What is digital literacy? Benchmarking digital capability

By Richard Burns on 04-Feb-2016 16:06:38

To guage the level of digital understanding at a company, first it is critical to define what digital literacy is.

Digital literacy varies across entire organisations, and needs to keep pace with the fast-paced evolution of digital in general. As such, digital literacy needs continual enhancement, rather than existing as a static body of knowledge.

What is digital literacy?

Three questions within our survey query whether a specific skill is prevalent at organisations, each used as an example to represent wider digital literacy. The ADBL Digiskills Report found that while ability is common for digital skills that have been needed by organisations for a decade or more, basic skills that are needed today are far less common within organisations.

The ability to hold a basic conversation about coding is almost five times rarer than being able to use basic data manipulation software, for example.

In short, the majority of organisations are not keeping pace with the speed of digital evolution. Employee skill-sets that were an asset to organisations a decade ago are now a minimum requirement to carry out roles effectively, while it’s fast becoming essential for employees to understand coding and cyber security in order to stay competitive and keep both organisation and customer secure.


 

Data manipulation software

representative of basic digital capability a decade ago

Basic digital capability a decade ago: Being able to use data manipulation software

57.8%

can use basic data manipulation software

While the majority of respondents believe that everyone in their organisation can use basic data manipulation software, it is questionable whether being able to use tools like MS Excel qualifies as being digitally capable today. As such, this result is best used to gauge basic digital literacy at respondents’ organisations.

 

Understanding coding

representative of today's basic digital capabilities

Basic digital capability today: Understanding coding

12.2%

can hold a basic conversation about what coding is

Considering the widespread use of coded products and services within business today, a basic understanding of what it entails can be a strong gauge for digital capability. It’s a useful trait for almost any organisation, and almost any role. But just 12% of respondents felt everyone in their organisation would be able to hold a basic conversation about what coding is.

 

Cyber security knowledge

representative of today's basic digital capabilities

Basic digital capability today: Knowledge of cyber security

21.7%

can hold a conversation about basic cyber security risks

Less than a quarter of respondents thought everyone in their organisation has the knowledge to discuss basic cyber security – a knowledge that could, at its very basic consist of understanding the need for using complicated passwords. Worth noting is that our survey was held during increased publicity of the associated risks; coverage that could have both increased respondent awareness of the issue, and serve as motivation for organisations to develop this skill-set further.


 

To build these skill-sets, organisations have only one option other than a costly process of rehiring: train existing talent through learning and development (L&D).

But 36% of respondents disagree that their L&D function has an understanding of the range of digital skills existing employees may need to develop.

Our learning and development function has an understanding of the range of digital skills that existing employees may need to develop

For these organisations, ensuring L&D has this understanding could be a huge advantage: in the report, organisations where L&D did understand the digital skills needed are more likely to be digitally capable throughout.

This is true for digital capabilities that have been needed for some time, such as being able to use data manipulation software, through to more modern requirements, the ability to discuss coding and cyber security for example.

Everyone in the organisation can use basic data manipulation software to capture, analyse and present data in a simple way

Senior leadership setting a clear digital vision also has a beneficial correlation to wider organisational digital literacy.

In our survey, when a clear digital vision has been set by an organisation’s top leadership, 73% of organisations are able to use basic data manipulation software throughout. Compare this to the 12% of organisations where a clear digital vision has been set by top leadership, but not everyone in the organisation possesses the three digital skills referred to in this report, as shown in the data below.

A clear digital vision has been set and communicated by our top leadership

A benchmarking, industry-wide report on digital capability, the ADBL Digiskills Report surveyed 263 executives to offer a snapshot of the current state of organisations seeking to become more digitally capable. Claim your complimentary copy of the report.

Claim your copy of the report

 

 

Topics: People and Talent, Mindset and Culture, Operations and Process, Disruption, Leadership, Digital Transformation, News, New Ways of Working

Richard Burns

Written by Richard Burns

Richard is an experienced writer and content creator in the executive education space, having contributed to a wide range of international publications including Businessweek, Times of India, and many more.

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