James Parsons, founder and CEO of Arrows Group Global, shares his advice on what UK tech companies should do to attract talent in a post-Brexit scenario.

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Achieving successful digital innovation at the speed that companies need it may require more flexibility over employment models.

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James Parsons, CEO of Arrows Group Global on what retailers need to do to attract tech talent.

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James Parsons, CEO of Arrows Group Global talks to Anna Isaac about how he founded his digital skills business using a credit card – and why it pays to delegate as you grow.

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Expanding service lines to support global mobility and digital economy

NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 9, 2016 – One year since opening its Indian centre of excellence, Arrows Group Global, provider of global talent solutions for the digital economy, has moved to new premises in Gurgaon as the company continues its client-led expansion strategy and remarkable growth trajectory.  The move heralds a highly successful period of delivering total workforce solutions to its global customers, particularly those clients ready to embrace the benefits of multicultural and multi-geographical talent.  This suits the company’s expanding client base of high-growth, high-tech companies and major corporates who all need to build their digital capability.

Mike Jones, Managing Director, comments, “The reality of today’s digital economy is that talent is dispersed across the world, and professional services firms like Arrows Group can help bring that global talent to our clients’ doorsteps.  I’m proud of the team that we’ve built from scratch in India and the high-performance culture they’ve instilled that is integral to our DNA and success.  Our growth is a direct reflection of how our clients have responded positively to our unique approach.  Moving to larger offices signals to our staff and clients that Arrows Group Global is ready for the next chapter in business process outsourcing.”

Naveen Narayanan, Global Consulting Director, adds, “Navigating the complexities and challenges involved in global skills mobility is a significant hurdle for many clients and firms.  We’ve spent the past year reinforcing our capability and infrastructure that is now delivering commercial advantages for our clients, many operating in highly competitive sectors and international markets.  Arrows Group can target talent scarcity and attraction by opening up the global skills marketplace, and help reinvent how our clients think about their work, workers, and workspace.  As a global practitioner of people best practice, it has been immensely rewarding to reflect on a transformative year for our staff in India, and I am excited for what the future holds in the new offices.”

The Demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

This year’s World Economic Forum in Davos included the Fourth Industrial Revolution as one of its primary themes in 2016. The Fourth Industrial Revolution centres on the blurring of lines between the physical and digital spheres. We are looking at a phenomenon that has the scope to disrupt production and organisational systems across the globe.

What is different about this revolution is the speed at which the change is taking place. Digital automation is taking over repetitive and mundane tasks at an exponential rate, often performing better than humans with lower margins of error. This gives us the opportunity to take up more productive and creative roles, rather than jobs that can be automated.

demands

Companies need to ensure that they are ready to embrace these disruptive changes emerging across industries. A key step in this direction is to build an adaptable workforce, one that evolves with the changing technological scenario. This future workforce should have a whole new skill set that goes beyond proficiency in a particular task. In fact, the Accenture Technology Vision 2016 report that surveyed IT and business executives found that “deep expertise for the specialized task at hand” was only the fifth most important characteristic required for people to do well in a digital work environment. They ranked ‘ability to quickly learn’ and ’ability to multitask’ or ‘willingness to embrace change’ higher.

Here is how to start with building an adaptable workforce:

Workforce of the Future (2)

Continuous Training

Firms should develop training programmes that are not just an ad-hoc requirement, but a continuous aspect of the organisation. This will allow them to create the kind of skilled workforce they require, rather than wait for it to emerge. This also helps in keeping the workforce updated with upcoming innovations. They are also an investment towards enabling your old workforce acquire the skills required to transition into the digital age. And when your teams are armed with the right skills, it is possible for them to identify the opportunities created by changing technology and act on them much faster than the competition. For example, GE’s FastWorks methodology, that embeds lean startup practices into the workforce, “enabled it to build a new regulation-compliant diesel engine for ships nearly two years ahead of its competitors”*.

 

Organisational Agility

The second element that firms need to incorporate is “agility”. This means the project teams and companies themselves, should be able to change directions and adapt to every major innovation in their industry. Companies have to give up the age old rigid division of work, and create free flowing structures that enable the people to move between tasks and projects, contributing their skills wherever required. An agile workforce is one that is built for change, and will bring in immense rewards in the digital age.

The Future of Jobs, Executive Summary document states that “Firms can no longer be passive consumers of ready-made human capital. They require a new mindset to meet their talent needs and to optimize social outcomes.” This is exactly why they need to reconsider hiring policies and prioritise the search for talent that is in sync with an evolving technological landscape. This new workforce of the future has been aptly described as the “Liquid Workforce” in Accenture’s Technology Vision 2016. This workforce needs to be, above all, a free flowing entity that will mould itself according to the needs of the time. And in a digital age, it is set to become a huge competitive advantage.

According to the 2015 Talent Shortage Survey by the Manpower Group, 38 percent of global businesses are struggling to find the right talent. We have our work cut out for us. At Arrows Group Global, we work towards finding talent that has the essential qualities to become a part of your ‘workforce of the future’.  Working together, we can ensure that the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a world characterised by new opportunities that demand scientific and creative expertise, rather than replaceable cogs in a wheel.

