The top 3 skills business leaders need to prioritize in 2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic exposed weaknesses in many business strategies, particularly around their ability to respond to a changing business landscape with resilience. In hindsight, it’s clear that the biggest challenge for organizations was a massive digital shift as remote work became essential to conduct business safely. Business leaders never saw it coming, or at least, they thought they had more time.

Now, nearly a year into the pandemic, there’s a steady stream of companies undergoing digital transformation in an effort to adapt. In many cases, these initiatives were once part of multi-year programs that had to be accelerated. A recent global research study that interviewed 1,000 IT professionals around the world reinforces this. In fact, 74 per cent of technologists report that digital transformation projects, which would typically take more than a year to be approved, have been signed off in a matter of weeks. Some may consider this a silver lining as a result of the pandemic as businesses who expedited projects see a benefit to the bottom line and become more innovative.

It seems business leaders have learned – some the hard way – that what worked yesterday, may not work today. As we close off a challenging year and look to a fresh start in 2021, forward-thinking leaders should consider that what works today may not work in the future. Many organizations are tasked to do more with less and in order to thrive in what comes next, they need to prioritize skills that build resilience and agility across their teams.

 Here are the top three skills business leaders need to prioritize in 2021.

  1. Collaboration

Throughout the pandemic, technologists and IT professionals found themselves spearheading their company’s crisis response. It’s not an exaggeration to say the immediate survival of many businesses rested on their shoulders for the first time. Unfortunately, this was made difficult by the delay of digital strategies they likely recommended previously.

The skilled professionals who will lead digitization in 2021 won’t be agile in their response to changing demands if they don’t have the trust and support of their decision makers. Leadership must recognize the value and importance of experts across the company in order to agree on shared goals and how to achieve them. This means collaboration is essential not only for interdepartmental teams to come up with innovative ideas – but to ensure they can be implemented fast.

  1. Analytical thinking

In 2021, it’s likely most leaders and their organizations will encourage technologists to take risks to enable rapid innovation for their business. This push for further digital transformation makes sense after the shift 2020 brought. There is value in investing in the latest enterprise technology and business leaders will be looking to strengthen their commitment to digital strategies. This is good news for IT professionals, as the importance of their work is recognized.

Serious analytical thinking will be key to unlocking technologist’s potential in the coming year and the good news is that they already assess business problems and opportunities with a logical mindset. It is important to empower them to make the most of this skill by ensuring they have digital tools that provide business insights they can use in real time. Enterprise-grade solutions like a full stack observability platform can increase visibility of IT environments and seamlessly gather data from multiple sources. This allows technologists to obtain meaningful insights from applications on public and hybrid clouds, making it a great investment to empower deeper analytical thinking for IT teams.

  1. Outcome-driven decision making

After a tumultuous year disrupted the best laid plans of most organizations, decisions made by leadership to secure business continuity were made quickly – sometimes hastily. The urgency of reacting to the global crisis made it difficult to develop and follow long-term business strategies. Now that operating in an increasingly digital world has been normalized, decision makers will shift from putting out daily fires and begin to focus on large, organizational goals in 2021.

Once business leaders and their teams have developed collaboration and analytical thinking, taking an outcome-driven approach to decision making will be important. This will allow for clear communication and a shared vision across the organization. When leadership, IT and other departments are aligned on key business goals, everyone can focus on the work that matters most, allowing the business to achieve its goals in less time.

Getting ahead of future challenges

In the interest of building resilience and agility, these top three skills will be important for business leaders and their organizations, regardless of their sector. Leaders in financial services are a good example. In the last year, the industry has seen digital transformation unfold at a quicker pace than others. Finastra, one of the largest fintech companies in the world, is always looking ahead. Prashant Jain of Finastra shared the skills his organization will prioritize in the coming year, 

“As we continue our digital transformation efforts in the coming year, we plan to leverage a software-as-a-service (SaaS) based product strategy. We will be prioritizing skills like collaboration and analytical thinking among our teams to be successful in our effort to deploy microservices and serverless architectures, integrated security in our DevOps ecosystem and a platform for end-to-end observability.” 

 

 

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Gregg Ostrowski

Gregg Ostrowski is a Regional CTO at AppDynamics. He engages with customer senior leadership to help prioritize their strategy for digital transformation.