The digital transformation impacts people in your team while at the same time the people impact the transformation.

by Giandomenico Rivetti, Lars Dittmann

Company culture can be defined as a set of shared values, goals, attitudes, and practices that characterize an organization.

The business sector you are operating in and the way you go about to reach your goals shapes the culture of your company. And vice versa the company culture enables and limits your possibilities to
transform your business – especially when moving to a modern business model that is defined starting from the customer needs.

This article elaborates on the impact of digital transformation on your people.

Hard skills

It is said that “hard skills guide you to the right door, while soft skills make you open the door.”

In an engineered product type business, it is clear that hard skills, such as doing mathematical calculations using computer aided design programs writing sophisticated specifications, are a core
competence. One cannot survive without it. Normally, you can acquire hard skills in the classroom, in an online course, through books, or on the job, which is good news.

However, it is not enough for being successful in a more modern business environment. Because the customer needs are changing constantly, especially in more mature markets. On the various touchpoints with the customers, people are needed who can connect to their counterparts and are eager to understand why the customers are acting in a certain way. What are their needs ?

Soft skills

The ability to instantly connect with others and being able to collaborate and communicate regardless of the field of expertise, local culture, habits and status, is a prerequisite for complex problem solving.

These skills are not unique to a specific job, and they are called soft skills, like good communication, active listening, empathy, and getting along with other people. Of course, some individuals are born with a high level of emotional intelligence. Just like each primary school class has its mathematical frontrunners. But soft skills are not a given attribute of your personality – one has it and the other one does not have it.

Soft skills can be developed through the daily interactions, feedbacks, practices, and coaching. It is impressive to see how good hard-skilled experts can develop soft skills when given the motivation, feedback, and support. This leads us to a different understanding of the human resource function.

Human Realization

The need to develop people in terms of soft skills has an impact on the human resource function. Some companies have even renamed the human resource function into human realization function. They facilitate the realization of the employees. But what does realization really mean? Through the development of soft skills, the person can become the character in life that she or he wants to be. The employee realizes her or his potential. The prospect to learn and realize a potential is a good reason to work for a company.


For any kind of change or transformation, the company culture is key. It manifests in the skills of the team members distinguishing between hard and soft skills.

Hard skills are mandatory, at least in an engineered product type of business or any other business arranged around complex technologies.

However, a digital transformation can only be achieved with the right set of soft skills at hand, because modern business models start from the customer needs. Understanding those needs throughout the customer touchpoints requires empathy, good communication and getting along with others.

Developing these soft skills is a core task of the human resource function.

The Voice Of the Expert – Laurent Gervais : What are the most required soft skills ?