InnoCoffee on Digital Skills
27 April 2015

12 Lessons on Digital World from Saskia van Uffelen

InnoCoffee took place last week, and we met yet more ambitious young people that joined a discussion with Saskia Van Uffelen, Digital Champion of Belgium and CEO of Ericsson Belux, about what digital skills are needed to  be competitive in 21st century and how they can be acquired. We’ve put together a short list of fundamental things that we learned and would like to share with you!

Horizontal thinking. 

Lawyers of yesterday became managing partners because they knew a lot. Today the wheels have turned and it is not enough simply to know. What is crucial is knowing where to find the relevant information and use it effectively, reflecting its relevance to your task and more general trends. In summary, it means that knowledge recited from books is insufficient in the current job market., If you can’t update that knowledge on the go and keep on learning every day, you will be left behind the pack.

Don’t be stubborn.

Follow the global trends and don’t be stuck solely in the field of your work. Knowing broad details about different fields will help you develop a bigger picture of what is actually happening in the industry.

Focus on data. 

Using a smartphone is not a digital skill that will make you stand out in the crowd in the digital age. The data revolution is constantly creating and updated new services.. The digital world is unstoppable. Sharing of data will continue to become more widespread, whether you like it or not, so you had better keep an eye on developments in this field  and equip yourselves with the skills to capitalise!.

Choose measurable KPIs.

Key Performance Indicators, also known as KPI or Key Success Indicators (KSI), help an organization define and measure progress toward organizational goals. KPIs will help you to build a better strategy no matter what field you work in because now everything is measurable.

Seek for a reputation, not a job. 

The first move young people can make is to seek for a reputation, not just for a job. The main question is how can you add value to  a big company? The answer is in applying everything you know to your daily tasks and be part of the team that works to grow the company.

Business models are changing. 

Companies are changing their business strategies as digital brings new opportunities in the market requiring new tools, new patterns to generate sales revenues, new operational factors that will enable to reach and maintain profitability. A company’s business model specifies the target customer groups, but the 2015 customer comes with new demands developed by modern digital services – this is where being innovative and creative comes in handy. Going with the flow doesn’t cut it anymore – be disruptive, be successful.

Companies need to hire young. 

Young people can stimulate the innovation in companies because they are more open to everything that is new nowadays. They were raised with digital tools and can adapt to usage and integration of technology faster than their analogue counterparts. In addition, they identify new opportunities based on their needs.

Your job is your project.

Managing your job as a project will provide you with more satisfaction. You’ll know what are the priorities, where you have to commit more and what skills need to be improved.

Digital needs time.

If you want to do a transformation, it takes three years to change the culture of an organisation. Every decision you make, must be a calculated one that will take you to the desired point  in the most painless way – it takes time, even though instinct pushes you to race to the finish.

It’s consumers’ responsibility when it comes to the privacy. 

What information you share is up to you! There is legislation that can protect, to some extent, and companies should also do their due diligence, however at the end of the day is up to you to decide who needs to know personal details about your life. Paraphrasing Saskia van Uffelen, if you leave your door open through the night, can you blame anyone but yourself when your TV goes missing?

Everybody should know, at least, what coding is about.

It’s a great beginning and a solid foundation to build on. Learning to code can be incredibly rewarding, give you a new appreciation for technology and introduce countless career opportunities. In fact, software development jobs are expected to grow by 22 percent between 2012 and 2022- significantly higher than other occupations.

Get your hands dirty.

It will take around 20 years until the universities will have changed their curriculum to fit the digital age. Universities give you basic information to introduce you to the world with a theoretical background, but, if you decide to get an internship, you’ll get a chance to apply the theoretical information and gain some hard skills. It’s no secret, that employers value experience and skills above all, so get out there and get your hands dirty.

These things are guaranteed to increase your overall digital know-how, and you can dig deeper into them on your own. The digital revolution has touched the lives of virtually every consumer and business around the globe. As a result, digital skills, in combination  with IT digital literacy, is becoming the bare minimum, rather than a competitive advantage.