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Digital Literacy 101

By Garrett Spence   |    January 8, 2018   |    8:54 AM

How to School Your Staff in Digital Literacy

Educating your employees about new technology can help them become more “digitally literate.” What exactly is digital literacy and how can it help your business? Here's how you can "upskill" your employees, so your company can succeed in an ever-shifting landscape.

What Is it?

Digital literacy can be defined in a number of ways that leave many people scratching their heads in confusion. In turn, it's generally more useful to describe the characteristics of a digitally literate person. In essence, this individual will possess the technical and cognitive skills required to locate, comprehend, create, evaluate and communicate digital information in a variety of formats through a variety of digital mediums.

One of the biggest reasons for the increased importance of digital skills centers is the way the modern buyer's journey has evolved. In the past, a consumer learned about products and services through ad messaging via print, radio or television. These days, consumers have wrestled away much of the power and now use the internet to seek out solutions and information that will help them solve their problems.

This change has made it critical for organizations to develop the abilities to market themselves online. To do this, however, companies must develop a wide range of digital skills that will allow them to publish content, leverage social media and harness search engine optimization to effectively engage with consumers.

Educating Your Employees

While a huge part of digital literacy centers on marketing - ethics, security and legalities also come into play. Companies can face serious issues when employees inadvertently violate ethical standards, terms of service or legal regulations through the publication of certain materials. Digital illiteracy can also lead to security breaches, when workers unknowingly expose sensitive company data. Likewise, since one poorly thought-out social media post can result in a public firestorm, it's important for employees to understand not just the technical aspects of working with digital information, but the ramifications of certain actions.

For a company to bring its staff up to speed, however, it must first evaluate where things stand. This means assessing each worker based on his or her existing knowledge base.

For most organizations, digital literacy can be broken down to:

  • Cybersecurity

  • Communication

  • Law and ethics

With cybersecurity, you will want to evaluate employees to determine where knowledge gaps could impact both long-term outcomes and the day-to-day running of the business. For law and ethics, you will want to consider how an employee's actions can cause risks, whether this applies to liability or damage to reputation. For communication, you will want to determine if your staff has the knowhow required for leveraging social media, digital tools, digital engagement and other key concepts within today's digital era.

Once you have a clear idea of your knowledge gaps, you will need to determine the best way to fill them. In some instances, this may mean more training. If the knowledge gap is especially large, however, the solution may be found in outsourcing certain digital responsibilities to a qualified third party. Still, in other instances, your evaluation might drive you to make one or two new hires or turn over a large portion of your entire staff. Whatever the case, it's important to systematically identify any potential knowledge gaps to see how they might lead to consequences and missed opportunities. Many business owners choose to bring in efficiency experts to help with this, especially if the owners have their own digital knowledge gaps.

Intelligent Office provides diverse solutions for small business owners. Contact us to learn more.