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Developing a Digital-First Workforce

Decision Rights/Governance, Employee Experience, Talent

MIT CISR research has shown that organizations that devolve decision making to empowered cross-functional teams outperform their industry peers. Yet in addition to having the authority to decide for themselves what they will accomplish and how to get things done, these teams require digital skillsets to effectively address emerging business priorities and drive organizational transformation. In this research project we will therefore explore organizations’ talent development approaches, with a particular focus on the skills and approaches required to develop a digital-first workforce. Research questions include:

  • What skills do large, established organizations consider essential for a digital-first workforce?
  • How do these organizations identify and classify the required skills in relation to existing skillsets?
  • What activities and approaches help organizations to most effectively upskill and reskill their entire workforce?

Methods: Interviews with leaders who are involved in (setting up) enterprise-wide upskilling and/or reskilling efforts

Seeking: Leaders who are involved in (setting up) enterprise-wide upskilling and/or reskilling efforts. In addition, the research team would welcome the involvement of an organization that has made significant progress in developing a workforce that is digital-first.

Contact: Nick van der Meulen


Nick van der Meulen, Research Scientist

Nick’s work centers on how companies need to organize themselves differently in the face of continuous technological change. Nick is passionate about separating hype from reality using quantitative data, while also studying the complexity of business practice through in-depth case studies.

Cynthia M. Beath, Professor Emerita & Researcher

Cynthia is a Professor Emerita at the McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include the study of how organizations redesign themselves for the digital era and how they get value from data assets.

Dorothy E. Leidner, Ferguson Professor of Information Systems

Dorothy is the Ferguson Professor of Information Systems at Baylor University and the director of the PhD program in Information Systems. Her research focuses on how individuals, groups, and organizations change through the use of information and digital technologies. She has a deep understanding of the behavioral, emotional, and cultural changes brought about by digital technologies.

Olgerta Tona, Lecturer

Olgerta is an assistant professor at the department of Applied IT at the University of Gothenburg. Her research focuses on the digitalization of personal data and the use of data analytics in organizations. 

Related Publications

MIT CISR research is funded by the more than seventy-five firms that sponsor our work and participate in our consortium. 

MIT CISR Patrons
Axway, Inc.
Pegasystems Inc.
The Ogilvy Group
MIT CISR Sponsors
Allstate Insurance Company
ANZ Banking Group (Australia)
Ascend SC
Banco Bradesco S.A. (Brazil)
Banco do Brasil S.A.
Bank of Queensland (Australia)
BlueScope Steel (Australia)
BNP Paribas (France)
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Bupa (Australia)
Cabot Corporation
Caterpillar, Inc.
Cemex (Mexico)
CIBC (Canada)
Cochlear Limited (Australia)
Commonwealth Superannuation Corp. (Australia)
Cuscal Limited (Australia)
CVS Health
Dawn Foods
DBS Bank Ltd. (Singapore)
Doosan Corporation (Korea)
Fidelity Investments
Fomento Economico Mexicano, S.A.B., de C.V.
Fortum (Finland)
General Mills, Inc.
Gilbane Building Co.
Henkel AG & Co. (Germany)
Johnson & Johnson (J&J)
Kaiser Permanente
King & Wood Mallesons (Australia)
Koç Holding (Turkey)
Nasdaq, Inc.
National Australia Bank Ltd.
Nomura Holdings, Inc. (Japan)
Nomura Research Institute, Ltd. Systems Consulting Division (Japan)
OCP Group
Pacific Life Insurance Company
Posten Bring AS (Norway)
Principal Financial Group
Ramsay Health Care (Australia)
Raytheon Technologies
Scentre Group Limited (Australia)
Schneider Electric Industries SAS (France)
Stockland (Australia)
Suncorp Group (Australia)
TabCorp Holdings (Australia)
Telstra Limited
Tetra Pak (Sweden)
Truist Financial Corporation
UniSuper Management Pty Ltd (Australia)
Uniting (Australia)
Webster Bank, N.A.
Westpac Banking Corporation (Australia)
WestRock Company
Wolters Kluwer
Xenco Medical
Zoetis Services LLC
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Center for Information Systems Research
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sloan School of Management
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Cambridge, MA 02142