Our recommendation is simple: Companies need to invest in learning.

The following is an excerpt from 6 People Strategies for Successful Digital Transformation, an exclusive white paper from General Assembly. Download the full paper here.

The digital landscape is evolving at a rapid pace, and it’s essential for companies to harness wide-ranging technical expertise in order to stay ahead. Today’s marketers must be able to analyze massive amounts of data, IT workers must be able to design compelling mobile app experiences, and a “product” is no longer only a physical object but could be a website, a piece of content, or even a training curriculum.

General Assembly’s recommendation for keeping up is simple: Companies need to invest in learning. The Economist magazine recently issued a special report that highlighted the importance of “lifelong learning” as a habit that both skilled and unskilled workers must incorporate to keep pace with a rapidly developing economy. They profiled GA’s approach to tech education — including upskilling promising individuals and reskilling those with outdated competencies in data, web development, and design — as an effective way to ensure employees’ skills were kept up to date.

Investing in learning should happen both from an institutional and individual standpoint. The former has to do with the tools, mindset, and organizational structure that will drive the business agenda forward, while the latter has to do with the reskilling that each individual will need to use these tools and thrive in the new organizational context.

Based on a framework for corporate growth developed at INSEAD, the leading business school, and Duke University, we’ve created a three-part framework for your talent strategy:

Below, discover how you can create a culture of continuous education, leverage young and promising employees in creative ways, recruit employees with the right digital skills, and more.

For even more insights and strategies, download our exclusive white paper, 6 People Strategies for Successful Digital Transformation. In the report, executives from top consumer products companies — including L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, and Nestlé — share the key learnings and experiences that have given their businesses a technological edge with today’s connected consumer.

Build an Ongoing Learning Strategy

GA’s experience training teams at hundreds of large companies and tens of thousands of individuals around the world has demonstrated that both basic and advanced digital skills — like coding, data, user experience design, digital marketing, and product management — can be effectively taught to existing workers, given the right motivation and environment. Simple online lessons can help build a basic vocabulary for the digital age, whereas intensive months-long courses develop the next cadre of job-ready web developers and mobile app designers. Regardless of the path, chances are an existing workforce can be “radically reskilled” to meet today’s demands.

A successful “build” strategy must be ongoing. Developing new skills as a one-time investment may meet a short-term gap, but that gap will reappear in the future, given the pace of today’s development. Instead, companies must enable and encourage a habit of “lifelong learning,” and offer training that can be intertwined with daily responsibilities.

Nestlé is one company that has embraced this philosophy. The consumer products giant regularly puts emerging leaders through months-long intensive training programs in leadership skills, supply chain management, and more. Recently, the company has embarked on an eCommerce training initiative aimed at both sales and marketing practitioners. The series of 13 workshops aims to cultivate a toolbox of digital skills including metrics, search, and social media.

According to Sébastien Szczepaniak, VP Group Sales and eBusiness at Nestlé, “As eCommerce blurs the lines between sales and marketing, an organization has to respond accordingly. This means a new set of skills, a new vocabulary, and a new mindset for our sales and marketing team members around the world.”

Borrow Talent From Inside and Outside of Your Organization

One way to transform the way your organization works is to look outside your company’s walls for inspiration, capabilities, and assets — and effectively “borrow” the talent you need to move forward. You can often do this internally, too, through practices that pair promising young employees with company veterans.

Here are three ways companies can “borrow” talent (download the complete white paper for more):

Buy the Talent and Resources Your Business Needs to Grow

Large companies have a range of opportunities to bring new talent into their organizations. However, before any tactic is deployed, it’s critical to create the right environment in which new team members can be successful, one that is rewarding, clear, and open to experimentation.

We recommend three specific steps toward fostering this environment:

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Get more powerful strategies for motivating teams, galvanizing leaders, and leading a successful digital transformation at your organization. Download 6 People Strategies for Successful Digital Transformation, and discover the clear habits, practices, and investments that drive success. Learn how to create a leadership agenda for change, embrace agility, bring data to every conversation, and more.

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At General Assembly, get the crucial skills your company needs to make a digital transformation. We upskill, reskill, and benchmark teams by training them in today’s most in-demand skills in web development, design, data, marketing, and business. We also provide on-boarding and hiring strategies to solve hiring gaps within your organization.