When telecom giant AT&T made the momentous decision to transform itself into a digital business, top executives there understood it would take more than replacing the company’s network of telephone switches and fiber-optic cables with a new software-driven infrastructure to make that leap. It would require a wholesale reskilling of the organization’s incumbent workforce to drive the new strategy.

The move from landlines to mobile networks created a challenge for executives that went far beyond replacing infrastructure. Research conducted internally found that 100,000 of AT&T’s employees worked in roles the company wouldn’t need within a decade.1 Recruiting externally to close identified gaps in software and engineering ...

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