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Digital Literacy : Transforming Business

Posted by denise on 26 January 2018 | 0 Comments

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The one mistake that stops businesses from making the most of technology

This is a guest contribution from Paul McGregor at Adult Learning Support - the Nelson branch of Literacy Aotearoa.

Technology has the potential to transform your business.

We all know the potential for technology to transform your business. Even small enterprises can now access powerful software for only a couple of dollars a month. You can automate everything from payroll to health and safety compliance. From project management to marketing. And everything in between.

 In this confusing new world, businesses have a lot to think about to ensure they aren’t falling behind.

 A recent article by Justine Kennard from Crowe Howarth listed some of the key areas businesses neglect, and could improve:

- “Find out the full capability of your software so you can understand what data and processes it can offer.
- Learn how to adopt new processes or technology to increase the speed of doing business or reduce the time and cost of mundane tasks.
- Take the time to work out how to communicate the benefits to staff to engage them in adopting the technology.
- Become familiar with the data the software produces, including benchmarking, anomalies, revenue leakage and excess expenditure.
- Understand the overview of how to transform your business if you have been delaying doing so.
- Assess your exposure to fraud by identifying risks such as fictitious employees or vendors, suspicious transactions, journals and activities, or non-compliance with financial controls.”

But she missed one key success factor - and it’s one that many business leaders take for granted.

Do your people have the skills to engage with the technology you're providing them?

If your people can’t even do basic computing tasks, then even the best technology system will just suck your money.

You might spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a software system. But if your people don’t have the skills to input data at the front end, you won’t see the business benefits at the back end.

Most of today's workforce lack the skills they need

Thirty-five is the peak age for technology skills in New Zealand, according to the OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills.  If you’re older than 35, chances are you would have typed this article using just your index fingers.

And if you work in the primary, secondary or healthcare industry, over half of your people might not have even basic computing skills. They might be able to turn a computer on, but they’ll need somebody on standby if anything looks different to what they’re used to.

Despite this, many organisations in New Zealand are throwing all sorts of resources at implementing expensive technology systems.

Many people aged over 35 might never have been taught how to use a computer. They grew up in a world of landlines, typewriters, telegrams, telex and snail mail. The world laughed at Bill Gates when he dreamed to put a computer in everybody’s home. For most of the lifetime of most of today’s workforce, computers just weren’t part of everyday life.

9 out of 10 new jobs require digital literacy

Today, literacy is about much more than just the Three R’s. Reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. In today’s technology-rich world, it’s more important than ever to be digitally literate.

Digital literacy is about making things happen using technology. Digitally literate people know you can’t break computers. And they know the number one proven-to-fix-almost-anything tech tip. (Just google it.)

In the USA, 9 out of 10 new jobs being created require some form of digital literacy, and the situation is probably the same here in New Zealand.

It’s not just new jobs, either.

Construction workers. Plumbers. Teachers. Care workers. Anybody in any profession now needs to use computers.

In 2017, Adult Learning Support started a computing programme at an aged-care facility here in Nelson. Most of the participants were in their 60s. They weren’t hugely interested in learning about computers. But they had come to realise that they had passed the point of negotiation.

It’s no longer an option to sit by and watch them youngsters flash their fingers over the keyboard. Computers are everywhere, in every profession and every job.

Empower your people to make the most of technology.  People are not your greatest asset... Your greatest asset is how you empower your people. ~ Anthony Bradley and Mark McDonald in the Harvard Business Review.

With digital literacy, it’s the same.

If your organisation has spent any money on digital technologies in recent years, then you need to spend time and money empowering your people with the capability to use those technologies.

Not sure where to start?

Okay, so you’ve reached the end of this article. Which means you probably agree that your employees need to be better skilled with technology.  How do you take the next step? It can be hard to figure out who needs help - and what they need help with.  You can use this simple one-page assessment to get a snapshot of your employees’ skills. Download it here.

 It takes no more than 3 minutes for people to fill it out. Once you’ve got that information in your hands, your next step will be pretty obvious. Maybe you’ll have a few people who clearly need basic computing training? Or maybe everybody is lacking one or two key skills?

Or, perhaps everybody’s skills are already up to par? Lucky you. Now you can work on making technology drive your business.

If you enjoyed this post, we recommend these posts from Adult Learning Support:

Adult Learning Support is the Nelson-based branch of Literacy Aotearoa - one of New Zealand’s largest literacy-based training providers. For over 40 years, they’ve helped employees to live up to their potential at work. They are funded through the Tertiary Education Commission, so often their programmes will cost you nothing.

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