M&S, one of Britain’s major retailers, has announced that it has joined FutureDotNow, a coalition of major organisations focused on accelerating the UK’s workplace essential digital skills (EDS) at scale. FutureDotNow is coordinating industry action to get working-age adults across the UK equipped with, at least, the essential digital skills for life and work.
Digital transformation is key to the UK’s economy and individual workers. However, the UK is in the midst of a digital skill crisis: 17 million people are without the EDS for work and only 23% have had any digital skills training from their employer. If we are to be a thriving, economically prosperous digital society, we must get all the UK workforce to the digital starting line, with the EDS to problem-solve, communicate and collaborate digitally, transact confidently and handle data securely mindful of organisational security, all whilst being safe and legal online.
M&S recognises the importance of digital skills across its entire organisation, whatever colleagues’ roles happen to be. It joined FutureDotNow because it is keen to pass on its workplace digital skills training successes to the coalition for the benefit of the entire economy and to learn how other members of the coalition identify their digital skills needs and how they address them.
Particularly important to retailers like M&S is digital retail analytics, which provides data on factors including inventory levels, supply chain movement, consumer demand and sales. Analytics are used for maintaining procurement levels and taking marketing decisions. However, these systems depend upon a wide range of people being able to use systems to input data from the front-line.
“Building the digital and data analytics capabilities of our colleagues is key to the M&S digital transformation,” said Suze Howse, head of enterprise data at M&S. “We’ve already made some great progress with the launch of our BEAM learning academy and continued investment in data-education programmes. Fostering a digitally-enabled culture is crucial to the success of M&S and the wider retail industry, which is why we’re proud to join the FutureDotNow Coalition, to share insights that will help others and learn from some of the other fantastic organisations in the coalition.”
Liz Williams, FutureDotNow’s chief executive, said: “It’s great news that M&S, one of the biggest names in retailing, has joined the FutureDotNow coalition to help digitally upskill the UK’s workforces. Many organisations can learn from M&S and the way it has gone about training its people. We are building a coalition that is not only making clear there is a job to be done digitally upskilling the nation, its members are helping each other do this.”