Studies show that 80% of CEOs have indicated they are worried about the key digital skills of their workforce _ yet few have done anything about it. In an era when sweeping digital transformation is being embraced by every company regardless of industry, why has improving the digital acumen of the workforce been a project left untouched? Suneet Dua, the Chief Product Officer at PricewaterhouseCoopers, says the problem is CEOs don’t know how to go about giving their people the right digital training and skills.
At PwC, a 170-year-old company, digital tools have been used for years to grow the company exponentially, but Suneet discovered that its workforce did not have the digital mastery or resources to leverage technologies for the business. It was a fatal flaw in an otherwise efficient system and was slowing everything down. Armed with a passion to solve this problem, Suneet set out to start what he called a citizen-led skills journey for PwC’s workforce of 280 000 employees. Along the way, he and his team not only developed a digital skills app — which has been made available for free to every citizen in the world — they created digital accelerator jobs and a digital laboratory with more than 750 automations for PwC.
In this episode of Business X factors, Suneet takes us on the journey that led him to this upskilling quest and why its success has been the X factor that has helped power PwC to the heights it’s reached today.
- Filling the Potholes: Most CEOs know that their workforces should be digitally upskilled, but many don’t know how to do it. At PwC, the company has long offered tech solutions to its clients and has transformed its own business with digital tools, but it found that many of the employees could not leverage technology for the business. To fix this blindspot, a massive upskilling undertaking was necessary to keep PwC in a leadership position in the digital world.
- Getting Buy-In On A $3 billion Revolution: In order to bring the ‘citizens’ at PwC up to date in digital skills, the company invested $3 billion. The first task was to establish a digital baseline to determine where things stood at the company and to determine where the biggest digital gaps existed. With the baseline established, the team proceeded to build a learning platform that could fill knowledge gaps but the trick was making employees want to take part. That’s where gamification and incentives were put in place.
- Spread The Knowledge: The success of the upskilling process has led to the creation of bots that would never have existed otherwise in the PwC world, and employees are happier and more fulfilled because of their ability to grow within the company. PwC saw this success as an opportunity to help other organizations do the same thing, and it decided to share its X factor on a much wider scale.
“80% of the CEOs are worried about the key skills of their individuals. However, 20% haven’t done anything about it. So why is it that one out of five CEOs have not done anything about it, is because they don’t know how. They’re worried about this word, digital and I’m here to help dispel with my team that myth.”
“Our citizens (workforce), they work day-to-day in our firm. They work with systems and processes that are old and broken. And they’ve been telling us for years on years, ‘It’s hard to work here. It’s hard to work with our clients.’ So, we said, ‘How do we take care of our staff?’ And then essentially the model came as they started building all these advancements in automations, it became what we call ‘the citizen-led revolution’ in our firm.”
“When we announced the $3 billion new world, new skills journey, we started with the US first and territory by territory slowly going through their journey. It’s for every single person, whether it’s our assistant, our receptionist all the way to the senior tax partner, it was for everyone.”
“We created this gamification of baseline in the firm to start off with gamifying the scores and then offering these amazing digital channels to our people to learn… And one of the things that we started building is called a citizen-led innovation. We let our citizens tell us what else they want. We put the burden of search, not on them, but on us to give them what they want and so they can transform themselves.”
“Our results have been phenomenal, our outcomes quantitative. The great margin and revenue have been phenomenal…if you can change the culture at scale, you have a firm that can’t be stopped.”
“When COVID hit, (our) CEO came to us and said we need to do something, we’re not a medical provider, we’re not first-responders…We can turn our app to a consumer app and offer it for free. And I think that would be our give-back to the world because what’s happening now. Everyone’s home, they’re learning from home.
“I keep on saying this, the automation train it’s not stopping…The human skills train is like the number seven train in New York. It goes slow. And it stops and it goes slow, and it stops and it breaks. The problem is, we need to feed the human skills train with the learning that I’ve been talking about. Once the human skills on the automation train converge, then you actually have an organization that’s really clicking at the next level.”
Suneet Dua has 20+ years’ experience at PwC and has been championing the drive for innovation at this Big Four Accounting firm by delivering world-class digital and forward-thinking products and upskilling the future workforce. He is the Chief Product Officer and on the PwC US Leadership team.
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