Digital transformation at the edges of business: New careers, organizations, and means of communication

Digital transformation impacts every corner of a business — from implementing agile practices to the end products and experiences. But what about the lesser known aspects of digital transformation? We asked our colleagues how working in a digital-first company impacts their jobs, and which of these impacts will be increasingly relevant to others in the future.

Digital transformation means new types of jobs and career trajectories, entire businesses developed like digital software and new vehicles for human interaction.

Unconventional skill sets and diversifying fluid careers 

New technologies create new types of jobs, but digital transformation has fundamentally changed how most jobs work inside digital-first companies. Companies ask individuals to cross traditional department lines and develop an array of skills specific to the needs of the company.  

It’s important now more than ever to diversify your skill set. And we’re not just talking about learning a new language if you’re a developer, or a new applicant tracking system as a member of a human resources department. Our product marketing manager Johanna Hyde says it directly: “Marketers need to be smarter and more well-rounded — just doing one thing well is career suicide in the changing world that we live in.” Our SEO expert agrees. Konstantine Beridze remarks, “Many SEO experts are choosing to learn how to code, and Google is encouraging them to do so by promoting Python.” 

This also applies to people working with content and in human resources. Content writers might start cozying up to more and more new technologies in their work. UX writer Rachel Stiles explains that content writers increasingly engage with complex technologies. She says, “Machine learning and translations are having a huge impact on localization and how companies handle internationalization. Anyone working with content is going to be having a lot more interaction with AI and automatization than they might expect.”

This also means that individuals have more opportunities to craft their specific skill sets — no traditional career trajectories means you can largely make your own. Learning and development tools are adapting to these new circumstances, says our people development officer Karlo Guevarra.

Developing a business like a software product

Methods used in product development now define entire companies. The agile practices beloved by developers creeped into and then overwhelmed all other departments — from marketing to human resources. But agile isn’t the only development practices being adopted. 

CTO and Contentful co-founder Paolo Negri says, “I think the biggest change in the discipline of software development is actually what the discipline has been applied to. Digital transformation all started in IT with software trying to facilitate other enterprise functions. Now building an enterprise is more and more like building software. To a great extent, the software we develop determines greater and greater portions of enterprises. This requires some rethinking about how departments are involved in these activities, and how teams are structured and work.” 

Paolo also mentions, “Jeff has a good point on how data analytics changed how projects are evaluated. It’s a good example of how an entire enterprise — instrumented by software — produces data that has some impact on what gets built next.” 

Jeff Glasson, vice president of engineering, shared his example with us. He says, “Data analytics has really helped with software development prioritization. We are using tools to track where engineers’ time is spent and can enable ROI calculations around products and features. This ensures we are spending our time and money as efficiently as possible. These same analytics also helps us understand how our customers use our product, so in addition to tracking RIO on development, it feeds into helping us prioritize new products and features.”

New ways to reach customers and tell stories 

Omnichannel isn’t just a buzzword — it’s the new normal. And the number of those channels keeps growing, each delivering different types of experiences and products for various audiences. Channels aren’t just about delivering content. They’re tools that marketers and storytellers use in new and unexpected ways.  

Mark Demeny, director of content platform strategy, explains the channel proliferation possible because of structured content — and how these channels create the demand for new types of tools. “I think some organizations underestimate the amount of new channels and possibilities for customer experiences enabled by the acceptance and understanding of structured content. 

“The channel explosion from web to mobile was a big shift, but it hardly compares to voice, IoT devices and even augmented results from services like Google (using schema.org and other microdata formats). This will increase a greater semantic understanding of content across a number of spaces and enable more interactivity across channels. 

The trend for these omnichannel experiences is only increasing, and the tooling (such as Contentful and Robotic Process Automation) and APIs to enable these will get better and better. For those organizations with a very high cost of customer acquisition or service (banks, telcos, health care, etc.), these foundational technologies should start to usher in a new era of customer experiences that is driven by automated content and customer need understanding.” 

Rob Pannoni, director of learning services, looks at the learning experiences provided through these new channels. He says that instructors aren’t going away, even as learning becomes more and more digital. He says, “Despite the move to digital content, there is significant demand in the training world for instructor-led experiences. Live instruction may produce better learning outcomes with certain combinations of subject matter and audience. Many learners also prefer instructor-led training because of its familiarity, the ability to ask questions, and the ability to block out time on their calendar for learning. Meanwhile, training organizations frequently rely on instructor-led training as their primary means of producing revenue.

“Even before Covid, virtual instructor-led training was becoming increasingly popular compared to in-person training. In the post-Covid world, it will have become familiar enough to have a lasting impact on the amount of onsite training that companies are willing to purchase. It remains, however, a relatively poor instructional method that is exhausting and joyless for both presenters and students. You think an hour long zoom call is bad, imagine a three day technical workshop.

“The need for a better distance learning solution may rekindle interest in blended learning approaches such as our Contentful Accelerators, which combine digital content with instructor-led sessions built around richer interaction than today's video conferencing tools provide. Collaborative tools such as Miro allow for online training techniques that go beyond presentation. And tools that provide for asynchronous collaboration around digital content may advance and gain traction.”

You can better prepare for digital transformation

Digital transformation changes more than people expect — not just in their daily work but the products they use and the types of experiences they build. Start with The thin slice approach to digital transformation webinar to learn more about what goes into executing a digital transformation strategy from teams that have gone through it.

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