8 digital transformation courses to check out

Want to learn more about digital transformation - without spending a lot? Consider these study resources for digital transformation leaders or anyone wanting broader, fresher skills.
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Rocket coming out of computer to represent moving faster in digital transformation

The hard work of digital transformation continues: More than three-quarters (78 percent) of managers and over half of employees (57 percent) said that their companies are in the midst of this ongoing exponential change, according to a late 2020 survey from Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

But is it proceeding effectively? Nearly a third of employees said that their companies weren’t moving fast enough – and a majority of respondents indicated that their organization should be investing more in digital transformation. The least successful aspect of current digital initiatives, according to BCG’s survey respondents, is training, upskilling, and hiring.

Skills are essential – particularly in the IT organization. If you’re a team leader looking to build digital transformation skills, you may need some economical suggestions to share with your team. If you’re a team player, you may want to check out the options for yourself.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Digital transformation: 8 ways to study more

IT professionals at various career points and levels of digital transformation understanding can take advantage of a number of low-cost classes, webinars, and content collections to bolster their own knowledge and capabilities. Consider this roundup of options:

1. Digital Transformation (Coursera)

The Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia offers this beginner-level class in conjunction with the Boston Consulting Group. At an estimated 14 hours to complete, it features instructors including Darden senior associate dean and chief strategy officer Michael Lenox, BCG managing director Amane Dannouni, and others. This 101-level course outlines the imperative to change digitally, the context of digital transformation, and what such changes demand of an organization. It also trains students in the BCG framework for identifying key DT opportunities. If you want to converse more fluently about the economics of DT, understand the pros and cons of digital adoption, and explore a framework for digitization, this is an option.

2. Transforming Your Company's Data Analytics: Championing the Digital Enterprise (EdX)

This is a professional certificate program ($719.40 for early birds and $796 for everyone else). However, the four self-paced courses in this pack – Introduction to Transforming with Data Analytics and the Digital OrganizationEffecting Digital Transformation with Data Analytics ProjectsMaking Evidence-Based Strategic Decisions, and Storytelling and Persuading using Data and Digital Technologies – ­are also available for free (without a certificate). University of Maryland, College Park faculty member Bill Brantley covers all four in four months (two to three hours a week). The goal: to enable managers to assess their digital competitive stances and understand how to improve. The key, he says, is to focus not just on changing the tools. As the program description says: “To truly sustainably improve the customer experience and achieve the competitive advantage that the power of data promises, you need the social technologies and processes that are able to adapt along with your data strategy.”

3. Foundations of The Fourth Industrial Revolution (LinkedIn Learning)

LinkedIn Premium subscribers enjoy this course (complete with 21 video classes and five quizzes) for free; for everyone else, it’s $34.99. Former City of Palo Alto CIO Dr. Jonathan Reichental (now founder of business and tech advisory Human Future) is spearheading this class. The fourth industrial revolution takes digital transformation a step further, says Reichental, because it has the potential to change how we learn, work, move, communicate, and interact. This series of lectures takes participants through the disruptions already underway and their predicted impact on the future. This is a good option if you want to explore the larger impact of emerging technologies like AI, blockchain, and IoT on not only businesses but also society.

4. Business Considerations for Edge Computing (EdX)

5G, AI, IoT: They’re all converging at the edge. If that’s the extent of your knowledge about edge computing, this online class from the Linux Foundation offers a much deeper dive. It’s seven weeks (in one- to two-hour bursts) covering what edge computing is, what problems it can solve, and how it intersects with 5G, AI, and IoT. This course also covers data privacy and security, innovation use cases, and the influencers and open source projects to monitor. This course is free ($149 if you’d like a verified certificate) and requires a basic understanding of networking concepts and terminology.

5. Cloud Architecture: Advanced Concepts (LinkedIn Learning)

Another freebie for LinkedIn Premium subscribers ($34.99 for everyone else), this is a series of 22 video lectures from Deloitte’s chief cloud strategy officer David Linthicum. New architectural patterns and concepts have changed the way IT organizations design for the cloud. If you need to know more about how microservices, containers and serverless computing, and other emerging approaches will impact cloud architecture, consider this option. This platform- and cloud-neutral course provides a broad overview for IT professionals who want to understand the impact of new technologies on their business. It also incorporates DevOps integration and advanced architecture strategies.

[ Learn more about hybrid cloud strategy. Get the free eBooks, Hybrid Cloud Strategy for Dummies and Multi-Cloud Portability for Dummies. ]

6. How Digitally Savvy Boards and Leadership Teams Pay Off (MIT)

In this free webinar, MIT Sloan Center for Information Research (CISR) chairman Peter Weill and senior director for executive education Meg Regan discuss the ROI of digital understanding at the highest levels. It’s just 30 minutes long, but it delivers some valuable insight for IT leaders on the role of the board and executive team in digital transformation, what constitutes digital savviness in these non-technical leaders, and why that is key to corporate performance.

7. RPA, AI, and Cognitive Tech for Leaders (LinkedIn Learning)

It’s all about intelligent automation in this course from digital transformation expert and co-founder of Symphony Ventures Ian Barkin. For $24.99 (free on LinkedIn premium), you can access 22 videos and four quizzes related to robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning (ML), and other cognitive technologies, and how to apply them in your organization. Barkin places emphasis on weeding out the hype, setting expectations, and preparing for intelligent automation-enabled transformation.

8. What is Digital Transformation? (Enterprisers Project)

A little self-promotion: In this powerhouse page, we’ve gathered together our community's best digital transformation insights and expert advice in one spot. This covers everything from the basics (What is digital transformation? and Why does digital transformation matter?) to the latest (How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed digital transformation?) Check it out and share it with others as an explainer, using our downloadable PDF

Could your team also benefit from a digital transformation workbook, with exercises and approaches to consider? Download Transformation Takes Practice, from Red Hat's Open Innovation Labs. 

[ Culture change is the hardest part of digital transformation. Get the digital transformation eBook: Teaching an elephant to dance. ]

Stephanie Overby is an award-winning reporter and editor with more than twenty years of professional journalism experience. For the last decade, her work has focused on the intersection of business and technology. She lives in Boston, Mass.

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