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A Digital-People Strategy is Critical in Today’s Changing Workplace

To Build a Strong Pool of Digital Talent, Says a New Report from BCG, Companies Must Learn Who These “Digital” Employees Are; Where and How to Find, Recruit, and Retain Them; and What Skills Must Be Developed In-House

BOSTON—As digital transformation continues to disrupt the workplace, companies worldwide can expect a severe shortfall in digital talent by 2020. In fact, a survey of more than 600 senior executives reveals that, even today, the biggest perceived technology challenge for many companies is a lack of qualified employees. To survive, says a report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), companies must hire, train, and retain new pools of skilled digital talent and build digital skills in the existing workforce. The report, How to Gain and Develop Digital Talent and Skills, is part of a series on the New New Way of Working. It is being released today.

As part of their research, the author team analyzed nearly a million recruitment profiles and interviewed a number of digital experts and recruiters to find out more about digital talent today. “Robots are exchangeable, but skills are unique,” notes Rainer Strack, a senior partner at BCG and a coauthor of the report. “Companies need a strategy for finding digital people and building digital skills, or most of their digital initiatives—and companywide transformations—will fail.”

The Digital-People Strategy

In response to the need, BCG has developed a powerful digital-people strategy—one that clearly defines “digital talent,” identifies areas where this talent will have the greatest impact, and reveals how to locate, recruit, and train these essential employees.

The following are among the report’s most critical findings:

  • Digital talent will have the most impact in six specific areas: digital business, digital marketing, digital development, advanced analytics, Industry 4.0, and new ways of working.
  • Within those six areas, just 20 core digital profiles are vital for a sustainable digital transformation in any business—and in any industry.
  • Ranking on 22 factors, BCG has identified the top 80 digital hot spots across four continents. Each of the factors should be taken into consideration when identifying locations with a good supply of digital talent.
  • Having analyzed more than 100 recruiting methods and interviewed more than 50 top recruiters, BCG has uncovered a number of best practices in the search for scarce digital resources. Of these, the most critical is understanding the entrepreneurial, creative, and collaborative mindset of the digital employee.
  • Even more difficult than recruiting for new digital job profiles is the development of digital skills and competencies in the existing workforce. BCG has identified a simple methodology to identify the relevant digital skills and build a digital development strategy.

Creating a Digital Culture

The author team has found that the most important step in the long-term hiring and retention effort is that of creating a true digital culture—one that permeates the organization, brings the entire workforce on the digital learning journey, and inculcates a deep understanding of the company’s digital imperatives. It does little good to hire an artificial-intelligence specialist or a team of data analysts if the rest of the organization has no idea why these new employees have arrived.

“Creating a digital culture means shifting the organizational psyche,” says Ádám Kotsis, a principal at BCG and one of the coauthors of the report. “Companies need to introduce new working methods, such as user-centric and agile product design. And they need to promote creativity and risk taking, creating a culture that allows employees to fail.”

A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or


The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with offices in more than 90 cities in 50 countries.

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