I spend a lot of time collaborating with clients and I continue to hear a common concern: They are struggling to build the digital skills needed to innovate and compete today. This complaint was so strong that we decided to explore the data and examine digital fluency within businesses. We looked at 5,400 workers across industries and across the world to understand the workforce’s technology quotient (TQ), digital operations, digital foundations, and digital leadership and culture. The results were quite revealing. Our 2020 Accenture Global Digital Fluency Study found that just 14% of companies are digitally “mature.”

This lack of digital maturity, and in turn, digital fluency not only affects an organization’s level of competitiveness in our digital world, but it also affects the bottom line. We found that digitally fluent organizations are 5x more likely to be projecting high revenue growth (over 20%) in the next three years. They also are more innovative and operationally efficient.

One of the reasons for the low percentages of digital fluency is that few businesses have a codified program for enabling digital fluency across the organization. Creating a transformative program to foster digital skills and fluency is good for business, but it’s also good for your workers. Let’s talk a bit about why it matters.

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Developing digital fluency is a never finished task. It should be an ongoing journey that entices workers to anticipate what’s around the corner.

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When workers level up, the business levels up

When COVID-19 catapulted all of us further into the digital sphere, it revealed that many people had room to grow their digital skills. And on the positive side, the pandemic also has inspired people to think differently about how they engage with technology and digital for collaboration or to simply do their jobs better. But what are leaders doing to help?

Businesses must create the pathways to allow people to enhance their technology skills. Leaders also must educate workers about what’s possible. People are hungry to strengthen their foundation of skills. Developing new adjacent skills might make someone’s day-to-day work easier, but it also opens up opportunities for career mobility.

Take for instance a customer care representative. It’s a role that typically has high attrition because it can be monotonous. Imagine equipping that rep with a set of new skills that include artificial intelligence and analytics. Rather than simply fielding calls, that person would learn how to create experiences, upselling the company’s products and services based on customer data. The customer care rep then levels up to an experience designer. They, in turn, become more energized and inspired in their role, and the company benefits from the enhanced service this person is providing.

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It’s a journey, not a “job”

At what point in your life did you stop learning? Was it February 10, 2017? My guess is that you haven’t stopped. Learning is ongoing—there is no end point. As such, developing digital fluency is never a task that is finished. It should be an ongoing journey that entices workers to anticipate what’s around the corner.

Think about popular social media sites today such as Instagram and TikTok. They draw the audience into the experience because users want to know, “What will I see in the next swipe? What experience might I have?” The right skill development program will have that same pull. By sharing a continuous flow of relevant, interesting and useful content and learning opportunities, workers might imagine, “I wonder what’s happening with cloud. How can I apply AI to real-life problems to create ways to harness technology in ways that lower my workload?”

At Accenture, we have created a program to foster digital fluency in our own organization. We focused on many key skill areas to strengthen digital fluency. These range from blockchain to data to cloud computing. Our content is episodic, with each bunch of content covering the topic enough to build true awareness and understanding. There is always something new to explore or content that allows the user to go deeper on the topics already published.

By fortifying workers with this new foundation of digital skills, we are finding that we as an organization can leave our employees what we call “Net Better Off.” Workers are increasingly looking to their employers to help meet their individual needs (physical, financial, employable, emotional/mental). Equipping workers with new skills and the right adjacent skillsets enables them the power to transition into higher paying jobs and explore new roles and industries.

Start skilling

Digital fluency is more important than ever, and our data shows a tremendous gap in most companies’ workforces. When you make building digital fluency a priority among your workforce and developing a strong program for fostering digital skills, you will elevate your organizations’ capabilities across digital technologies and emerge stronger during these volatile times.

See more Workforce insights.

David Shaw

Senior Managing Director – Talent & Organization, HR Transformation & Delivery Co-lead, UKG Lead

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