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Digital fluency and why it matters for the success of your organization

Digital transformation has been an organizational goal for quite some time now. Recently, companies being forced to move their operations online proved to be the ultimate digital transformation test.

Some came out on top, while others found themselves struggling with poor infrastructure, outdated or not entirely appropriate tools, and surprisingly, the digital illiteracy of the workforce.
Believing that a person is digitally fluent because they can do simple tasks such as answering emails is a dangerous misconception.

Digital literacy vs. digital fluency

Technology is a big part of our lives, and most adults know how to use at least some of it.

When it comes to organizations being able to operate at a superficial level is not nearly enough. Take speaking a foreign language as an example. At a basic level, someone might understand simple words and form short sentences or ask for directions. Someone who is fluent will be able to not only make do but also be creative, understand linguistic subtleties, and feel comfortable using the language.

What is digital fluency?

Continuing my foreign language analogy, digital fluency is the capacity to understand digital foundations and handle them well enough to employ them creatively.

A recent study conducted by Accenture found that “digital fluency is the lynchpin to unlocking workforce agility. We found that our digital fluency framework predicts and explains 54% of a worker’s ability to be agile.”

Read more: Why developing an agile mindset is crucial for business success

Digital fluency is what has been missing from a lot of digital transformation strategies. Quite often, companies have invested in technology only to overlook the need to build the proper infrastructure and the culture for it. Technology needs to become part of not only a functioning but a thriving ecosystem.

The digital literacy personas

Accenture’s survey of more than 5,000 workers across various industries also identified four distinct types of digital workers. From the ones with the lowest digital literacy to the digital champions, these are:

  • Remote collaborator
  • Disciplined achiever
  • Adaptive team player
  • Relentless innovator

These personas have very different experiences and highly divergent comfort levels with both remote work and the digital competencies it requires. Organizations must identify the individuals in these categories and offer them the support or the freedom to innovate according to needs and aspirations.

Read more: How to ensure the long-term success of your remote team

TQ (technology quotient) is the new KPI to look out for

The digital revolution started four decades ago with the invention of the internet and mobile device development. Digital transformation in organizations is more recent but the new normal brought on by the global health crisis forces companies to put the pedal to the metal.

When it comes to the factors that influence digital adoption, there are both organizational and individual ones that are relevant, but the main drivers of a successful digital transformation are:

  • A positive, enthusiastic attitude and approach to the topic;
  • The right skills and competencies developed by appropriate learning interventions;
  • The social relevance that being digitally fluent has within the organization.

It is the job of HR specialists and L&D consultants to identify the best opportunities then design, deploy and evaluate digital fluency programs.

Digital operations need to become part of the organizational way of doing things

One of the fundamental truths of training is that no matter how good the material is and how skilled the instructor, the knowledge will be soon forgotten if it isn’t tested and used. This is why companies that say they have embarked on a digital transformation journey must genuinely do so in all business areas.

Organizations have to weave digital technologies, such as cloud computing, edge computing, robotic process automation, AI, and machine learning, into everyday operations to get enhanced performance and better business results. It’s not enough to purchase the technology and train people to use it. If it’s not built into the ecosystem, it will end up being a waste of resources.

Read more: What’s in store for the future of training: the intelligent learning platform

Closing thoughts

The future of organizations is closely tied to how well they will be able to integrate the latest technology and move forward with it. Digital transformation processes that began years ago now need to shift gears and go beyond checking boxes on a project management spreadsheet. Companies should make sure that they have all the digital tools they need and that employees can use them confidently and creatively.