What is Digital Literacy? How do you Build it for Yourself or your Organization?

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What is digital fluency

Krista Neher

Oct 06 2020

LinkedIn recently data based on analyzing job posts that showed that Digital Literacy is one of the top 10 skills that employers are looking for.

This isn’t just for marketing. It is across all job postings. So what is digital literacy, why is it so important and how can you build it for your organization or team?

What is Digital Literacy?

Broadly, digital literacy is about being able to have conversations, conduct work and communicate in digital channels. It is about having an understanding of how relevant digital tools and technologies work and being able to use them.

For an organization it is important to have a common digital literacy so that everyone understands key terms and has the same fundamental understanding of key digital terms, technologies and tools.

Digital is growing in every way imaginable. Digital marketing makes up over 50% of marketing budgets. Social selling on LinkedIn is transforming how sales teams work. Digital tools are required for almost every job.

Since digital is still relatively new, most employees didn’t “grow up” with digital skills and fluency. My dad actually never learned to type and only learned how to use computers after retiring, despite being a Sr. Manager at a large organization.

The reality is that even younger employees may not have the digital savvy expected in the workplace. While they are digital natives and can easily use social media, they’ve likely never heard industry specific digital terms or used industry digital technologies.

Digital literacy for almost any industry or job function usually means:

  • Having the vocabulary to have digital conversations
  • Know key tools and technologies and how they work
  • Using digital technology in your job
  • Incorporating digital tools in how you do your work
  • Being able to learn new digital tools and technologies as relevant
  • Being able to talk to key stakeholders about digital

Why is Digital Literacy so Important?

Digital literacy is important because almost every organization is transitioning more towards digital. This means that employees all need to have a common understanding of digital and the impact that it has.

This may vary for different industries and different functions.

For example a sales professional may be expected to use a CRM like Salesforce and also be active on using LinkedIn for selling. It involves understanding key terms and common tools and technologies and being able to learn them, use them and have conversations about them.

For a marketing professional it means understanding Digital Marketing 101 and incorporating it into strategies.  It also means creating digital marketing plans, knowing key terms in the industry and being able to have conversations with stakeholders about digital marketing.

How do you Develop Digital Literacy in Your Organization?

Growing digital literacy in an organization requires a specific plan. Since most employers are looking for digital literacy, we know that it is a priority for businesses.

To improve the digital literacy of your organization:

  1. Determine what digital literacy means for your organization, industry and function. Determine the foundational knowledge required.
  2. Get leadership support to champion it in the organization.
  3. Create a level-set digital fluency training course to get everyone in the organization on the same page, speaking the same language.
  4. Measure the success of your training program and how digital is becoming embedded in the organization
  5. Create continuous learning opportunities and internal discussions about digital to embed it into your organization.

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