I have long believed that Digital Education must become a staple of a company’s Permanent Education (i.e. with the internal, corporate University). It can no longer be just a “specialty” class, merely for IT, geeks or those working on the website. My strong belief is that there should be a coterie of courses that are destined to help each level and each department ramp up. Sure, brand marketers and digital marketing need to keep up with the Joneses, but everyone is concerned by the web: HR, sales, customer service, product development, IT, assistants… No one in a ‘modern’ organization today can not gain in productivity and/or effectiveness, learning some new tools and tricks. Digital education is not just about implementing a social media guideline or learning how to start a Facebook page. It should encompass basics such as how to improve digital communications (ie. emailing, sms, FB messages…) and how to use the web to search better, all the way up to how to learn, network and interact.
What should Digital Education entail?
I break it down into 3 general parts.
Figuring out what is out there. Understanding the numbers, what tools, media and examples exist. Since the world of the internet moves with lightening speed, it is a good idea to make sure everyone is at the same level.
Learning why and how to use the tools. Whether for scouting, broadcasting, engaging or measuring, there are ways and means that need to be understood. The most important part of this section is learning the culture (i.e. mindset and attitude) of the web. Hopefully, this is more about teach to fish, rather than bringing the fish. Naturally, this would be broken down into subcategories, depending on the size, ambition and nature of the business.
Digital Strategy. More operational and of a higher calibre, this “education” is more about figuring out what is the right digital path to take. In light of all the choices, here it is all about aligning your digital strategy with your overall objectives.
Digital Education – Learning the state of mind
Senior management need to understand that digital is here to stay and that, contrary to “popular” opinion, it will become as noble as the book in the eyes of the younger generations. Members of the C-suite will need to get comfortable talking in SMS short-hand, emoticons and newly formed geeky acronyms. Raising a company’s digital IQ level could become, especially for some companies, the make-or-break line in terms of recruitment, on the one hand, and in terms of business development on the other.
Senior management needs to gain the digital mindset
Most external training campuses provide some form of digital training. Bringing in an external consultant / trainer is, in most cases, a decent solution. There are, as it is, few well-rounded, pedagogical geeks out there to do the training, much less residing within the organization. Bringing the teams — including senior managers — up to snuff on these digital platforms and methodologies as well as the “digital mindset” is vital to make the move to digital successful.
GQ: It's a fashion statement too
Going one step further, though, is to consider the Geek Quotient of an enterprise. At the first level, this means looking at how many people in your team are comfortable posting on Facebook, tweeting in the name of the company, are blog friendly? But, I believe that in the nearer future, this Geek Quotient means hiring individuals who are comfortable writing in HTML or XML, reading CSS and are not afraid to plunge into the admin space of a blog.
1% of everyone
I tend to believe that having just one geek in a company is a similar sin to having just one community manager. Just as has been said in the past, it is far better to have everyone in the company be 1% community manager than to rely on one individual to be 100% in charge of your community. Similarly, I believe that it is better to have everyone be a little comfortable with the geeky underworld of blogs and Facebook Insights, than to rely 100% on one individual to scurry around, firefighting for each person’s bugs. Among other things, raising a company’s geek quotient could involve making sure that the IT department is involved in your strategic meetings. Companies that hire the quintessential geek must learn to allow that individual to flourish within the corporate environment… and that too takes raising the company’s overall geek quotient.
Notably, raising the geek quotient is surely a preliminary requirement for any company wishing to successfully deploy an enterprise social network internally. Otherwise, it is bound to miss any potential advantage this kind of tool can provide, such as restoring a link between employees where the usage of automated business solutions like ERPs has somehow broken the dialogue between different business units or departments.
This digital revolution might be particularly challenging for old-established firms, in which there is a generation gap between senior management and new recruits. As you mentioned in another article, making it fun and using games can probably help in getting everyone engaged.
Companies also have to fight against the clichés about IT savvy staff that prevent the latter from getting higher responsibilities, but that of course is difficult since no-one wants his colleagues to take his place! As Vivek Sehgal wrote in his book 'Supply Chain as Strategic Asset', the firms should seek to hire people who have a background both in IT and in another business function.
The '1% of everyone' motto equally sounds like a good idea to make the digital transition smoother.