No business hoping to thrive in the future can avoid digital transformation. To do so is to risk being left behind by an ever-growing field of competitors who have embraced it as a strategy.
In fact, in some markets, more than a third of companies have already undergone a digital transformation. And, by the end of 2019, two-thirds of global CEOs were set to focus on digital strategies to improve customer experience.
There are a number of initiatives a company looking to digitally transform itself can undertake. One of the most important, however, is to ensure that its employees have the requisite skills to embrace this shift.
Fortunately, the education space itself is digitally transforming and there are a number of online courses that allow businesses to give their employees the skills they need to embrace digital transformation.
Here are 5 of the best courses which are available in South Africa.
Digital transformation and business strategy
South African business executives have traditionally understood digital transformation as a function of the IT department, focused on technology and infrastructure.
In reality, digital transformation affects every aspect of the business and should be baked into its strategy.
When it comes to helping executives understand how to effect this integration, Singularity University has a number of online courses aimed at the transformative role of technology in the workplace.
The institute is a leader in exponential thinking, making it the go-to destination for cultivating the right mindset for digital transformation.
For those looking for something a little more offline, SingularityU South Africa offers a three-day executive program.
Several other institutions offer highly rated digital transformation courses.
MIT, for example, has Digital Business Strategy and Organizational Design for Digital Transformation courses.
The Gordon Institute of Business Science, meanwhile, offers a Leading in a Digital Economy program.
Wits offer Core Concepts in Digital Business course, while its business school offers an Executive Education Programme.
Finally, the University of Johannesburg offers its own Business Innovation course.
The customer experience (CX), should always be at the heart of any digital transformation effort. A business’ primary goal should, after all, be to meet the wants and needs of its customers.
While most people in most businesses understand this intuitively, few wouldn’t benefit from a dive into the practicalities of CX.
Here, the UCT Graduate School of Business’ Customer Centricity in Practice course and the University of Stellenbosch’s Customer-Centric Management Strategy: Principles and Practices course are both incredibly useful.
AI and machine learning
Over the past few years, there have been plenty of fearful headlines predicting that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will result in massive job losses.
While it’s true that these emerging technologies may see some job categories fall by the wayside, they’re actually predicted to be net job creators. New jobs will arise, and this is why there is a need for growth in particular skills.
As AI and ML become increasingly ubiquitous, businesses will have to ensure that their employees understand, and have skills related to, the role of these technologies in the workplace.
In the AI field, GetSmarter offers courses from MIT, Oxford, and Berkley. MIT and Berkely also offer courses in machine learning, while anyone interested in the related field of the internet of things (IoT) can also take a course from MIT.
Big Data and data science
We live in an age of massive data, producing around 2.5-quintillion bytes of data each day. By 2020, there will be around 40-trillion gigabytes of data (40 zettabytes). No matter how big or small a company, it will deal with increasingly large amounts of data.
Any business looking to thrive in the coming years must be able to mine this data and apply insights from it to its overall operations and customer experience.
While a business may eventually need to bring in new talent, it can also upskill its existing staff with the likes of Berkley’s Data Science Essentials and Rice’s Data Science for Business and Data Analysis and Visualisation courses, all available from GetSmarter.
Ultimately, what all these courses underline is that digital transformation is not a static “one-and-done” process. It requires ongoing practice and learning.
Any business set on thriving into the future needs to embrace that mindset and equip its staff to adapt to the evolving demands of digital transformation.