To stay ahead in a digital economy, we must dismiss the myth that digital skills are only for a certain few

Kathryn Parsons
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"How many business leaders can confidently say they understand what goes on behind the screen or how to embody a hacker mindset?" (Source: Getty)

To stay ahead in a future digital economy, leaders of any business need to culturally prepare for radical change. Today, the digital skills that underpin the success of our future economy lie in the hands of a small group of people.

How many business leaders can confidently say they understand what goes on behind the screen or how to embody a hacker mindset? But these are concerns that chief executives should be grappling with today.

At Davos this year, Cisco Systems chief executive John Chambers predicted that 2015 would be the worst year yet for cyber attacks. Yet very few companies are employing chief security officers or, importantly, placing them eye-to-eye with their chief operating officers.

It's easy to be scared of the digital revolution. Recent research conducted by the Oxford Martin Institute estimated that 47 per cent of jobs will be replaced by technology in just five years.

We have been here before, as technology has transformed our lives and the global economy time and time again, from the dawn of written communication to the industrial revolution. What are the forces transforming our current economy, and what will the workforce of the future look like?

But the future success of the businesses that underpin our economic growth relies on an ability to innovate and learn.

This is no more apparent than when it comes to talent, as the disparity between the digital haves and have-nots has resulted in a global war for the “technology literati”’. Attracting the best programmers, UX designers, data scientists, games designers or machine learning experts is agenda item number one for start-ups and multinationals alike.

Put simply, the demand for tech talent far outweighs the supply.

We must dismiss the myths and clichés that say digital skills are only for a certain few. That they aren’t for someone my age, someone with my job, someone of my academic background, someone of my gender.

Help empower your workforce, because when taught in the right way, it’s possible to unleash the inner coder, data scientist and hacker within everyone.

It is a period of radical change - and it will take brave, digitally empowered leaders to navigate it. So ask yourself one tough question today: What technology could kill your business?

Then consider how you’ll adapt your company to meet this challenge.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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