“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”– George Bernard Shaw
The pace of technological change is faster than ever. We often talk about digital transformation when adopting new technologies, but the pace of change is so rapid it is better defined as a Digital Continuum. But how fast is technology changing, you might ask? As an example, this year, Matt Turck shared his 2023 MAD (Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence & Data) Landscape, and as he keenly pointed out, “This year, we have a total of 1,416 logos appearing on the landscape. For comparison, there were 139 [logos] in our first version in 2012.” That’s a little over 10x in 11 years. So, there are definitely some new technologies requiring organizations to continually upskill their workforces. Couple that fact with, “Today, about 50% of jobs need employees to have technology skills, but it’s estimated that by 2030, 75% will have such requirements. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated the growth …”
What can we do? As organizations navigate an era of exponential technological change, it requires building workforce capabilities that evolve as rapidly as the innovation itself. More than just adopting the latest tools, it means cultivating talent that can adapt to constant shifts and leverage technologies to drive competitive advantage. This degree of agility demands enterprise-wide digital literacy. We can begin by building digital literacy and embracing an adaptive mindset to thrive in the Digital Continuum. As leaders, we should aim towards establishing a digital literacy program that equips employees with the skills and mindset to effectively embrace new technologies. Helping them pivot from seeing technology as a black box or mystery and instead seeing it as a force multiplier and understanding its relevance.
Digital literacy empowers continuous learning – it is the killer app for organizational resilience along the Digital Continuum. At its core, digital literacy is less about mastering specific technical skills and more about fostering the mindsets and behaviors that enable rapid upskilling. How adept is your workforce at continuously adopting new solutions? How quickly can talent reskill when needs change? The answers depend largely on digital literacy.
Digital Literacy Competencies & Resources
At its core, digital literacy is about more than just technical skills. It’s about cultivating an agile workforce that can adapt to constant change. This means focusing not just on tools and platforms but on broader competencies like:
- Critical thinking to assess new information and trends
- Creativity and innovation to apply technology in novel ways
- Communication and collaboration skills to share knowledge
- Growth mindset to continuously upskill and evolve
Beyond competencies, it’s vital to foster the right culture. The “be comfortable being uncomfortable” ethos is key. Change brings discomfort, but discomfort breeds growth. As a leader today, right now, what can you do to start upskilling your team? You can help facilitate the use of resources like:
- Online training courses and microlearning on digital skills (e.g. open or paid online training like Code Academy, Flatiron School, Coursera, and Udacity)
- Access to experts via mentoring and coaching (e.g. within your organization, your network, LinkedIn, and others)
- Immersive workshops to experience emerging tech firsthand
- Job rotations to build cross-functional literacy
- Incentives for self-directed learning and upskilling (e.g. YouTube, Google, even LLMs like ChatGPT, Bard, Claude)
But more importantly, these approaches will promote continuous learning as a core value. Technology will keep transforming, so learning cannot stop. As Winston Churchill stated, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” Digital literacy programs should aim to develop a responsive workforce.
Without enterprise digital literacy, the Digital Continuum becomes harder to achieve. Lack of comfort with technology adoption can impede transformation initiatives while functional silos struggle to collaborate to implement innovations. By empowering people to skill, reskill, and upskill along the Digital Continuum, we can evolve into agile organizations equipped to leverage technology for competitive advantage. But it starts with building a culture obsessed with lifelong learning, not just tools. Organizations full of lifelong learners fully embrace the latest platforms and analytics to execute digital strategies. The Digital Continuum represents an endless opportunity to learn and grow. Let’s embrace it, be uncomfortable, and radically reskill together.
If you want help or support establishing your Digital Literacy program or strategy, contact James “Jim” Eselgroth.