Oct 3, 2017

How to Raise the Digital Intelligence of a Workforce

by Digital Marketing Institute

As a result of digital initiatives, nearly three-quarters of executives have experienced revenue growth as a top benefit, followed by increased profits (47%) and reduced costs (40%). As such, companies are committed to digital as a growth driver but lack confidence in their digital abilities.

With digital transformation now a priority for the majority of organizations, the digital intelligence of employees is key to achieving maturity in the digital age.

To boost digital intelligence, companies need to put people at the center of transformation by aligning the needs of their customers to those of their employees. Here are 4 ways your organization can do just that.

Invest in employee development

Invest in employee development

Despite the growing demand for specialized skills to make the most of the opportunities digital technologies present, many organizations lag behind in providing employee training that makes an impact. In fact, 39% cite a lack of properly skilled teams as an emerging barrier with a quarter claim it’s an existing one.

The need for digital knowledge can prove challenging for employees, from fear of not keeping up with trends and developments, to job losses as a result of automation and disruption due to new competitors. Ignoring these concerns can be very detrimental to a business as it can affect morale in the workplace and impact on productivity and performance putting digital transformation efforts at risk.

In order to avoid this, employers need to invest in their employees so they feel valued and have the necessary skills to thrive in a digital landscape. Agility is key as the pace of change is constant to keep in line with digital technologies and developments. Upskilling is key particularly in the areas that are weak with a business. Assess staff to gauge what skills already exist in-house and tailor a learning program that meets the needs of both the business and employees.

As the digital world becomes more complex with user experience and immersive technologies such as VR and AR becoming more important, employees need to have a broad range of skills to deal with the growing demands of an advancing digital world. So, cross-training staff can help business agility as employees have knowledge of specialist areas outside their own along with innovative and collaborative skills.

Invigorate leaders

Invigorate leaders

When it comes to addressing the shortage of digital skills, we need to start at the top. Leaders need to understand and engage with digital technologies to see how it could benefit or hinder the business along with its impact on the experience of employees and customers.

This can be achieved by:

  • Understand technology – Digital technologies evolve at a relentless pace and provide great opportunities to engage with customers. Leaders should understand the technologies available to ensure their business has its finger on the pulse.
  • Embrace mentorship – Leaders that lead by example will motivate employees to learn and embrace the changes that digital can bring across the business regardless of department or skill level.
  • Continue to learn - While introducing a training program is an effective way to upskill employees, learning initiatives are much more successful when leaders also understand the fundamentals of digital and how it can enhance a business.

Digital maturing organizations are nearly twice as likely as less mature companies to have a person or group leading the effort. In addition, employees in digitally maturing organizations are confident in the abilities of their leaders when it comes to digital fluency which requires the ability to communicate the value of digital technologies to the future of a business.

Integrate learning & work

According to Pew research, over half of adults in the US labor force believe it’s essential to develop new skills throughout their work life to keep up with changes in the workplace. In addition, 35% claim to not currently have the education and training needed to get ahead.

This acknowledgement and appetite for development mean that employees – current and future – are looking for opportunities in their daily roles. This is particularly true for millennials, 71% of which are not engaged or actively disengaged in work.

With this in mind, organizations are keen to integrate learning into their employee’s workflow and turning to models such as 70:20:10 to achieve that. The 70:20:10 model is based on the fact that 70% of knowledge is through job-related experiences, 20% is from interactions such as social learning, coaching and mentoring while the other and 10% is from formal educational events.

Adopting this approach enables organizations to train staff through continuous learning opportunities that can help develop essential skills that can benefit day-to-day tasks especially for those on the move as mobile becomes more and more important as a learning tool.

“Having a high Digital IQ is all about integration, and requires fitting together the pieces of the puzzle – the business, the customer and employee experience and the technology – to build one cohesive and transformative solution.” - Tom Puthiyamadam, PwC’s Global Digital Leader

Focus on Strategy

Focus on Strategy

An MIT Sloan Management Review Report, found that digital transformation is driven more by strategy than technology. However, on the road to becoming a ‘digitally mature enterprise’, many companies in the early stages are falling behind by favoring technology over strategy.

In creating a digital strategy organizations should look at the future and then work backwards. That way a business is looking at the possible capabilities it needs if and when technologies evolve.

According to Benn Konsynski, Professor of Information Systems & Operations Management at Emory University “10 years ago, we would not have predicted some of the revolutions in social or analytics by looking at these technologies as they existed at the time. I would rather start by rethinking business and commerce and then work backwards."

Taking a forward-thinking approach can help to prepare an organization and its staff for future developments and embrace a culture of agility and innovation.

An organization's workforce is its most valuable and important asset. Whether your business is born into a digital world, or you have had to adapt to a new way of doing things, digital skills have never been more important. Follow in the footsteps of successful digitally maturing companies by taking your employees into account when it comes to strategy, structures, culture and processes.

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