Are you economically relevant in the Digital Age?



Guest post by Ade McCormack, Digital Strategist, Near futurist, Keynote Speaker and author of a new book entitled “Beyond Nine To Five; Your Career Guide for the Digital Age”.

Ade has spent the last three decades plus working with some of the world’s leading brands and is a digital leadership guru of high international repute – you will find him on YouTube. He is a renowned near-futurist and keynote speaker.

Intro over; here are his thoughts on Talent in the Digital Age.

Ade: Firstly let’s look at the principal actors, namely:

  • The talent.
  • The talent consumers.
  • The talent defenders.
  • The talent suppliers.

Looking at each in turn:

The talent

The term talent feels like a slightly more humane term then human resources or personnel. It possibly has a bit of a ‘youth’ feel to it. The reality is that most talent today are simply acting as technology placeholders in the factory machine, whether that factory is furnished or is criss-crossed with conveyor belts. As technology advances become asymptotic, the placeholders are being filled by technology. We have seen blue collar jobs being automated. We are now seeing white collar jobs being blue-collarised.

Talent in the digital age means having a capability that cannot be replicated by software or a robot. Creativity is key here. If you are a ‘process cog’ in the machine, you are facing extinction. Talent looks less like a bank clerk and more like Lady Gaga, in the digital economy.

The talent consumers

HR functions need to adjust to the new realities of talent management. Firstly, they are on a path to mastery, your organisation is, at best, a stopover to acquire the skills for the next phase of their journey. That is why talent engagement is so important. The longer they stopover the better the return you get on the recruitment investment.

Step one for HR professionals is to stop recruiting with compliancy as the primary competence, and actively seek out talented disruptive thinkers. Step two is to come to terms with the reality that you are the service provider not the police in respect of the talent’s wellbeing.

The talent defenders

There used to be dignity in labour. Today any such charitable behaviour just makes you globally uncompetitive. So the unions need to move away from fighting to keep workers employed, despite the economics, and work with the leadership to ensure the workers get the development they need to become world class and future-proofed talent.  The recent UK election results will have clarified any uncertainty around this point.

The talent suppliers

Recruiters, in theory, control the talent pipeline. They allow the talent to focus on doing great work, rather than having to divert their attention to find the next gig. But genuine talent will be self-marketing because their work is their brand. So recruiters need to raise their game to provide value over and above simply finding the next job. The recruitment industry has come a long way over the last twenty years. But there are still too many buzzword bingo boiler room operations that regard the talent as a detail of the sales process. My advice would be to focus your limited love on the candidate rather than the clients.

Whether we are talent or union leaders, we all have to raise our game. The digital age represents a great opportunity for all parties. Firstly we have to realise that the game has changed. And secondly we have to develop a healthy paranoia about our market value on a real-time basis. 

TBL: Ade, as do I, wish you well as you either embark on your career or adapt to the momentous changes of the digital age. 

Ade’s magnum opus is a reality check for each and everyone’s economic relevance.