Culture is the secret sauce to secure top digital talents

Finding digital talent and bridging the digital talent gap in organizations are going to be a top level priority for companies big and small in the next two to three years. By Lars Norling, CEO, dtac

It won’t be easy. A study that just came out by Capgemini, conducted in collaboration with Linkedin, showed that 55 percent of companies worldwide think the digital gap inside their organization is getting wider. One study by Gartner said 30 percent of tech jobs will be unfilled by 2020. And if you think being a big company is enough of an advantage to get all the digital talent, think again. Boston Consulting Group research shows that only 25% of the digitally skilled people found in online recruiting databases today are working at companies with 10,000 or more employees.1

Meanwhile, businesses are under pressure from consumers to offer better digital services. Telcos are no exception. The industry figures for digital sales are under five percent. Customer care is under 15 percent. dtac is doing better than these global average but we still need to do much more.

That’s why digital transformation is at the very top of dtac’s agenda. We want to offer our customers the very best digital services. We’ve already simplified our app dramatically, such as cutting by half the steps required to process bill payments.Chatbots respond to 30 percent of the questions sent to us by SMS. And with Go No Limit, we’re giving our users unlimited data. These are the kind of changes we can make thanks to our digital talent.

To accelerate our progress, dtac plans to hire a couple hundred digital talents by 2020. But acquiring digitally-skilled people is actually relatively easy compared to retaining them or developing existing employees’ skillsets. This is where most large, long-established organizations struggle to compete with tech companies like Google or Facebook.

If you keep a legacy business’s culture intact, meaning hierarchical and risk-averse, and hire bright, young digital talents, they will not thrive. Digital talents want to work in an agile organization that understands project-driven work. As opposed to traditional models where a bulletproof plan is made in consultation with all the higher ups, agile models privilege working fast, measuring your impact, and adapting continuously.

While this has been notoriously difficult for large companies to implement, dtac already has over 10 projects developed using the agile method. For example, the new dtac app, which is for our customers, and the dtac one app, which is for retailers, were both rolled out in a few short months rather in a year. And they are constantly getting new features.


We also have a program, Ignite, which allows employees or teams of employees to pitch a project to the whole Telenor group. They get mentorship from local experts and also global talents. And if their project gets selected, they even go on boot camp in Norway or Singapore. They then compete against projects from all 13 of Telenor’s markets. And finally, they get three months off from their regular job, fully paid, to work on their project. We’re currently in the third batch, and the winner of the first batch was actually a Thai project. We have another team going to Hungary in a few weeks!

Of course, dtac’s organizational structure remains a hybrid. Parts of our business are structured in the traditional way. Others, such as the digital group, are very flat. But even where the org chart isn’t flat, our culture is very open. For example, managers don’t have offices at dtac. Even I don’t have one. And dtac house is famous for its many relaxing, living-room like zones and a huge recreational area complete with running track, karaoke rooms and yoga studio.

I’m also confident that dtac offers some of the best digital training in Thailand. dtac academy and Telenor Campus offer courses on core competencies, all the way up to leadership skills. We work with top names like MOOC, Coursera, INSEAD and the London Business School. The platforms are available as workshops but also as online courses available 24/7 and through our very own internal app, Plearn.

As a result of our culture, our employees are highly mobile. Within the past 12 months, 46% of our employees enjoyed some career movement: 8% were promoted internally, while the remaining 37% moved laterally. That’s quite high compared to other organizations.

Hiring digital talent will allows us to make our customers lives simpler and easier. The dtac app will keep getting smarter about understanding what package works best for you, helping you to save money and get more data. Digital customer care will get faster and faster. Online payments will be increasingly simple, so that you don’t have to visit shops for routine operations. But this is just the beginning. Using advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things and machine learning, our new digital focus will lead to innovations we can’t even foresee yet. By 2020, dtac will be our customers’ favorite digital partner and Thailand’s number one digital brand.


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