Mobile phone company Telenor, provider of phone services in Asia and Scandinavia, aims to retrain its workforce of more than 20,000 employees with digital skills as it invests in automation, mobile apps and cloud computing.
The retraining of employees will prepare the organisation for the rapid changes in job roles that digital technology is expected to bring.
Telenor began a digital transformation programme in 2015, which will see it move from on-premise IT to cloud services, build apps that will reduce the need for its customers to phone call centres and automate many of its internal business processes.
Chief people officer at Telenor, Cecilie Heuch, told Computer Weekly that advances in automation and artificial intelligence meant that jobs that exist today will not necessarily exist in the future, and employees will need up-to-date digital skills to adapt.
“We are developing people into new future-oriented roles because all our roles will change and have a bigger digital content in the future,” she said, speaking ahead of an industry conference.
Telenor, which has its main operations in Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Pakistan and Bangladesh, has identified five areas where it lacks sufficient people with the right digital skills – marketing, design, product development, applied analytics and channels.
In addition to on-the-job training and external courses, online training is being offered by Udacity and Coursera, who provide courses from universities and business schools, and Lynda, which provides training courses for LinkedIn.
“As we digitise the customer journey – and this is what we have seen in the past five years – we will have fewer people working in call centres and more people in analytics and data management, because we are looking to personalise offers [to customers],” said Heuch.
Employees are expected to spend at least 20 hours a year taking online courses and certificates, combined with on-the-job training or external courses to meet the 40-hour target.
“As we digitise the customer journey, we will have fewer people working in call centres and more people in analytics and data management”
Different countries are using various methods to make the training collaborative and fun and they can use groups on Facebook at Work to share what they learn and direct others to useful training.
“The online programme makes it possible for everyone to attend. It does not matter where you are located and it does not matter what role you have – you all have equal abilities, which is a very important part of it,” she said.
Each country has some “superlearners” who are expected to share what they learn, applying the learning and talking about the benefits it gives them with other employees. Some have completed 200 hours of training so far, said Heuch, speaking in advance of the Unleash HR and technology conference in Amsterdam.
An “expert education” programme has also been implemented to help employees move into new roles within the company. About 800 people are currently in the programme, which offers more in-depth and intensive training. Senior managers take part in a five-week online strategy-focused course, developed with the business school Insead.
In Asia, businesses have developed one-stop apps that offer a wider range of capabilities. For example, the OneGP app, developed by Telenor’s Grameenphone subsidiary, also allows managers to offer employees feedback on their performance. Employees can look up information on safety, security, ethics, compliance and health.
“The main challenge is to develop a culture for self-learning and to ensure people use online learning as the default way of gaining new knowledge. This takes time,” she said.
The most effective learning comes from combining online learning with experimenting “on the job”, discussing this learning with other people and seeking feedback.
The company has trained more than 8,000 staff to use agile ways of working as it invests in new technology and is encouraging small-scale projects to test ideas.
“You get a small amount of money, you test it out, you see if it works, and then you might get more if it fits, if it works,” said Heuch.