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Marks & Spencer announces data skills academy

Nick Ford, Chief Technology Evangelist at Mendix commented:

“Retail is a notoriously competitive sector, so it’s no surprise to see traditional retailers such as M&S considering how to catch-up with online giants on the path to digital transformation. Yet, as more businesses look to launch new digital services, many complain that they can’t find enough people to make this happen. The reality, however, is often not what it seems as even legacy companies have plenty of digitally skilled people.

The problem is that many businesses are not set-up to adequately nurture those skills. This means that talented people are not encouraged – or even not allowed – to take part in strategically important digital projects. Instead, they remain “trapped” inside legacy structures that stifle their capabilities.

“So businesses are not short of digital skills, what they’re lacking is the digital mind-sets to drive transformation. This great initiative from M&S really taps into that issue – helping equip current employees with the skills to make a difference, rather than gazing outside their business and hoping the change-makers come.

Even outside data science and into business application development, there are plenty of “citizen developers” lying in wait inside many businesses. These employees often have the right ideas, ambition and desire to collaborate – so again it’s the wider digital mind-set that needs to change, not the digital skills. Organisations simply need to encourage and bring these people into the broader business, empowering integrated teams to embrace experimentation, and find the right applications. Only with the right attitudes coming together from all parties can digital projects be successful.”