Unlocking the digital future: Upskilling your workforce in the age of digital transformation

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Digitalization—integrating digital technologies into all business areas— fundamentally changes how a business operates and delivers value to its customers. The speed of this transition is quickly opening new avenues for efficiency, innovation, and customer engagement. As it dramatically transforms the business landscape, people will need to learn new skills and ways of doing things to keep up. Therefore, upskilling your workforce is imperative to a smooth digital transformation.

worker in modern grain mill
Embracing a digital transformation, Mulino Marino, a craft flour mill in Italy, has almost fully automated their production – ensuring business continuity and upskilling its workforce in the process.

The impact of digitalization on the workforce

Digitalization is more than just new gadgets. The integrated technology can improve and streamline business processes at every step. Supporting operations from planning to maintenance enhances analytics and decision-making, automates tasks, and personalizes customer experiences. It also fosters new business models, improves internal and external collaboration, and increases market responsiveness.

Today, digitalization affects almost every job, from manufacturing to maintenance. And your workers will feel the impacts of this digital transformation at every phase of implementation.  Here’s how it unfolds across these different phases:

  • Design: Digital tools have changed how we design and manufacture. Now, manufacturers and designers use digital twin software to create and test their ideas long before any real-world model is built. This means fewer mistakes, less waste, and reduced environmental impact from the start. It first ensures everything is right in the digital world– saving time and resources.
  • Installation: In brownfield or greenfield settings, installing digital equipment requires new skills. For example, electricians need to know more than just the physical setup of an installed device. They must also understand how to integrate these devices into digital networks to seamlessly connect with configuration settings, communication protocols, etc. It’s a step up from traditional installation work and involves more tech knowledge.
  • Servicing and lifecycle management: Once digital devices are up and running, they collect data. This data can predict when a device needs maintenance before it breaks down (predictive maintenance) or signal when it’s time for a check-up based on its use (condition-based maintenance). It means improved reliability, less downtime, and fewer resources spent on unexpected repairs. It also leads to more sustainable operations.

The digital imperative: Upskilling challenges and opportunities

It is paramount to form an all-encompassing strategy that ensures the development and nurturing of a digitally competent workforce. This requires continuous learning, ongoing professional development, and a flexible and innovative culture. Given the pace of change, today’s essential technologies may become history tomorrow.

Upskilling the workforce to meet these new digital demands is critical for harnessing digitalization opportunities. Here’s how companies can effectively embrace this transformation:

  • Internal training programs:  Developing competencies within the existing workforce is vital. Utilizing internal training programs fosters a digitally savvy team ready to tackle the complexities of modern technologies.
  • Hiring for digital expertise: Bringing in new talent with specialized digital skills is equally important. These individuals can inject fresh perspectives and expertise into the team, accelerating the digital transformation. Companies that develop internal capabilities and incorporate new engineers into the team build a digitally proficient workforce.
  • Digital leadership development: A cultural shift is needed for digital operations and leads teams to embrace digital advancements. Cultivating a culture of digital innovation and leadership within the organization is crucial.  Leadership development programs focusing on digital fluency empower managers and executives to lead by example. It creates environments where digital innovation thrives.

Charting the paths of the digital journey

While digitalization can have challenges, it also brings great opportunities to those companies willing to navigate the transition thoughtfully. Businesses that create an environment where adaptation and learning are the cornerstones of their operational DNA will have a competitive advantage.

Mulino Marino, an Italian organic flour milling business that has been in operation since 1956, partnered with Schneider Electric’s Alliance Partners to integrate digital solutions into its operations. Today, they are almost completely automated and have optimized production and increased efficiency—helping them meet growing demand without losing the quality of their organic products. Thanks to their digital transformation, Mulino Marino gained more precise product information and increased transparency while continuing to produce the highest-quality flours.

Digitalization efforts at the milling company also helped to fill the gaps in Mulino Marino’s workforce, as younger workers lacked the expertise and experience required for the craft mill. By simplifying complex processes and improving data management, the company ensured its workforce had the skills and knowledge it needed to safeguard the company’s future.

Leading the digital transformation charge

Successful implementation of a digital transformation requires a human element – a digitally savvy workforce. To make that happen, significant internal training, the recruitment of digital experts, and the development of leaders who help guide the migration to digital-centric operational models are necessary considerations for any business seeking to innovate and excel in its operations.

Find out more about how Schneider Electric is committed to helping companies start their digital journeys, upskill their workforce, and develop a digital-first culture.

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