Skilling for the digital future with Anant Maheshwari

Mr Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt Ltd deliberating on 'Skilling For The Digital Future’ at AIMA LeaderSpeak session

Mr Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt Ltd deliberating on ‘Skilling For The Digital Future’ at AIMA LeaderSpeak session

Every industry, every company, all of us have become more digital. Just to take a personal example imagine and remember what you were doing five to ten years back and your life today as an individual and as a professional and the number of skills that you have intuitively picked up over time in driving your own work today.

The big question around tech adoption is basically what platforms you use and how much do you use of those platforms? So if you ask how we think about tech platforms today, there are a lot of platforms available to simple ones that you use daily like social chat applications, maps, search that you use on the internet or it could be some applications that you use for your productivity or even to track weather data or any other news.

These are all platforms but at work in organizations also there are many platforms that organizations should adopt and therefore how much do you adopt what platforms you bring in. That’s the first question around tech intensity that each of us needs to ask as organizations and as individuals. The second question and then go into the second concept around tech capability. Now, this part of the equation is very critical as we say that every company is a digital company. Every organization actually has its own secret sauce of how they bring all these platforms that they may have all the ingredients they may have to create what’s unique about that organization.  Think of it as if you’re in the kitchen you can give the same set of ingredients to different people who may be cooking but it’s a secret sauce and the process that a lot of people have makes so much difference in terms of what actually comes out as the outcome. So similarly in organizations, you can provide the same platforms and same tools to two different companies or individuals doing exactly the same thing, it’s about the tech capabilities that they build uniquely of their own that distinguishes one from the other. Tech capability can have a multiplier effect on the tech adoption in the organization and go back to that point around the usage of data to really drive the organization and your own capability forward.

Let’s come to the third part of the equation. As I said earlier the equation is tech adoption multiplied by tech capability raised to the power of trust. Now one thing that has happened during the pandemic is that this element of trust has really got amplified. Trust is very critical not just in terms of adoption and building technology but also in how you use it. There are two aspects to the trust:

First trust in the business models and then when digital technology is transforming every industry and every part of our daily life trust starts shaving a lot of different dimensions. We all are aware of cybersecurity, the reliability of what you see on digital platforms and the data that you use. How do you comply with laws, everybody today is aware that privacy is a fundamental human right.

So the big question for trust is are you building a business today to stand the test of time on trust and to bring that analogy of what human history has seen already and what we are witnessing as we go through today is the best analogy. Now look at the digital world this will happen much faster in a very compressed time frame. All of us are doing a lot of these business models today the laws are still getting written around how you will manage your digital estate, how you will manage your digital capabilities going forward and in a way trust becomes central because the business models that you create today will get judged by the laws that are still getting written and within the next few years you will then ask the question am I compliant with the laws? So trust becomes very important in thinking through all the elements of digital skilling and digital capability.

Tech intensity is the foundation on which you assess digital skills. Therefore, what you need to do is a combination of tech adoption and tech capability raised to the power of trust. It’s not just about creating new skills but it’s also the up-gradation of skills continuously so it’s a continuous cycle of skilling and let me take it one by one. So first is how do you get started how to create digital skills in the first place if of course, you are training the schools and the people who have not used these skills before so even in our colleges in our training we bring this in and it has to be a 360-degree approach of skilling the ecosystem and it’s starting with schools and educators it’s starting with jobs that don’t have digital skills today but are beginning to have them to prepare a workforce in India for jobs of the future. It requires truly enabling every segment of the country to succeed in a digital economy and therefore it requires work between the governments, the industry, and the civil society to bring digital resilience in such a time of change to truly acquire skills. The next one is about the second bit which is upgrading and continuously working on improving our skills so it’s about creating a system of learning that helps empower everyone sort of pursuing lifelong learning and no single company or enterprise can close this skills gap alone. It’s truly a partnership that is required across the ecosystem across all stakeholders. So over a decade, we have been working very closely with the public, private and non-profit sectors in India to create a very vibrant skilling ecosystem in the country that prepares everyone for a tech-enabled future.

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