The business landscape is evolving, and as industries transform in this new digital age, it seems right to question the role of traditional skills in today’s online world. From qualifications such as a Master of Business Administration online to today’s hybrid and remote employment opportunities, the modern business graduate may rarely, if ever, step foot into a traditional office environment.

What does that mean for the role of business skills that are learned? As we’ll discover, traditional business skills are still highly sought after, and well-regarded in today’s competitive landscape. As we enter a brave new world where the online world transforms how we transact, let’s explore how the contemporary business graduate can hone their traditional skills with the addition of modern skills such as the ability to make data-driven decisions, to become a well-respected and transformative force in any modern business.

Traditional Business Skills Are Incredibly Helpful

In the past twenty years, an evolution in the way businesses operate has shifted the dial for many businesses, large and small. For some, thanks to the power of the Internet, operations can be lean and flexible, allowing staff to work from nearly anywhere. In a world impacted by adverse weather, pandemics, and transportation delays, being able to operate flexibly is no longer optional – it’s demanded.

However, even with these new opportunities, new businesses still struggle to succeed. Some estimates place small business failure rates as high as 60% in the first five years – a daunting number for many prospective entrepreneurs. Diving into the top reasons that these businesses fail helps inform new starters on why businesses fail – in particular, a swathe of operations fail due to a failure to adapt, or failing to ask for support. Traditional business skills include having the ability to negotiate deals and agreements – as well as being able to network with other business owners and share ideas on what allows their operations to succeed or fail.

It may seem that traditional business skills are losing relevance, but in reality, they’ve never been more crucial for operational success. Traditional business skills allow experienced operators and new starters alike to be empowered in all aspects of decision-making – from interpreting financial reports to keeping up with modern strategy. In the years to come, traditional business skills will become even more critical, particularly as businesses experience the full flight of automation.

A Brave New World In Automation

As the digital landscape has embraced businesses, the ability to streamline and improve operational efficiencies through the use of automation has become commonplace. In fact, recent data by research firm McKinsey estimates that as much as one-quarter of small businesses have automated at least one task in their business operations, and as many as forty percent of large organisations.

Automation allows businesses to streamline repetitive tasks through the use of software. For example, a small business owner may use tools such as Microsoft’s Power Apps to create automations to reduce manual handling of documents and sensitive information. This can be an incredibly powerful engine for businesses – enabling them to reduce and sometimes eliminate manual reporting requirements.

As more and more businesses look to use automation in the workforce, modern business professionals will need to have the skills and knowledge necessary to be able to interpret reporting and other automated outputs. With many employees facing technology burnout, this is expected to be a challenge for businesses in the years ahead. Automation has the ability to drastically reduce unnecessary workload for employees if used correctly, however, can be challenging if misused. Understanding the right and wrong way to utilise automation will be critical for the success of modern enterprises.

Data-Driven Decision Making – A Critical Evolution

While many traditional skills have maintained relevance in the transition to a highly connected work environment, it could be argued that evolutions in telecommunications and data have added one more necessary skill to budding business professionals – that is, the ability to make data-driven decisions.

While a century ago, it may have been substantially more difficult to get baseline data for an organisation, in today’s highly competitive markets, businesses both large and small can gather data at a sector or industry level. For businesses that are looking to take the next step, using data to inform decisions can be an incredibly beneficial tool, allowing you to gather insights on a variety of different metrics in different ways.

For example, the operator of an online shoe store may be able to use details on web traffic to identify potential pain points on a website, where customers are likely to drop away, rather than make a sale. This can then inform what next steps may need to be taken to improve the quality of the web experience – for example, offering a discount.

In modern business, being able to utilise data to make informed decisions can be highly beneficial – and for large businesses such as Woolworths, has been standard practice for a number of years. From craft beer to Doritos, being able to make informed decisions based on data can be incredibly powerful. As a business specialist, being able to interpret the data is no longer optional – it’s critical to business success.

Being able to leverage data does not come without risks, however – as many commentators point out, there are a number of pitfalls and potential concerns that arise when trying to use data as a sole decision-maker. That shouldn’t scare businesses away, however – being able to learn from mistakes is vital for future business success.

Transforming Modern Digital Enterprises

As business operations transform from a fixed, immovable environment to a highly flexible model, contemporaries in the business world will need to grapple with the new realities that present themselves. No longer bound to a static site, businesses can use the newfound powers of their hires to take contemporary business practices in a way that embraces and innovates change.

No matter whether you’re a small business, pivoting to online trade as a result of adverse conditions, or a larger firm, streamlining business procedures through automation, opportunities exist for business professionals to use traditional business skills to assist in improving business operations. It’s expected that in the years ahead, these skills will continue to be critical in driving operational success in enterprise, and will be supplemented by the emerging requirement for business professionals to be able to make informed, data-led decisions.

Images: Supplied.

This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Web Oracle.

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