible microlearning programs: These programs are a win-win for all as they provide employees with specific skills using short bursts of education workshops/classes, a strategy that saves employees valuable time and keeps them interested in continuous learning.

Recognize potential within the existing talent and provide opportunities to upskill: As per a Capgemini and LinkedIn report, around 55% of digitally talented employees will leave their current employer if they feel that staying is limiting their skill development. In simpler words, employers should proactively identify the already digitally-savvy employees and provide them with ample opportunities to retrain and upskill. If you're not providing opportunities for digital skill development, you'll lose out your most talented employees to the competition. 

Tying it All Together

The digital workplace is constantly changing, and so are the talent requirements. Organizations cannot become complacent, particularly if they wish to retain high-performing talent and maintain their competitive edge.

To conclude, understanding the organization's current needs, assessing the existing skills-talent capabilities, and reviewing the efficacy of the current learning programs are important pillars to support a future-ready workforce.


Do you know what's common between Hexaware, Capgemini, and Cyient? They all use iMocha's talent solutions. So, why not try iMocha?


Tanvi Sharma
Tanvi Sharma
Tanvi Sharma is a Content Strategist at iMocha. A seasoned marketer and branding consultant, she likes sewing stories together to help brands find their true and unique voice. A perfection enthusiast, she believes each and every word should serve a purpose while writing. When she’s not writing for work, she is writing fan fictions and theories, and volunteering at local animal shelters.
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Topics: L&D

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