 

*Accenture Liquid Workforce Technology Vision 2016

Arrows Group conducts successful first chat on Twitter

Arrows Group successfully organized its first Twitter Chat today ’Getting Your Talent Strategy Right for the Digital Economy’ with James Parsons, Co-Founder and CEO, Arrows Group, as the host. Despite this being the first such chat for Arrows Group, the event saw a phenomenal result with reach over 68,000 Twitter accounts, and 319,000 impressions being generated within the chat hour. The chat saw enthusiastic questions about smart robots taking over present-day jobs, adapting our hiring campaigns to the mobile revolution, and the increasing demand for employee retention.

A regular speaker at staffing and business events, James was keen on using the Twitter platform to reach out to a wider set of audience, to share his experience in building compelling employee value propositions for digital enterprises. James is encouraged by the great engagement he saw during the chat today.

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence, traditional companies need to transform themselves into digital enterprises. And for this to happen, enterprises cannot just reinvent their business from the ground up, but also find the right talent to make it happen, talent that is not just digitally savvy, but digitally ‘smart.’ The Twitter chat focused on answering the key questions when designing the digital DNA of the present-day enterprise.

Tweetchat Feb 25 - Banner graphic
Answering key questions when designing the digital DNA of your enterprise

When: February 25, 2016; 1pm – 1.45pm (GMT)

First, it was the internet.  Then, the big four forces of ‘SMAC’ (Social/Media/Analytics/Mobile).  And now, it’s the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence. These sweeping changes have forced every organisation to transform itself into a digital enterprise or face irrelevance.  To compete in the digital economy, companies today not only have to reinvent their business from the ground up, but also find the right talent to make it happen.

Digitally smart talent understands lean and agile, focuses on the right mix of business and technical skills, and always puts itself in the customer’s shoes.  Join our Twitter Chat to learn how you can design the talent strategy most suited to your digital enterprise, and to ensure that your hiring proposition is as appealing as possible to the digital market.

Why Should You Join This Twitter Chat?

  • You’re the CEO and you want ‘talent’ to be at the heart of your digitalenterprise
  • Like every CxO, you want to ensure your hiring proposition is the most attractive in the market
  • As the head of HR, you need an employee value proposition that sets a standard and framework for all HR activity

 

Your Host: James Parsons

James Parsons is Co-founder and CEO of Arrows Group Global, one of the fastest-growing privately-owned consultancies in Europe that has been integrating talent with digital enterprise since 2003.  A regular speaker at staffing and business events, James champions the power of compelling employee value proposition when building winning teams and businesses.

 

Over the last fortnight, I read several news articles that were published in different media websites. If you piece them together, there are patterns to explore and lessons to learn.

The Globe and Mail carried The Canadian Press article, “Banks face recruitment challenges as fintech startups snag talent”. The article noted, “While upstarts allow employees to work flexible hours, wear jeans to the office and play beer pong during lunch breaks, those who work for such companies say the differences in corporate culture go beyond such superficialities.” It spoke about digital talent being in search of “learning opportunities, less red tape, and the chance to work on problems they feel genuinely passionate”.

The Wall Street Journal ran a news story on The New Republic, a century-old magazine being put up for sale by Facebook co-founder, Chris Hughes. The story quotes Mr Hughes in a staff memo published on Medium, that he “underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate.”

The third news article was from digiday.com: “‘There’s been a mindset change’: Legacy publishers are catching up”. It carried details of how traditional publishers like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and many others have made significant gains in traffic while their relatively new digital counterparts like Buzzfeed and Gawker Media saw traffic stay flat or dip.

To me, these articles capture the great change we are currently in the midst of. How traditional businesses are reinventing themselves as digital enterprises; the struggles of finding the right talent to work, and to lead; the challenges of the digital onslaught being overcome by many traditional institutions.

As these stories demonstrate, embracing the right talent and the right technologies are two key levers to enable this change, and if done well, are the routes to continued success.

What interests me the most is how companies the world over are handling the talent part of this route. The most obvious answer is of course poaching. And that is the key reason some of the traditional publishers have caught up with, and are now beating, the digital upstarts in their own game.

However, just getting digital talent and hoping that they would be absorbed into the organisation culture is likely to backfire. And it would work even less if they are dispersed across the organisation thus causing their digital edge to be blunted considerably. The news story on fintech start-ups I spoke about earlier mentions how Scotia Bank set up a ‘digital factory’ of 350 tech people including UX designers and data scientists, in one place. That is reminiscent of Wal-Mart’s @WalmartLabs, an “idea incubator”. It was set up as part of its e-commerce division in Silicon Valley in 2011, away from the company headquarters in Arkansas. This group helped the company outpace Amazon’s growth in 2013.

Will such an approach work for all enterprises aspiring to go digital? Maybe not, but it is a definite start. Especially given that a lot of people are opting for far more meaningful jobs where they can make a difference, instead of being mired in monolithic organisations that have worked the same way for decades.

The second route is to acquire digital companies that make strategic business sense to traditional companies. According to McKinsey, Tesco, the UK grocery retailer, went the ‘aqcui-hire’ way. It made three digital acquisitions over two years, which helped in quickly building up the skills needed to move into digital media. Verizon did the same in the US, says McKinsey, with its strategic acquisitions in telematics and cloud services.

In both routes, the key transformation challenge is integration into the existing culture, because for the customer, the enterprise brand has to provide a seamless experience, no matter which channel she chooses to engage with the brand. Should the companies operate as separate entities? When should they begin to integrate? And how?

In 2016 and beyond, these are some of the questions we are tackling at Arrows Group Global.