Mr. Gaurav Aggrawal, VP and Global Lead – Everything on Azure Solution Strategy & GTM at Avanade
The pandemic took on the role of Chief Innovation Officer for most businesses. Covid-19 helped businesses accelerate their Digital Transformation to unprecedented levels and invalidated all past assumptions. Now every business is a technology business. Going digital used to be an aspiration for businesses. It’s now imperative for survival becoming a requirement for business continuity, enabling teams to work anywhere and organisations to rapidly adjust in the face of a crisis.
At the very least, Covid-19 has made remote working or hybrid working the new normal. While most companies could shift their workforce online without any issues, some struggled with outdated tools, poor digital setups, and most importantly, the absence of Digital Literacy among the workforce, supply chain ecosystem, and target customers.
As enterprises move from the respond stage to the renew stage, their primary focus should be on building Digital Resilience through Digital Fluency. In the long run, companies can mitigate risks, swiftly adapt to change, and come out of future crises stronger.
Digital Literacy and Digital Fluency?
Simply put, Digital Literacy means how proficient an individual is with technology and how well they can use it to optimise productivity. It is like learning a new language. A new learner will be able to get by with essential words. But a person fluent in a foreign language will be able to get by and understand the nuances of the language and have deep, meaningful conversations, read books in that language, or even write books and poems in that language. So, you see, Digital Fluency helps with many things like discovering new knowledge, unleashing creativity, and yielding increased productivity. It has a multiplier effect on the workforce, and in turn, the organisation.
A study conducted by Accenture in 2020 revealed, “Digital Fluency is the lynchpin to unlocking workforce agility. Accenture found that digital fluency framework predicts and explains 54% of a worker’s ability to be agile.”
Accenture Global Digital Fluency study shows only 14% of companies are digitally mature. These companies capture strong returns in innovation, people experience, and customer value because their workforce has learned to be agile.
Digital Fluency is the missing ingredient in many digital transformation efforts. Digital Fluency is an integrated framework measured by your digital workforce’s technology quotient (TQ) + Digital operations + Digital foundations + Digital leadership and Culture.
Digital Literacy adoption for any business needs to start with the identification of different Digital Personas. Each persona comes with its own unique needs and readiness to be digitally fluent. Identifying these people in the workforce allows companies to bridge the digital skill gap and unlock greater agility. Based on the current understanding and different levels of digital prowess of the workforce, at a high level, most of the personas would fit in 4 Digital Persona Arch types.
The Remote Collaborator
They aremotivated by a sense of belonging and see technology as a critical enabler of their growth. The company needs to show them how new digital tools add value to their work. Create personalized roadmaps, milestones, and social recognition.
The Disciplined Achiever
They are highly motivated to learn digital skills and want to be financially rewarded when upskilled. Make sure they work in cross-functional teams. Set clear learning goals and accountabilities for obtaining new digital skills.
The Adaptive Team Player
They actively seek team-based environments that challenge them to grow in their careers and highly enthusiastic about new digital tools, and look towards organizations to provide customer-grade technology experiences.
The Relentless Innovator
They are among the most educated of all three personas and actively seek to push the digital boundaries at work. Giving them the time and space to tinker with new technology motivates these people. Also, consider putting them in leadership positions where they can mentor others.
Bridging the Digital Literacy gap
The pandemic highlighted the Digital Achievement Gap, i.e., the gap between the high-performing digital-savvy companies and the under-performers.
Digital transformation empowers an organisation to be more efficient and ready for change, creating new experiences for workers and customers alike. Some of the emerging technologies that are an integral part of digital fluency, such as the cloud, can equip the business to pivot quickly amid change and allow for the democratisation of AI, robotics, and self-enablement for workers. But someone must lead the organisation’s journey to hone its digital edge.
So how do companies go about this mammoth task?
1. Adapting is vital
The more quickly the company’s leaders adapt, the easier it becomes for the workforce to sharpen their digital skills.
2. Create a strong Foundation – Reimagine the role of the CIOs
As technologies become business partners for companies, CIOs need to build a tech-forward strategy that enables a higher and faster growth rate. Furthermore, CIOs now need to go beyond just meeting with C-suite. They need to gain in-depth and nuanced insights into creating a digitally rich work environment that benefits the employees and subsequently the business.
3. Switch to Cloud-based solutions
For large businesses to truly hone in on their digital edge, they need to make the switch to cloud-based programs and devices. Cloud services offer the flexibility necessary to ramp up business needs.
4. Raise your Technology Quotient
For a company to be digitally fluent, it has to raise its employees’ Technology Quotient (TQ). To do that the company must first assess the digital skill of each employee. This helps businesses understand workers;
enthusiasm, expertise, and value seen across technologies. Through surveys, digital tests, and even opinion polls, the company will get a fair understanding of how keen and willing employees are to improve their TQ.
Once companies make the assessment, they need to help personnel understand that they are nurturing their skills by sharpening their digital literacy.
5. Refine the journey as required
As with any strategy, companies need to first measure the digital fluency of their personnel and then create a baseline measurement of the current digital literacy level. This measurement will serve as a yardstick that will help keep track of the company’s digital literacy growth.
Is Digital Fluency alone enough?
According to the research group IDC, being digitally literate isn’t enough. Companies also need to start being Digitally Resilient. Sandra Ng, Group VP of IDC Asia/Pacific, has this to say: “Perhaps the most worrying takeaway from the recent pandemic concerns our lack of preparedness as nations, industries, and companies to deal with similar systemic crises, which are inevitable in our increasingly digital and interconnected world. Old approaches have proven wanting. Nonetheless, organisations must not only respond fast to threats but also learn to rise above them opportunistically. Our new digital world calls out for a new technology-enabled approach to deal with future crises — Digital resiliency.”
Digital Resiliency was previously only associated with online literacy and cybersecurity. Still, of late, digital resiliency means how swiftly and effortlessly a company can operate through adversity, readjusting to the current situation without any financial impairment, damage to its reputation, all while safeguarding its customers.
The Covid-19 pandemic has helped companies realise the importance of digital technologies. Woven through the profound sense of uncertainty shaping our world, there is a sense of tech intensity. Businesses now need to capitalise on this opportunity.
The past year has shown us that being digitally literate is the future of business. Digital Resilience is a strategic imperative for every company to underpin competitive advantage in an uncertain world.