Can your business stay ahead of digital transformations?- Hays careers advice

As a business leader, you will know that staying on top of the digital transformations in your industry is a fundamental part of how well you retain your customers and maintain your prominence within the market.

As our CEO Alistair Cox outlines in one of his public speeches, digital transformation  “gives you an opportunity to evolve your own business and adapt to new and modern ways of working, in effect, it can be a way of leapfrogging competitors who are maybe slower to anticipate and adapt.”

On the other hand, if you fail to anticipate changes in consumer behaviour and therefore technology, you risk losing your standing within the industry and your appeal to your customers.  With this in mind, how can you tell if your business is able to stay ahead of latest digital transformations? I would recommend asking yourself the below three questions.

Do you constantly engage with your customers?

As I mentioned before, digital transformations are closely linked to changes in customer behaviour. How connected are you to what your customers want – both now, and in the future?

Take Nike for example, a reputable sports brand with a range of globally popular running trainers. They identified that their customer base often went running with their smartphones in hand, and multiple apps open for playing music, tracking their distance and monitoring their time. Nike decided to go one step further and develop the Nike+ Run Club app. This app integrates with Apple Music, Google Maps, connects to your friends on social media and tracks the distance, calories and time of all of your runs. In doing this, Nike responded to what their customers wanted and positioned themselves as a digitally pioneering sportswear brand.

How often do you reach out to your customer base, whether it’s through feedback forms, industry events and forums, or using data and analytics to monitor their engagement on your website or apps? The way your customers behave will constantly evolve alongside changing technology, so make sure you can keep up or even better, stay one step ahead.

How do you react to digital disruptors on the horizon?

When an industry disruptor rears its head, do you panic and bury your head in the sand, or do you embrace it? By choosing to keep on top of the digital disruptors in your market, you are able to welcome the change, and in fact, identify how to use these transformations to enhance your own standing.

Take Hays as an example. In a recent blog, Alistair Cox describes how “five years or so ago, the advent of professional social networks, the likes of LinkedIn, were seen as the ultimate disintermediator of our business. Yet today we are still here – looking forward to celebrating our 50th anniversary as a business in 2018 and growing quickly around the world. I put that down partly to how we have engaged with the disrupters in our industry”

Now let’s look at companies like Kodak, who failed to identify digital disruptors in time, and find ways to work with them. The leading photo-film company, who were once seen as pioneers in their field, were famously ousted by the advent of smartphone technology, eventually going bankrupt in 2012. Ask yourself, do you want to let your business go downhill, all thanks to a Kodak moment?

How innovative is your workforce?

An organisation is only as ready for a change its workforce. You need employees who are able to keep an eye out for industry disruption, stay on top of consumer trends and overall, help your business thrive in the face of digital transformations.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, this is not just an IT issue either, all of your employees should be doing this.

Part of this comes down to hiring for the right traits. You need people who exhibit the soft skills such as being curious and a problem solver. These are the people who can spot disruption ahead of time and suggest solutions. It also helps to have employees who are digitally savvy and who already take a keen interest in your industry.

Encourage an innovative mindset amongst your existing workforce by leading by example. Circulate your ideas and insights, encourage those of others and create a knowledge sharing culture. What about the more senior people in your business? According to this report “62% of staff feel the biggest barrier to digital transformation is not having a leadership mandate”. If this is the case within your organisation, then you need to set an example and encourage leaders to buy into the importance of digital transformation.

In sum, digital transformations are relentless and inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be a burden. By asking yourself the above three questions, you identify the three indicators of being ready for disruption in your industry, moreover, how you can embrace and use these changes to your advantage.

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Dirk began his career at Hays in 1997. First, as a Department Manager, then as Head of Sales and then, Director.

In January 2008, Dirk Hahn was appointed to the Board of Hays AG and is now responsible for sales in the fields of Engineering, Construction & Property, Healthcare, Legal, Life Sciences and Retail in Germany, as well as our international subsidiaries in Switzerland and in Austria.