About digitalization and learning processes at the ABSL Annual Conference
Our constant preoccupations have included the transformation of the adults’ learning habits and the digitalization of employee language assessment and specialized training. That is exactly why we were very open to the topic approached by the ABSL partners (Business Service Leaders Association of Romania) within the Annual Conference, namely ‘Romania at the Forefront of Innovation’.
The event held on October 9th, organized by ABSL and centered around the speakers’ and partners’ valuable insights, created the perfect environment for discussions, presentations or demonstrations regarding the way digitalization is changing the business models. The theme is even more relevant as there (still) is the perception that Romania would be a hub for global outsourcing and that many of the processes taking place here could be automatized.
The conference reunited, at JW Marriott Grand Hotel, approximately 500 participants and covered, among others, subjects such as: ‘Learning Habits – the digital transformation’, ‘Outsourcing industry and intelligent automation’, ‘The Future of you – skills development for tomorrow’s world’, ‘The truth about the robots’, ‘Romania’s value proposition for tomorrow’, ‘The board perspective on cyber-security’, ‘Innovative solutions for the business services industry’.
‘The Business Services Industry continued to grow and got to its mature stage. Currently we are talking about 120.000 employees’, said Bogdan Pelinescu, Board President of ABSL, in the opening speech of the conference. Therefore, it is important to take a look at the way the integration of digital technologies in our day to day life affects human resources.
What abilities or skills should a company’s employees have, in the context of the major changes that are taking place? “We are talking about gratitude and understanding the need for change, proactivity, openness and energy, required to properly cope with the inherent challenges of any transformation process and, obviously, about the desire to acquire new skills”, said Ovidiu Oltean, facilitator of the conference.
‘Business trends are like fashion, one minute they’re in, one minute they’re out’, this is how Colin Lovering, Chairman of BRCC (British Romanian Chamber of Commerce) began his presentation. He also launched the challenge to think about the way communication has improved in the era of digitalization, to what extent communication has facilitated the digital trend and the extent to which it has blocked real interpersonal connection.
Romania continues to be the proper field for foreign investments, among other countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland, India, as the development of certain cities such as Cluj or Timisoara proves.
What particular skill do we need in this time of change? Colin mentioned courage: ‘Just simply be courageous. Otherwise sales innovation, leadership and contribution to society will suffer from lack of significant involvement!’
He also added: ‘As organizations, you have the duty to develop the masses of young people that come along. They are the leaders of tomorrow and they need people like you to grow up. Respect your organization, you are the employer, the coach, the parent of these young people. In the end and coming back to these times of change, keep driving what works well, improve what doesn’t, remove the rest!’
The conference moved on with the presentation of Richard Perrin, Advisory Partner at KMPG, ‘Outsourcing Industry Report’, who insisted on information such as: English is the most used foreign language, followed by French and German, the top skills looked for in a company are foreign languages and IT knowledge and 68% of the people recruited in the Business Shared Services were selected for their knowledge of rare foreign languages.
‘The value of building on a transparent foundation’, a discussion between Raluca Stanislav, Skanska România and Francisc Peli, PeliFilip, outlined an important idea in the context of digitalization – we should not lose sight of the importance of maintaining trust in the company and that can be achieved by: a relentless demonstration of skills and competences the company has, the clients expect to receive the services at the quality they were promised during the sale process; ‘benevolence’, a term that should describe a constant behavior of a brand from now on, which requires a company to show care to an employee and to the client, to be careful to the needs of the former and to offer maybe an extra service to the latter. In the end, integrity also plays a part in the consolidation of trust and, therefore, of transparency, which is so vital in the industry development process.
‘Technology is in everything. And learning cannot elude the digital transformation, this way it can actually become flexible. As an organization, you need to be ready to re-educate and retrain your employees, in a fast-responsive business you need to quickly respond to your employees’ learning needs’, this is how David Hand, ACCA started his speech. He also mentioned that it takes vision to foresee the clients’ needs, giving as an example the Apple company, which offered people products they didn’t know they needed. The abilities of interpersonal communication will continue to be necessary, however, regardless of the trends we might see in the future overtaking the debates: artificial intelligence, adaptive learning, simulations and immersion.
Mircea Giurcan, Senior Manager of EY România, introduced the subject of automatization: ‘First of all, you must assess what processes in your company need to be automated then if your company is fit for automation.’ He also underlined the fact that we cannot lose sight of the importance of the human resource, even in this context – generally, people get to monitor the automatization process and then to manage the platforms by means of which repetitive tasks have been eliminated.
Basav Chaudhuri, Leadership Development Coach at I.Future mentioned the need to pay attention to the employees’ condition within your company – a real and fair transformation of the company only takes place when people themselves understand why, how and with whom they are undertaking this process of change and, therefore, the role of the leaders and influencers is crucial: ‘It is not a coincidence that the first 3 answers to the question 《 How can we transform successfully 》 relate to people and how they feel. Align. Engage. Empower. Manage. Monitor. Improve. Without these six critical elements, we can’t have a successful change.’
Răzvan Țapu, Stefanini, clarified, during his presentation titled ‘Augmenting innovation with innovation’ the fact that technology and innovation should bring value to the company and Alex Bălan, Bitdefender, insisted on the importance of cybernetic security in the context of a massive digitalization.
‘What is Romania’s Value Proposition for Tomorrow?’ was a debate that ended with the idea that the Romanian employee is appreciated for their talent or competence, their flexibility, knowledge of a foreign language and the ease in the use of new technologies.
Mircea Bozga, Partner Assurance Services at PwC România presented ‘The Board perspective on cyber-security’- it is the duty of the Board’s members to pay a lot of credit to the investment in cybernetic security, given the vulnerability of information systems. The importance of a close collaboration with the CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) is therefore crucial.
Maarten Oonk, Director of Deloitte România, mentioned during his presentation, ‘Accelerate Innovation’, the importance of getting rid of old habits or abilities to make room for the new ones. He also commented on the need to move from an efficiency oriented approach to a learning oriented approach as a strategy for the company, from the orientation towards the recruited candidates’ abilities to the candidates’ passion(s).
Silviu Dragomir, Manager of Eucom, introduced to the audience the concept of Smart Learning as a response to the challenges of the current business environment: the employee has multiple tasks and objectives, and the pressure of time has a great impact on them; the attention span is lower and the preferred content is mainly video, as it is easily accessible. Therefore, Smart Learning is the solution that suggests an acceleration of the learning process, while generating real-time engagement for the trainee and the excitement of leaving the experience of learning.
Therefore, in the context in which terms such as ‘digital’, ‘technology’, ‘robot’, ‘automatization’ are more and more subjects of debate in the public space, we can conclude that the human factor remains of the essence: either for monitoring the automatization processes, for solving technical exceptions or for human interaction, which cannot be yet replaced by technology. Of course, the change processes we are experiencing require, from each and every one of us, flexibility and good will, integrity and ethics, vision.
Companies are bound to ardently focus on learning but, we might add, they are especially bound to focus on smart learning: customized on the employees’ needs, with the current means that integrate technology, with a focus on the employee’s status quo and taking into account the working or personal environment of the individual – multiple tasks, the need for balance between the two spheres, the personal and the professional one, pressure and low attention. Smart Learning is the solution for the transformations required by the digitalization era, both to companies and to employees, a concept that we are continuously applying in our programs of traditional, personalized and innovative training. In the end, we invite Romanian companies to reconsider their learning processes from the point of view of smart learning.