People icons in hexagons As theadoption of technologies accelerates, the need for staff up to thechallenge will as well—and the new talent profile will be“dramatically different” in responsibilities (Photo:Shutterstock)

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The workforce of the future will need to respond with agilityand the ability to handle the demands of technology and digitaltasking—but this is one talent shortage that employers can't simplyhire their way out of.

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So says a new report from the Hackett Group that findsthat 85 percent of business services executives in fields rangingfrom finance and HR to information technology, procurement andglobal business services who were surveyed in its 2019 Key IssuesStudy say digital transformation strategies are “high” or“critical” priorities this year.

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Related: Prepare for a skills shift: What employers need todo to adapt their workforce

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Other concerns among these execs include data and analytics,customer-centricity and innovation—all of which directly affectfunctional development priorities for business services, startingwith talent.

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Access to digital talent is a “high risk” to organizationsseeking to digitally transform their operations, and is expected tobe the fastest-growing risk factor over the next year to twoyears—and, conversely, that digital transformation is also having a“high” or “very high” impact on the businesses' overall talent andleadership needs.

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But there just aren't enough candidates out there who possessthe skills needed to drive this digital transformation—andorganizations will have to upskill workers who are already in houseif they're to have a chance of meeting their own future needs.According to the report, the implementation of “smart automation”technologies will affect “[t]ens of millions of enterprise roles,including millions in business service functions.”

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As the adoption of technologies accelerates, the need for staffup to the challenge will as well—and the new talent profile, thereport says, will be “dramatically different” in responsibilitiesand functions. Those new staff will in turn affect how technologiesare implemented, and workers will “require advanced skills andcompetencies such as business acumen, process excellence,relationship management, agility, creativity and innovation.”Workers will need to be able to shift between roles.

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But there are already substantial skills gaps, says the report,requiring HR to be able to identify talent needs, develop andacquire talent and drive talent performance—which means they'llalso have to be able to hang on to workers who possess the skillsnecessary to keep the organization moving forward toward itsgoals.

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And that in itself is a challenge, says the report: “To bolsterperformance as well as recruiting, organizations may need tore-envision their employer value propositions and careerdevelopment models to engage and motivate digital workers.”

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.