Building a Digital-savvy Workforce: Establishing a Spectrum of Digital Profiles

Thesis (MA)

Advisor(s): Altus Viljoen (altus.viljoen@tum.de)

Context

With the rapid advancement of digital transformation across industries, we are seeing an increasing need from companies to transform their workforce to be ready for digital transformation (Eden et al., 2019). In industry reports, terminology such as “digital-first mindset” and “digital-ready culture” has been used to emphasize that not only technical skills are necessary for digital transformation, but also soft skills (Capgemini Research Institute, 2020; Duerr et al., 2018; Westerman et al., 2019).

Moreover, as digital transformation goes beyond traditional IT-enabled organizational transformation (Wessel et al., 2021), companies are seeing workers from all qualification backgrounds – vocational workers, academic graduates, support staff, etc. – all being affected by digital transformation (PwC & WifOR, 2016). As workers often show strong fear of replacement as a consequence of digital transformation, it has been suggested that companies assist workers in identifying their unique contributions and connect those contributions to components of the digital transformation process – hence that new technologies are framed in such a way to act as means for employees to add to their current strengths (Tabrizi et al., 2019).

However, we are seeing a two-fold problem concerning this digital workforce transformation. Firstly, despite high-level calls for a “digital-ready culture”, we are still lacking an understanding of what competencies – both technical and soft skills – are necessary to equip workers with to achieve such a workforce. Secondly, we also don’t yet know how training and upskilling must be tailored for different worker groups/levels to both best support workers in their job and build a digital workforce for the company.

Therefore, this research aims to investigate which skills and competencies are necessary for different worker groups. To address this gap, we conduct an empirical study to answer the research question: How should a spectrum of digital profiles look like in order to establish a digital-savvy workforce? This study thus aims to collect evidence to ultimately identify and structure technical and soft skills necessary for digital transformation, define different target groups of workers to be trained, and investigate the skills necessary for each group.

Task(s)

  • Review relevant literature and existing research methods in the respective field
  • Conduct interviews with relevant stakeholders
  • Identify technical and soft skills necessary for digital transformation
  • Define suitable target groups of workers
  • Cluster identified themes within in the data
  • Derive a spectrum or framework for digital workforce transformation
  • Discuss implications of findings for industry and academia

Requirements

  • High degree of autonomy and individual responsibility
  • Interest in research on digital transformation
  • Good communication skills e.g., to conduct interviews
  • Experience in qualitative research is beneficial

Further Information

The thesis can be written in English or German. The topic can also be adapted to your interests. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. Please send your application including our application form, a current transcript of records, and your CV to altus.viljoen@tum.de. Please note that we can only consider applications with complete documents.

Literature

Capgemini Research Institute. (2020). How automotive organizations can maximize the smart factory potential.

Duerr, S., Holotiuk, F., Wagner, H.-T., Beimborn, D., & Weitzel, T. (2018). What is digital organizational culture? Insights from exploratory case studies. Proceedings of the 51st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences,

Eden, R., Burton-Jones, A., Casey, V., & Draheim, M. (2019). Digital transformation requires workforce transformation. MIS Quarterly Executive, 18(1), 1-17.

PwC, & WifOR. (2016). Der Einfluss der Digitalisierung auf die Arbeitskräftesituation in Deutschland: Berufs- und branchenspezifische Analyse bis zum Jahr 2030.

Tabrizi, B., Lam, E., Girard, K., & Irvin, V. (2019). Digital transformation is not about technology. Harvard Business Review, 13(March), 1-6.

Wessel, L., Baiyere, A., Ologeanu-Taddei, R., Cha, J., & Blegind-Jensen, T. (2021). Unpacking the Difference between Digital Transformation and IT-enabled Organizational Transformation. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 22(1), 102-129.

Westerman, G., Soule, D. L., & Eswaran, A. (2019). Building digital-ready culture in traditional organizations. MIT Sloan Management Review, 60(4), 59-68.