Modern technology has become a core part of our workplace, with virtually all jobs requiring increasing levels of ‘tech literacy’. From the C-suite, to the employees of the contact center, everyone relies on machine learning, collaboration tools, and cloud-based applications for their daily work.
While enterprises continue to accelerate the digitalization of products, services, and customer interactions, employees scramble to learn mission-critical applications only to adjust, unlearn and relearn skills to keep pace with fast-evolving technologies.
The result is a disconnect between technology investments and their utilization. According to the Everest Group, nearly three-quarters of organizations saw lower sustained returns from digital investments due to a lack of user adoption.
Why is digital literacy so critical across the enterprise?
Workforces should be able to productively and comfortably adopt and use technologies for their work. In fact, this is relevant for almost every job in almost every company, regardless of whether it's an engineer in a niche software development role or a sales personnel using a CRM application.
Digital literacy in the workplace broadly covers three areas: project collaboration, digital etiquette, and cybersecurity. A good command over these practical skills can have a strong and lasting impact on business operations.
According to a report from National Skills Coalition, nearly 33% of workers in the US lack the necessary skills to use digital devices and communication applications, even though 43% out of these rely extensively on computer usage for their jobs.
The writing is on the wall. Digital literacy isn’t a ‘nice to have’ skillset, it’s an indispensable asset for today’s digitally run business environment. And it comes with a strong ROI. Considering conservative estimates which put the cost of replacing employees at 11/2 to 2 times their annual salary, the cost savings of upskilling programs is clear, especially amid today’s ‘Great Resignation’. 94% of employees say they’d remain in their jobs longer if their companies invested in their learning and development.
Fostering measurable digital literacy
Security threats and breaches are on the rise, and according to certain estimates, 33.4 billion records were affected by data breaches between 2018 and 2019 simply due to cloud misconfigurations. These breaches have costed companies in the vicinity of $5 trillion. So the stakes will be high for businesses when their biggest vulnerabilities come from their workforce. But cybersecurity is just one of many critical aspects of digital literacy training.
Employees are expected to use technology to collaborate with their colleagues and other stakeholders within the company. The first step is training them on boundaries and best practices for online self conduct. The most effective way to build a digital literacy program would be to get first-hand feedback from the workers on the technologies they would want to learn to perform their jobs more efficiently. Businesses can then build these programs around their employees' goals, as well as the requirements for the given role. Businesses can host polls and quizzes and evaluate the areas they need to work on in the training sessions. If there are any hurdles, it helps to learn via Digital Adoption Platforms (DAPs) that work within applications to provide recurring contextual guidance, smart-walkthroughs, and tips to the users. These DAPs also help analyze user engagement behaviour and measure feature utilization process completion rate in order to understand the effectiveness of the whole spectrum of digital literacy programs.
Leveraging cross-training strategies in a tight labour market
According to a recent report from the World Economic Forum, 82% of companies across the globe lack basic cybersecurity skills training for their employees. Training all employees on cybersecurity best practices can significantly reduce the workload of the IT team, essentially creating the first line of defence against online threats.
Cross-training employees can enable the workforce to gain basic skills in different fields and better utilize the resources at their disposal. Here are some best practices for successful cross-training:
- Pinpoint end-goals: Address your current requirements after verifying current digital literacy levels and set goals accordingly.
- Take risks into account: Employees have their perceptions of training sessions, and it's essential to address their queries.
- A comprehensive game plan: Work with the HR team to address all training requirements, collaborate with institutes that deliver the training you're looking for and define required outcomes.
- Rewards and recognitions: Recognize the efforts and offer rewards to motivate the team.
Moving the needle on digital literacy
Failure to adopt modern technologies puts the future success of companies at risk. To that end, businesses across the globe are adopting a paradigm of upskilling and cross-skill efforts. Here are a few notable instances:
- JP Morgan’s $350 million five year global initiative to prepare for the future of work and meet the growing demand for skilled workers
- Verizon’s investment of over $44 million in workforce development to significantly increase access to a free tech-focused career training program aimed at reskilling Americans
- Walmart’s investment of (nearly) $1 billion over 5 years to upskill 1.5 million full and part-time workers through its Live Better U program
Regardless of the size, all organizations are steadily investing in digital literacy programs to bolster their digital transformation goals further.
While digital literacy is critical for today’s workers, it can’t stand on its own. Just as a stool would collapse without all three legs, true digital equity requires three components: access to broadband, democratic reach of devices, and digital literacy. Leaders who can address these three ‘legs of the stool’ will invest not only in their workers but also in the future success of the enterprise.
Reinforce the concept of digital equity in your enterprise with:
Reskilling the workforce
Investing in technology and filling skill gaps
Spreading the message of innovation and risk taking
Engaging and empower employees