How improving your digital literacy can transform the employee/customer experience

May 16, 2022
Workers spent so much time and energy compensating for their skill gaps that they dragged down the output of the businesses that employ them.

Digital literacy is fundamental step toward to digital transformation. However, organizations in all industries can encounter limited digital literacy among their teams. Digital literacy in a professional environment isn’t a straightforward concept. It encompasses a group of skills that include competency in common platforms (like Microsoft or Google Office, file-sharing tools, etc.), the ability to determine the validity of information you receive (i.e. identifying a scam email), and learning new technology systems, among other competencies.

Even for staff members who aren’t on IT teams, the ability to add information to a spreadsheet and navigate a file-sharing platform are now table stakes—where they may not have been a few years ago—and higher-level IT skills are required to perform the functions of many positions.

Unfortunately, recent research from The National Skills Coalition (NSC) identified some alarming knowledge gaps; 31% of US workers—or more than 48 million people—had few or no digital skills, and that 38-43% of those workers nevertheless were employed in jobs that required moderate or complex computer usage.

NSC’s research also showed that these workers spent so much time and energy compensating for their skill gaps that they dragged down personal productivity as well as the output of the businesses that employ them.

For organizations to meet the expectations of their internal teams as well as external customers or constituents, they must develop a technology strategy that helps close the digital literacy gap. 

Digital transformation helped address inefficiencies but revealed skills gap concerns

Across all industries—government included—organizations accelerated digital transformations during the COVID-19 pandemic to facilitate remote work, reduce repetitive work for their teams, maintain continuity of services and improve their customers’ experiences. Accelerated transformations starkly exposed not only inadequate infrastructures, but also gaps in staff knowledge and, unfortunately, often little to no thought was given to digital education or closing digital literacy gaps.

Digital transformation instigated a fundamental shift to creating digital-first organized resilience, but fully executing on this transformation is not possible without first improving digital literacy. Automation requires software tools that humans manage, after all. And digital transformations more broadly require advanced IT skills and data-analysis chops; for example, any company that uses digital transformation to grow across boarders—state and country alike—must have a workforce skilled in proper data handling, lest it run afoul of data-privacy regulations and compliance concerns.

The next step for organizations that want to continue to grow is determining where they have skills gaps among their team members and immediately introduce an educational plan designed to close those gaps, whether relying on internal resources or investing in external programs.

Organizational leadership must promote continued learning and growth among their internal customers—their employees. Prioritizing and rewarding the kind of multi-platform digital literacy that’s required among workers will ensure teams can adapt to the challenges of tomorrow.

Skills growth underpins strong hiring strategies

Determining which skills are needed to complete transformations and maintain growth while simultaneously promoting skills growth should be a key talent-acquisition strategy as well. Hiring managers must prioritize identifying and hiring people who possess the requisite skills for today’s business environment.

Process-automation knowledge and skills will be crucial for any modern, transforming organization. AI and its attendant expertise also top the list of other high-demand skillsets companies must highlight in recruiting and training processes. Leaders must also keep an eye on current trends, to anticipate what skills may be in demand in the future. For example, as enterprises continue their foray into distributed transactions and as digital currencies gain steam, more companies may need the services of blockchain experts in the years to come.

Digital transformation and the switch to almost-entirely-digital communications have also shifted the types of soft skills that will be in high demand. IT departments must support a multi-channel approach to interpersonal communication, including interactions through messaging and video meetings, as well as ones that are purely digital. And while operating video-meeting platforms requires digital literacy, understanding how to keep remote colleagues from feeling isolated and how to keep teams properly integrated with a mix of workers requires a different set of skills altogether.

Improving internal digital literacy leads to better customer experiences

Identifying in-demand skills, prioritizing training, and rewarding skills growth will be essential to creating a seamless and collaborative experience for both customers and employees of the future. 

Customers’ digital-first expectations are driving significant change for businesses. Organizations must evolve fast to meet those expectations and drive the business forward. Automation-based digital transformations enable companies to more easily meet these expectations, but these transformations are only possible if leadership can bridge the digital-literacy divide.

By Karl Chan, Laserfiche president

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