French company management in departments most affected by the digital wave seem now to have a clearer understanding of what the digital transition is all about. Within five years, close to two thirds of all staff in Marketing, Finance and Human Resources will have mastered the skills they need, says a new report.

Digital Transition: Key French Company Management Seem to Have Now Grasped the Issues

What will be the impact of digital on jobs in key areas of French companies? This is what a report entitled l’Observatoire de l'évolution des métiers liée à la transformation numérique (Survey on the evolution of jobs linked to the digital transformation), drawn up by market research firm IDC on behalf of Microsoft France in January, seeks to clarify. IDC researchers polled 225 senior managers working in three key departments – Marketing, Finance and Human Resources – at companies based in France with over 500 employees. Their aim was to determine the impact of the digital transformation on the central decision-making chain. Results gave a picture of how existing jobs in companies are changing, and revealed that new jobs based on digital skillsets are emerging.

Digital impacting basic job skills

At the moment scarcely a third of all employees in Marketing, Finance and HR departments at the large French companies surveyed possess computer skills, but the report predicts that in five years this proportion will have risen to 59%. Given this forecast, against the background of the digital revolution that is taking place in all sectors of industry, the report suggests that the time spent on computer/IT tasks within Marketing, Finance and HR is set to increase significantly. In fact 71% of those quizzed in these three departments stated the view that the explosion of data volumes will have an impact on the skills needed for a wide variety of jobs at the company. Nathalie Wright, who heads the Large Enterprises and Alliances Division at Microsoft France, believes that “this substantial figure underlines a real awareness of the strategic role of digital in a company’s development and the major impact it’s having on the content of all types of jobs.” The survey shows that views on the importance of digital-based work differ from one department to another. Marketing management, for example, put the Community Manager – who manages the company’s online communities and is therefore central to its ‘social’ activities – in number one spot, a view which is not shared by the other managers polled.

The jobs of tomorrow

Some 57% of the decision makers polled by IDC do however believe that the digital transformation will lead to the creation of new positions and/or profound changes in existing job profiles. The Chief Data Officer, who is in charge of managing company data, the Data Protection Officer, responsible for the company’s data security and compliance, the Community Manager whose job is to manage the company’s online communities and social presence, and the Data Scientist/Statistician are seen as key jobs in the future. Many companies are now creating Data Scientist posts and over the next two years this skillset is likely to be the most sought-after on the job market, the survey reveals. Some 68% of the HR Managers polled foresee the creation and development of new skillsets at their firms. And although Human Resources is the department least directly impacted by digital, it appears to be the most advanced when it comes to establishing new digital-oriented posts, as HR is called upon to play a central role in change management linked to the digital transition. Meanwhile Finance department decision-makers think that their field will be most affected by the digital advance, but respondents nevertheless indicate that this department is lagging furthest behind in creating relevant new posts. The IDC experts therefore underline that French company Finance departments are going to have to work hard over the next couple of years to catch up.