Digital transformation is a prerequisite for modern business success. The introduction of new technologies makes it more flexible, sustainable, and efficient. But before launching this process, you need to remember that there are many obstacles, including internal resistance from the company’s employees.
This is a very serious problem that is especially acute today, when every day brings another innovation. Fortunately, you can overcome it with the help of a tool called digital dexterity. Let’s understand the essence of this concept and pave the way to its practical application.
What Is Digital Dexterity?
The term was first used in a study by Gartner, a major IT consulting firm. It refers to the willingness of enterprise employees to utilize innovative technologies — existing and those under development. It can include both the ability and willingness to work with the progress achievements.
According to Gartner experts, digital dexterity is impossible without cultural change. To effectively use new technologies in the workplace, it is necessary to make sure that they benefit both the company and ordinary employees. Management should play a major role in the digital transformation process by minimizing side effects, consulting employees, and creating a decent working environment.
How to achieve digital dexterity in three steps?
1. Understand the attitude of employees toward technologies
Working with people requires a personalized approach. To convince employees to embrace new technologies and teach them how to use innovations as effectively as possible, you’ll need to find a unique “key” to them. To make the task easier, use the Gartner classification. It divides employees into the following types:
- Custodians. They believe that digital skills don’t affect their careers. They are conservative, striving to unify the devices and applications they use. Have a negative attitude to any innovations, express dissatisfaction with the work of the IT service.
- Engineers. High-level experts who communicate directly with top managers and can influence their decisions in the field of innovation. Believe that the company’s technological level corresponds to their knowledge and skills.
- Travelers. Young employees who bring their own technology to the workplace and often use out-of-the-box solutions. Most of them believe that the company is lagging behind the progress and does not allow them to unlock their skills.
- Navigators. Actively use new technologies, have high expectations of their digital skills. Tend to work remotely — spend an average of 35% of their time away from the office.
- Pilots. Use technology to optimize their use of work time. Closely link their career success to their digital skills. Often use third-party devices and apps to get work done.
In a small company, a manager can quickly organize employees into groups based on day-to-day communication. If it’s a large business, it’s worth conducting research, such as a survey or testing.
People won’t change the way they live or work unless they see a personal benefit. Therefore, the most effective way to achieve digital dexterity will be to demonstrate the benefits of new technologies. Using the categorization described above, you can develop an approach for each group.
For example, for “custodians,” the motivation will be a direct link between salary and knowledge. For “navigators” — the opportunity to spend more time out of the office, and for “pilots” — freeing up personal time to improve skills.
The painful changes associated with the introduction of new technologies are not just for ordinary employees. Management often has to radically change its approach to running a company. To make this process as comfortable and efficient as possible, many enterprises create a separate job for a Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Their role is to create a new business model for each company’s department.
3. Train and retrain employees
One of the findings of the Gartner study is that technology is changing faster than the way people think. As a result, about a third of the skills in demand in 2017 turned out to be useless in 2021-2022. This leads to innovations failing to have the right effect because workers use them incorrectly.
Harvard Business School offers four learning strategies to help overcome these barriers and achieve digital dexterity:
- Focus on skills rather than specialties and positions. Advances in technology can lead to a shift in familiar roles within a company. Management should encourage the adoption of skills that help perform the job effectively rather than fit a particular specialty. The motivation can be an increase in income when changing roles.
- Knowledge sharing. Highly skilled employees with good communication skills can become mentors to help others learn new technologies. Such initiatives should be encouraged by providing tangible and intangible rewards.
- Internships. Sometimes, the most productive approach is to temporarily remove an employee from the usual workflow. By taking an internship in another division of the company, they can focus on mastering new technologies.
- Partnership with educational institutions. Teachers from universities and professional development centers can assist in the company’s digital transformation. They possess both relevant knowledge and training methods.
Digital transformation is impossible without digital dexterity. Before you can integrate new technologies into your company, you must prepare your employees to use them. And to do this, you should study the needs of your employees, transform your business from top to bottom, and develop an effective training and retraining strategy.