The digital age has brought enormous changes to every aspect of our lives in the 21st century, from the way we order the weekly shopping to how we interact with our friends or watch a movie. But it is the business world that has seen the biggest changes, to the extent that some people are heralding the arrival of the fourth industrial revolution.
This means that some of the traditional tools for success in business are no longer as important as they once were, while new specialties have emerged to meet changes in the new technological environment. Here we look at the skills you need to forge a successful career in modern day business.
Leadership and people skills
You might be surprised that one of the most important skills you need to hone has nothing to do with technology at all. Soft skills in communication and getting the most out of your team are essential in adding value to a business.
Organizational behavior and human resource management are an increasing component of MBA programs across the USA and indeed the world, and there are a number of online study courses you can take.
But ultimately, you can only become a master in this area through experience, and critically, through being as good at listening to the opinions of others as you are at putting your own point across.
Our growing dependence on IT systems means the security processes we have in place for our data systems are as important as those we have for physical assets and buildings.
In some respects, they are even more important, as data security affects not only a company’s own data, but that of customers, suppliers and the public. A breach of data security can have repercussions that go beyond mere financial losses, as the high profile incidents that have hit companies like Google and Apple demonstrate.
The days when data security was a matter that could just be left to somebody who understood the dark arts of IT are long behind us, and the fact that UAB’s bachelors in MIS degree places such an emphasis on the subject is evidence that information security is something everybody needs to understand and work actively to control.
Every modern business needs to place a major emphasis on its online presence, as its website is often the first point of contact for potential clients and customers. The MIS degree mentioned above also provides some excellent insights into the world of website development.
While web development itself remains a specialist skill, an effective site can only be built with the input of those within the business, so it is essential that any business manager in the modern world understands the principles of web design in order to create an online presence that is on-brand and gives the maximum return on investment.
The growth of online activities has, perhaps, had a bigger impact on marketing than on any other business discipline. The world of digital marketing is one that is evolving at a rapid rate, and to a certain extent, it turns the traditional marketing dynamic on its head.
Out is the old-fashioned concept of businesses looking for customers and following up on cold leads. The modern digital marketing dynamic means that instead, customers will actively look for you. The trick, of course, is to ensure that they find you, by implementing a digital marketing strategy that makes you the first choice in your business segment.
Getting to grips with modern digital marketing means developing an understanding of concepts such as search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click strategies (PPC) and the power of social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
This is the age of big data. Every mouse click, web search, social media ‘like’, online booking and app download creates its own data stream. A whole new industry is emerging to collate, sort and decipher all this data, and the businesses that can make the best use of it can gain a real competitive advantage over the competition.
This is because big data can provide insights into market trends and customer behavior that would have been unimaginable in years gone by. Effective use of these insights can guide a business’s strategic focus towards meeting emerging customer demands.
Success in the digital age
Today’s business environment benefits from greater variety, flexibility and scope than ever before. This in turn means that successful business leaders also need a broad range of skills and knowledge to succeed in the modern world. Perhaps, the most important thing to remember is that the 21st century is a time of rapid change and evolution – never stop learning, to ensure your skill set keeps pace with the times!