• October 27, 2016

Work Be Nimble: Improving Digital Literacy in the Workplace

Spoiler alert: Even millennials need help.

Meet Kristin, a recent graduate who was just hired as a product engineer. Kristin, like many in her generation, prefers to communicate via mobile apps like Snapchat, Hangouts, and Slack, and she expects to have access to any file on any device at any time. Now, meet John, a 20-year veteran of your organization who’s comfortable with traditional enterprise technologies but wouldn’t classify himself as a digital savant.

Imagine what challenges might arise if you put Kristin and John in a room together and ask them to solve a new customer challenge.

The personas above are gross generalizations, of course, but they illustrate the challenges organizations face with digital literacy in the workplace. Consider these statistics:

  • Only 53 percent of the European workforce is considered “digitally literate,” despite the fact that 90 percent of future jobs will demand such skills.
  • In the United States, 10 percent of millennials have avoided applying for a job because they lacked confidence in their digital skills.

3 Ways to Improve Digital Literacy

According to Cyril Coste, Principal Digital Transformation at HPE Enterprise Services U.K., this data points to a clear challenge for the enterprise. Namely, the less digitally literate an organization is, the less flexible it tends to be. And that lack of flexibility can be deadly in today’s fast-paced world.

The good news?

Coste believes there are three simple things the enterprise can do to improve digital literacy throughout the organization and, as a result, dramatically transform their ability to respond to market opportunities and customer needs.

1. Focus first on customer experience.

If you deeply understand the experience your customers want to have, you’ll have a much clearer idea of the tools and technologies you need to deliver on those expectations.

“This will allow you to focus only on the tools and technologies that help you create the products, services, and experiences your customers actually want,” Coste says. “It also dramatically simplifies the process of digital transformation and digital literacy, because your employees will see the value of investing their time into specific tools or technologies.”

2. Make security a priority

According to Coste, both younger and older generations still lack an understanding of how their digital actions impact enterprise security.

“Thanks to BYOD, cloud technologies, and social media, there’s a sense that we should have access to anything at anytime from any device,” Coste explains. “But as any CTO or CIO knows, that’s a security nightmare. So, while digital literacy and transformation should be a priority, it has to come with proper education about permissions so that everyone understands what can and can’t be shared, and who it can be shared with. When those parameters exist, people tend to feel more comfortable using the tools that you have in place.”

3. Invest in education around agile methodology

Having the right tools and technologies in place is one thing. Understanding how to use them in a way that promotes rapid innovation is quite another. This is precisely why Coste believes investing in education around agile methodology is also a key ingredient in digital literacy.

“Agile isn’t just an IT thing anymore,” Coste says. “Used correctly, it can improve how you develop, market, and sell any product, service, or experience. Unfortunately, many people—and that includes millennials—aren’t programmed to think in a truly agile way. I think that aspect of transformation is one of the biggest barriers to digital literacy and, ultimately, true organizational flexibility.”

By building digital literacy in the workplace, the enterprise can gain the flexibility to keep pace with evolving technology and changing business priorities, which is vital to ongoing success.

Like this story? Read more about customer experience, enterprise security, and workplace productivity.

Cyril Coste is a Digital Transformation Principal, Advisory Services at HPE Enterprise Services U.K. A veteran in the digital industry with more than 18 years of experience across business transformation, IT, and marketing strategy, Cyril is responsible for providing both strategic and tactical leadership across transformation client engagements. Follow him on Twitter.