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Dentsu Aegis Network’s journey in making talent more ‘digital’

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Ujjwal Sarao, regional director of talent management at Dentsu Aegis Network in Southeast Asia reveals the two-pronged strategy the firm has adopted in order to be 100% digital by 2020, and shares exclusive details behind the launch of the DAN Academy as well as new learning management system.

2015 was an exciting year for us at Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) SEA, with the launch of DAN Academy Thailand, the pioneering learning management system (LMS) that supports the DAN Academy and establishment of ground-breaking learning partnerships.

The starting point for this journey is our vision at DAN to be 100% digital by 2020.

DAN SEA talent management team developed a two-pronged strategy to work towards the Digital 2020 goal: 1) building internal capability to achieve this vision and 2) improving employee engagement, operational efficiency to accelerate the journey towards Digital 2020.

Digitisation is our objective as an organisation but also imperative as a way to get ahead of our competitors, retain and attract top talent.

Our number one asset is our talent and our future lies with professionals who belong to the ‘multi-screen’ and ‘always on’ generation. It was critical to narrow the gap between talent management programmes and IT implementation.

Our mantra to achieve this is smart data, smart technology and smart collaboration.

We undertook a series of pioneering talent management initiatives focusing on operational excellence; improved engagement and strategic impact with the overarching goal of accelerating DAN talent on the Digital 2020 pathway.

In 2013, we had launched the Dentsu Asia Development Academy and to further our learning academy after the acquisition of Aegis Media, our vision for 2015 was to further the learning agenda by institutionalising a DAN Academy in each of our markets in SEA.

In order to build internal capability to meet our Digital 2020 objective, we also initiated and built the most ambitious and innovative learning platform for our agency, as part of the DAN learning agenda.

DAN Academy

DAN Academy was initiated at the start of 2015 with the vision of helping DAN professionals become leaders in content, mobile technology, data analytics and social media through a combination of building capability in skills and mind-set.

The objective is to prepare them for holistic, collaborative thinking that will, in turn, help grow our clients’ brands and business.

DAN Academy charter is founded on the concepts of innovation and collaboration- offering a mix of core programmes (locally designed and delivered 1o1 programmes), advanced programmes (speciality development) and leadership development (high potential emerging leaders, business innovator series) at local, regional and global levels.

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Structurally, each of the 6 key markets in the SEA region will have a DAN Academy. Each Dan Academy is steered by its learning council that comprises of external and internal leaders and chaired by the Dean of the Academy.

External advisors include university partners, key clients, business leaders and regional DAN representatives.

In order to institutionalise the DAN Academies in various markets across SEA, we have established partnerships with global learning organisations and some prominent local universities and partnered with professional associations for certifications (such as a certificate in mobile marketing from the Mobile Marketing Association) and to make available intensive courses (such as DAN Lab by Hyper Island) as part of the DAN Academy learning agenda in each market.

DAN’s learning management system

The LMS is an agile, efficient, user-friendly and customisable LMS that supports DAN Academy and will empower each DAN professional to take the lead on his or her own professional development.

It will also enable them to create a customised learning development plan closely aligned to their learning needs and provide a virtual learning library available at the click of a button.

At an organisational level, LMS makes it possible to track the learning rates and records of each professional; support a wide variety of multi-media learning modules, enable course content customisation; nesting of learning activities that support the overarching programs, supports advanced analytics and is easily maintained.

Aligning learning content regionally and locally while enabling the LMS in multiple languages and ensuring a seamless user experience with technology variations in each market was challenging.

Carefully coordinated efforts between talent management team, IT teams and the vendor; dry runs and user test sessions and regular pulse checks have helped us ensure the platform works well.

Launching the platform and encouraging first time users to adapt and utilise the system was also a challenge since we were pioneering the concept of an online learning platform for the region.

For the Thailand launch, we had a one month orientation period where we helped DAN Thailand employees get familiar with the system and register for the learning modules on the LMS.

Measuring the ROI of both programmes

The success of the DAN Academy and the LMS will be measured by feedback gathered from the end users at all levels including leaders, managers, executives, HR and IT teams.

In addition, going forward the annual Global Check-In survey, which will include questions on the DAN Academy and the LMS.

At a more granular level, we use three metrics to measure the success of these initiatives:

  • operational efficiency,
  • improved engagement
  • strategic impact

The DAN Academy charter is closely aligned to DAN vision and values and our business priorities as an organisation. Tailoring our learning agenda to enable the business objective of Digital 2020 plays a crucial role in the success of our academy.

 Image: Provided

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