People, Machines and Algorithms

It is fundamental to reset People core competencies and their implementation in the age of Digital Transformation and Smart Manufacturing, in a digital globalized labour market.

The global digital transformation and the development of Intelligent Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 have already given birth to a variety of new technologies, with a strong impact on daily production activities and on the whole manufacturing value chain (i.e. robotics, augmented reality, additive manufacturing, digital twin etc.) and organizational processes.

The new allocation of responsibilities between people and machines, processes and procedures, now including even algorithms, is already happening.

It is therefore vital to reset core competencies to face new organizational challenges and to maintain high levels of competitiveness in a digital globalized labour market.

Technologies or people?

First of all, it is important to make a distinction between the technical know-how required to manage specific technologies and the social ability to interact with different stakeholders involved in a digital transformation process.

Apart from the frequent confusion between hard skills and organizational behaviours, many people assert that “digital is not about tech, but leading complexity”, without making clear how capabilities and roles will evolve.

Companies often talk about reskilling and upskilling, but they do not contextualise the concrete competencies they are taking into account.

Skills like problem solving, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and creativity are empty words if they are not integrated in a specific organizational context. Indeed, one of the most common mistakes is to act separately on technologies and people. 

A digital mindset assessment is even more important than merely check the technical ability to use a digital tool.


Can digital soft skills be really considered as new capabilities?

Over the last years, some experts have talked about digital soft skills as new capabilities. 

However, this conception has soon evolved in the idea that, thanks to the digital transformation, organizational behaviours have not changed in their inner nature but in the way they are implemented. 

For this reason, today we talk about “skills in action”. Besides, the use of specific digital tools can reinforce or rather weaken these capabilities.

Indeed, the development of digital soft skills is exactly determined by the set of digital attitudes, digital ethics (i.e. how companies and people defines their values) and personality traits.

In conclusion, the key to implement and manage such a similar revolution in organizational processes and manufacturing contexts is to count on people with a strong digital mindset

Not only should these people be able to quickly adapt to continuous change, but also to spread their knowledge and attitude within their organization.


Millennials and now Generation-Z can enable these capabilities to improve processes, encourage the spread of new organizational behaviours and digital transformation.

Digital natives are able to change the way organizational settings and manufacturing environments have always been used to working. 

Indeed, not only is it important to define how to implement some technologies, but also who can implement them. 

Therefore, it is vital to identify and give value to skills enablers, whose impact on organizational behaviour is remarkable.

It is interesting to note that these changes even more frequently start from the bottom of the pyramid, as Millennials are in touch will all organizational levels and can influence Senior Manager (with generally a traditional mindset) to embrace the digital transformation.

The so-called “reverse mentoring” of digital natives should be integrated by modern companies in their way of working, in order to accelerate the spread of new digital skills and organizational behaviours.

The digitalization of large corporation is quickly giving an advantage to this new generation that is ready to represent >75% of the total workforce, with an increasing percentage of Millennials already also in leading positions. 

In conclusion, if traditional manufacturing companies want to accelerate their transformation process, they need to encourage Millennials and new generations to join their organizations and to give them a key role in supporting these changes.


Article written by Fabio Ciarapica, CFR Global Executive Search Italy

Photo source: Freepik

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