Digital skills: what training does your company need?

Inadequate digital skills among the workforce can cause a number of problems, such as wasting time, stopping innovation or an inability to remain competitive. As evidenced by the DESI 2017 – Digital Economy and Society Index on the issue, there are still worrying delays and resistance in Italy. Many companies already offer training for specific roles, especially for those involved in communication however, what is missing is training on transversal digital skills, the kind that everyone needs regardless of job role, which is fundamental. What digital skills should everyone have? In an article a few months ago, we talked about what digital skills are, how to assess and develop them. Now we will try to give to those who have to drive company training some ideas on the same subject. While it is right to implement initiatives related to Big Data, FinTech and artificial intelligence, they will not lead to an increase in the productivity and ability to innovate of individuals. What will, then? SEARCH SKILLS:the fundamental ability to make the most of the digital trend are the approach and the skills needed to perform effective online searches, while being able to assess the validity of the information found. This means both learning to solve work-related problems and ensuring our own continuous learning. For example, by learning how to use search engines properly, we can find calls for tender, research, reports, new suppliers or useful tools for our work much more quickly. Developing the habit of looking online every time we do not know something really allows us carry out on-the-job learning. Have you ever thought what computer experts usually do when asked how to do something? The search for a solution using Google. The next time someone asks you for a course on Excel, ask them what problem they have, look for a solution on Google, send it to them and then suggest a good course on how to use search engines. Learning how to look online is not just a question of solving trivial everyday work problems, but of exponentially expanding knowledge and developing basic digital skills. For example, if you are assigned to a project that you are not an expert in, you can watch lectures on YouTube, attend a Mooc on Coursera or check whether there are courses for your specific need on Memrise. Any course on new technologies, Big Data, cloud or FinTech will be completely useless and meaningless unless you are able to create a culture of searching and self-learning within your organisation. DOCUMENT AND PROJECT COLLABORATION: nowadays, our teams have powerful tools for work and collaboration, more than at any other time in history. In companies, time wasting, inefficiency and mistakes are often caused by poor document management by teams and a lack of tools for collaborative project management. Working with digital tools means mastering solutions (often cloud-based) that allow a team to access project files quickly, even outside the office, or that allow you to work on the same document in real time. Document management is just one of the basic digital skills of a team, but it is obviously not the only one: a team must also be able to master the tools used to manage a to do list or an entire project dynamically. Having a mind-set and correct behaviour geared for digital collaboration is important, even if a company is yet to provide its people with enabling technologies. Nowadays, it is possible to use the many free tools available online such as Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox for document management or Trello, Asana and Bitrix24 for project management. COMMUNICATION AND NETIQUETTE: when it comes to communication skills using digital tools, our thoughts immediately turn to social networks. However, the truth is that the tool used by people in the company is e-mail. Providing good training on the use of e-mail means greatly improving people’s communication skills. E-mail is not the only tool: knowing how to use it also means knowing when is the best time to use it and when it is better to communicate using an instant messaging system, an enterprise social network, a telephone call or a video call. They are all valid tools that, supported by adequate knowledge of how to use them, can increase people’s communication skills. Many companies have a social media policy for external communication (if you do not have one, you can take a look at these). On the other hand, the priority is to increase the ability in the use of tools for communicating with colleagues, suppliers or customers by creating a communication policy that helps people understand which is the most appropriate tool for achieving their goal. In a world full of stimuli, in which communications are received from multiple channels, it is also important to teach how to manage multi-channels and focus on priorities to avoid getting lost in an ocean of messages. Are these the only digital skills that a company needs to develop? No. The successful digitisation of organisations requires many other components such as specific mind sets, openness to change and innovation, as well as other ICT skills such as cyber security. However, if we stimulate the culture of research in people, their ability to communicate effectively with digital technologies and collaborate with their team, we will have created a breeding ground for all future digitisation initiatives. It is undoubtedly the right thing to implement initiatives related to digital trends, but if training limits itself to these initiatives, the risk is that of only understanding the most superficial and less practical aspects of digitisation. Before you can drive a Ferrari, you must first learn to drive. Focus the attention of the people in the company on the development of basic digital skills. Federico Amicucci

written by: Federico Amicucci , 15 March 2017

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