How Can CIOs Prepare Their Workers For Tomorrow?

CIOs need to take steps to improve worker's digital literacy
CIOs need to take steps to improve worker’s digital literacy
Image Credit: ladislau.girona

As a CIO you are facing a number of different, difficult challenges. They are all important; however, one may be more important than all of the others: finding and keeping qualified technical people. The problem is that right now in the U.S. there are roughly 500,000 open IT positions. Just to make things even worse, this number is expected to grow at twice the rate as other jobs in the U.S. according to Bureau of Labor Statistics growth projections. What CIOs need to understand is that there is not enough supply to meet an increasing demand for technical talent. How can CIOs deal with this problem?

How Can CIOs Improve Digital Literacy?

If we can all agree that CIOs are facing a severe shortage of the talent that they need in order to keep their IT departments going, then the big question is why do we find ourselves in this situation? One reason might be that traditional higher-education curricula and programs are still based on traditional approaches to learning, rather than transitioning and promoting digital literacy across the entire curriculum. What this means is that what students are learning in school does not necessarily align with the realities of today’s digital world. Yes, students use their devices every day and are comfortable using the technology. However, they are not totally prepared when they leave a college or university and walk out into today’s workplace because of the lack of digital literacy in most current education programs.

So how are CIOs going to fix this problem? The solution to this issue is not to introduce more digital devices and technical training into the classroom to get faculty and students to start to think more digitally about what they are doing. Rather, what CIOs need to do is to improve students overall digital literacy or ability to live, work, think and communicate in a society that is driven by the internet, social media, mobile devices and other digital technologies. What CIOs want to do is to change the education and learning formula to be more closely aligned with the demands of today’s digital world.

The goal of these changes has to be to teach everyone to think more visually and digitally in terms of the tools that can be used to produce content. If we can do this then graduates will be more attractive to businesses who are more likely to hire someone who is more creative, has a variety of presentation skills, and more effective in what they can bring to the table from a learning management standpoint. Studies have shown that the greatest source of competitive advantage for over 30% of organizations will come from the workforce’s ability to creatively exploit digital technologies.

What Is The Next Step For CIOs?

CIOs who realize that they have an obligation to create a workforce that has the ability to think digitally know that they need to move forward and start to create and deliver digital products. To do this CIOs need to plan to give everyone a basic understanding and capability to develop applications by making coding a core part of the digital literacy framework. This does not mean workers need to take a deep dive into data analytics, but rather they need to develop an understanding at that top layer of how to access and bring data together to make it meaningful and express themselves differently.

When CIOs are creating programs that will help their workers become more digitally literate, they need to establish a set of goals. These can include establishing partnerships with organizations to help guide the further development and evolution of their program. This means to work with companies and individuals as stakeholder representatives. CIOs should also expand the scope and objectives of the digital literacy program from its initial core and think creatively to better prepare individuals to weather the shift in the workforce driven by such emerging technologies as artificial and cognitive intelligence.

Workers need to understand that they are at risk of losing their job if it is utility-based and they can’t cross that bridge and deal with dynamic changing environments. Being digitally literate can prepare them for opportunities that were previously not there. While workers are becoming more digitally literate, CIOs can also promote and teach the basics of data analytics and its potential and pair that with discussions on corporate ethics. You could have that kind of literacy conversation you never thought possible before, and what worker would not be engaged in that without even realizing they’re becoming more digitally literate at the same time?

What All Of This Means For You

The key thing to remember is that it’s not about the technology. Technology can support and drive creativity and innovation. However, it’s really about encouraging and motivating people, changing the culture, achieving buy-in from IT and the management, and building effective teams. These are all of those things that everybody told us from a leadership perspective we should be doing but many CIOs just haven’t done. While it’s very simplistic in nature, it does take hard work to make it happen. It’s also worthwhile, because if CIOs don’t move in this direction then the risk is that you and everyone else you engage with may eventually become irrelevant.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How do you think that a CIO can measure if their workforce has become digitally literate?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Modern CIOs need to understand that Business intelligence (BI) leverages software and services to transform data into actionable insights that inform an company’s strategic and tactical business decisions. These BI tools access and analyze data sets and present analytical findings in reports, summaries, dashboards, graphs, charts and maps designed to provide users with detailed intelligence about the state of the business. In IT the term business intelligence often also refers to a range of tools that provide quick, easy-to-digest access to insights about an organization’s current state, based on available data. The challenge that CIOs are facing is how best to make use of these new tools?