Over one year has passed since we first heard of covid-19. Since then, nothing has been the same; one sector most affected is the business sector. The pandemic has led to businesses having to close down and those still running had to find ways to survive the pandemic’s effects. This forced a quick implementation of digital transformation or at the very least a transition to activities that are more digital in nature or that can be held/done remotely.
In this era, it is hardly possible for people to go around without using digital media of some sort at any given moment. After all, we all have a digital medium in the palm of our hand at all times, so we’re all “digitally competent”, right? Well, not so much! What is surprising is the way businesses have become slow in doing digital transformation. Only after the effects of covid-19 did businesses see the importance of having and implementing digital strategies not only in their marketing (the “natural home” for digital activities until now), but also in their business development, sales and even manufacturing. When properly implemented, companies can still be profitable even after reducing their staff; having them work from home, and even changing the methods they operate their businesses.
Many businesses failed even after trying to get their business to adapt to the digital world without proper planning. The pandemic led to most companies panicking, and as a way of trying to stay afloat, they went about the digital transformation the wrong way. In as much as it is vital to implement the digital transformation, you need to note that this is not easy, and if you do not handle it properly, it might lead to your business failing. For that reason, before implementing any digital strategy, it is essential to understand it. Here enters the importance of digital literacy.
What Is Digital Literacy?
Before looking at the importance of digital literacy, it is essential to understand what it entails. Digital literacy refers to working in a digital environment where communication and access to information are done through digital technologies and tools. One of the backbones of the digital world, especially when it comes to businesses, is communication, but not only.
Digital communication needs to be clear, relevant, and respectful as it represents the business. Thus, business managers need to have practical skills to help them access, manage, manipulate, and create information in a way that is both ethical and sustainable. However, this is not something you learn in a day as it is a continuous learning process, since technology and apps are always advancing and getting new updates.
But digital literacy is not all about communication, as we said above. Within a digital transformation process, you must make yourself literate in digital tools that apply to business development, sales, manufacturing (and no, it is not just about AI and robotics, there are many tools, most rather simple and straightforward to help you manage production and logistics better if you have a retail business, for example).
So, how do you go about building up your digital literacy and what are its main benefits?
First, come Up With a Strategy That Fits Your Business
When you take the time to understand the digital world, you will have an easier time transforming your business. You will be equipped with the knowledge to help you know what works for your company and what doesn’t. Without the knowledge, you might end up investing in the wrong strategy overall or at the very least in the wrong platforms or tools, which might lead to you losing a tremendous amount of money and time, and in the worst-case scenario, you might even be forced to close your business. Yes, this is not overestimating. Digital transformation done wrong can break a business and we have sadly seen this happen more than once in the past.
Second, avoid Steep Change Curve
The world is becoming more and more digital whether we like it or not, and the pandemic has made this process take place faster than expected. As a result, organizations are experiencing rapid changes. If your business does not keep up with the technology, the chances are that the average learning curve will surpass your business. Digitally literate managers can better control change management processes and ensure their business keeps up with the trends. The more literate you are, the lower the learning and change curves are when new tools are introduced and the faster you can make decisions and adapt if needed.
Why You Need To Consult with Digital Transformation Experts
Though it is essential for business owners and C-Suite executives to learn about the digital world and become digitally literate, you might not transform your organization’s needs without consulting digital transformation experts. As we mentioned above, the process of digital transformation, when done right, is not an easy or quick one. It requires proper strategy and research before anything else, to select not only the tools but also to prioritize the steps and areas of your business to be transformed. Literate as you may become in the digital tools and strategies, it doesn’t compare to people whose core expertise and business are these things. It is also unfair and not feasible to ask you, as a manager or owner to become a digital strategist when, in fact, what you should be doing is your job of managing your business. In other words, you hold the expertise on your business and products, while others hold the expertise on the digital aspect of things. The purpose of hiring digital transformation consultants is to help you keep up with the global world’s technology changes. You may opt for an in-house expert if your business calls for it, but in most cases, bringing in an external consultant to strategize, plan, prioritize and kick-start the process, is the right way to go.
Acquire More Skills
Since the digital playground is extensive and always changing, you need to ensure that you have someone trained and skilled to understand and manage the digital tools and teams. If you choose to outsource your digital activities and you select a proper digital firm, they will help you deal with the digital strategies to ensure that you consider all aspects. Since, as we already said, you are not expected to become a digital expert yourself, you need to make sure the consultants or firm you hire are multidisciplinary, thus allowing you to harness more skills for the benefit of your business. An example of such firm would be one that has various consultants experts in marketing, IT, sales, global business development and more. Granted, most of these companies will be the industry giants, but not all. You can still find smaller boutique firms or family businesses that can easily become your best companions.
Get the Right Digital Tools
The other reason you need to consult the professionals is to ensure you get the appropriate and the best tools for your business transformation. Some tools are costly and will require you to subscribe regularly, some may be free to use. Some you may absolutely need and others might just be “nice to have”. Since you might need various tools to function, it is best to have a knowledgeable professional who will come equipped to help you choose and implement the right tools for the right job. Often digital consultancy firms have their own group subscriptions or can get you discounted accounts thus saving you money in the long run.
If you have read this far you surely understand that while you have to boost your digital literacy so you can understand what’s going on, you also cannot go about the process of digital transformation alone. In fact, make yourself literate so you can choose the right people to set out on this journey with you.