Digital Skills in Your Organisation, How Do You Build Them?

14th March, 2019

March 12th and 13th saw the Cloud expo Europe being held at Excel in London. I was lucky enough to be invited on to a panel session in the afternoon of the 13th by the Cloud Industry Forum.

Building Digital Skills in Your Organisation with chair Simon Ratcliffe of Ensono, Huw Davies from the BBC, Andy Wilson from Dropbox and Hutton Henry from Beyond.

Building digital skills panel at Cloud Expo Europe

Huw outlined the apprenticeship and degree path within the BBC. He is delivering the next generation of young people ready to work within the BBC through an adaptable development model. This is evolving based on its results and business needs.

Andy shared a compelling narrative around the culture, skills development and focus on learning and collaboration that exists at Dropbox. As a tech and digital company born in the cloud, this was a contrast to the established BBC. He also drew on his experience of encouraging the workforce of the future with his work for TeenTech.

I told the audience a little about how we can see the employment model changing. Within the Cloud, DevOps and tech space there is a shift from permanent to contract recruitment.


We have spent a great deal of time tracking employment trends due to our obsession with finding the right people. Creating rich, diverse, high performing teams has to be a leadership priority. Sourcing and retaining the right people is business critical. Companies need to consider new ways to attract and keep people.

We feel the workplace infrastructure could potentially consist of permanent hires, contractors, project teams, consultants, outsourced companies and other options. Flexible resourcing models like CloudBase work as a virtual bench of the skills you may need as a one off or for a large project.

Within this training and development has to be a continual loop. This is to mitigate the constant changes that technology brings. 

Personally I feel the tech industry is doing well to push back on the notion we need to be in an office every day. It does offer employees more flexibility than many other sectors .

A story from the past!

A decade ago I worked in a company that grew from 45 people to 250.

We had 60 parking spaces at the office and elaborate car share schemes existed to try and ensure we could all get on site. After 4 years I moved areas and was the first (and still the only person) to ever work from home for them. The stresses that existed with hiring enough talent in the area, for people with childcare considerations, the big parking nightmare, appointments and other factors could have been easily alleviated with a more flexible employee environment. 

But even as little as a decade ago, we weren’t so mindful of employee experience. And we certainly didn’t need to worry so much about talent retention.

Emerging Risk:

The most recent Gartner emerging risk survey report puts the global talent shortage in 1st place as the biggest risk to organisations. 

In quarter 3 of 2018 talent shortages ranked in 3rd place.  

Researching our white paper looking at Leadership in the Cloud, an overarching theme from the industry is the importance of people in a world of technology.

Tech is an enabler.

Cloud offers organisations the ability to operate, scale and work in ways that never would’ve been possible in the past.

Automation, RPA, AI, and ML create uniformity, streamlined process and the end of mundane repetition but 

Everything comes back round to people

Finding, nurturing and retaining the right people. 

When it comes to plugging the digital skills gaps in your organisation, it is time to think outside the box. 

The when, where and how those people work with you is secondary. Your primary focus has to be on value and outcome for your customer.  

Hutton Henry from Beyond then finished with a view on how his organisation is working with tech companies to assess what skills people already have. A large part of this is around critical skills and thinking. This allows for matching people to roles they may not even know they would be perfect for. The key is knowing clearly what type of traits you actually need to be effective within a role. Ultimately it is a science.

Hutton Henry from Beyond

The audience asked a selection of questions around upskilling workers who had been in roles for lengthy periods, education, and development.

Takeaway and what next?

The overriding message from us all was about collaboration and creativity.

People need to be supported and helped to be the best versions of themselves and keep skills up to date.

Organisations need to assess and measure regularly what good looks like.  Otherwise you will struggle to truly know what skills you may be lacking. Flexible resourcing models, mentoring, pairing new employees with older ones to effectively skill share all have a place in the new workplace infrastructure.

I’d like to thank Simon and Breda for inviting me on to the panel and to my fellow panellists Huw, Andy and Hutton who were fascinating to listen to and spend time with.

The Cloud Industry Forum are undertaking a survey on Digital Skills so please get involved here

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