digital fluency

Here at Vokke, we’ve engaged in hundreds of digital transformation projects. Each engagement has its own distinctive set of challenges, often spawning from the sector the business operates in, the current market climate, compliance requirements, etc.

Amazingly, despite such varied problem spaces, our consultants here at Vokke have observed a recurring theme – organizations now, more than ever, must empower their employees with the skills to fully embrace a digital world.

How we got here

Once upon a time, it was sufficient for employees to understand the essential skills of a computer, and perhaps undergo specialized training for specific software, such as word processing tools, spreadsheeting, etc. Equipped with this knowledge, employees would be able to navigate the burgeoning digital world, the deficit of any deep understanding far outweighed by the new levels of productivity rewarded by the technology itself.

Zoom forward to today: CIOs have seen network perimeters evaporate, on-prem systems lifted to the cloud, and then off onto the hybrid cloud, and then some repatriated back. The once small toolkit of software solutions has radiated outward seeding a vibrant diversity of SaaS solutions.

End-users have seen a reasonably small landscape change into a sprawling zoo of software tools. Software for time sheeting, software for document generation, and different software for this type of document. Then there are apps on their phones for multi-factor authentication and VPNs for remote connectivity.

Add into the mix a 390-billion-dollar cybercrime industry, where malware, phishing, and advanced persistent threats lurk behind every email and website. The digital world is very much a different place from what it was even a decade ago.

Companies can no longer rely on their IT providers to deliver the full value of information technology in their business. Instead, it’s time for businesses to take a more comprehensive approach, equipping their team members with the skills to fluently navigate this new world.

Leaders should encourage teams to anticipate and desire change, rather than fear it

Leaders need to equip their teams with the skills to efficiently navigate this digital world. This starts with mindset.

Unfortunately, technology adoption is often viewed as a burden on those who use it day-to-day. This can be placed to many reasons, some of which are rapid change management, improper training, and lack of team buy-in. With this mindset, digital transformation projects will take longer to grow roots.

Leaders should seek to emphasize that technology is a tool that can make their lives simpler, easier, and more rewarding. Once teams view technology as an enabler, they start to anticipate and desire it, as they can personally relate to the transformations it will have within their role.

Once teams view technology as an enabler, they start to anticipate and desire it, as they can personally relate to the transformations it will have within their role.

Take, for example, an accounts receivable representative. In some companies, this role can be a monotonous one, sending and chasing invoices, issuing purchase orders, and reconciling transactions. Equipped with a broad understanding of what’s possible today, this person would no doubt desire change: POs can be automated, machine learning can match transactions to PDFs, and integrations can streamline record keeping. Not only does this empower the individual, but it’s creating a grass-roots movement for digital transformation and innovation.

Everyone in an organization should be exposed to where technology is at today, enabling them to explore, anticipate and desire change.

Leaders should help teams embrace experimentation and adaptation

The path to success is never laid out in front of us. Instead, it requires experimentation and adaptation. For businesses, this is known all too well: constant market pressures, changing regulatory conditions, and an uncertain climate due to COVID are but some examples of what is faced by CIOs and technology leaders.

Despite all the praise towards digital technology, it can sometimes indeed move slowly. This is why it’s important that teams are equipped with the ability to experiment with technology. It’s no longer reasonable to assume you’ll hit the bullseye first shot.

This is why leaders must allow their teams to try new things and embrace adaptation. Sure, machine learning may not help us, but the ROI on paper looks good, so let’s give it a shot. Rather than implement a full-blown data warehouse, let’s implement a small proof of concept and try it out.

We’ve all been thrust into a new world – let’s build organizations that embrace it

Many organizations have barely scratched the surface in terms of the efficiencies they can gain from a digital transformation. Leaders must not just buy into the technology itself, but the notion that this technology will be used by people, and it’s those people, at the end of the day, that will be using the technology on a day-to-day basis.

We need a mindset change where technology is viewed as a transformative tool – not just by management – but by everyone. This will give way to a culture where technological proficiency will flourish, ideas for improvement abound, and technology is utilized to its fullest potential.

Photo by Leon on Unsplash

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