Before I start discussing digital literacy, the new means of communication, the benefits of using digital technologies to support your business, let me first tell you a quick story.
A Little Backstory
Back when I was in 12th grade, we received the visit of the Education Minister in my school (a public one), and he congratulated all of us for having made that far. You might be thinking ‘wait, 12th grade is no big deal’, but in the 3rd world countries, one the poorest in the world, that was still a Big deal.
He, went on and asked all of us: ‘Who amongst you is literate?’
We all replied with a resounding voice “We are.” Thinking to ourselves ‘what is he talking about? We are 12th-grade students; next step is University, and we’ll join the ranks of the intellectual academics of this country.’
Little did we know, that his question had a meaning and it was yet to be revealed to us. After our replies, he asked ‘how many of you can read today’s newspaper online?’ In a room, with close to 120 students, no more than 15 people were able to reply positively. ‘In the era that we are living in, and in the future, if you are not digitally literate then you are illiterate, having finished 12th grade should not make you complacent’ He added.
Nowadays, after more than 13 years, I find myself working alongside one of my colleagues from back then, I am an IT/Telecoms engineer, and he’s also an IT/Business Analyst in a major company. My generation was the first to become digitally literate in our teens in this country.
Being digitally literate has become a must for all of us, while I started using the internet in my teens, my two baby boys are now crying to use youtube on my wife’s or my smartphones. They are passionate about watching cartoons, and songs made for children.
Digital Literacy & Its Benefits to Your Business
Communication is an interactive process through which messages are passed back and forth between two or more people.
An effective communicator aims to transmit their message as they perceive it so that it is received clearly by other people. Excellent communication is judged by how closely the receiver’s understanding matches the sender’s intent.
I have shared in previous articles some tips on how to become an effective communicator, some business communication skills to help you share a fact, a feeling, or a thought.
The digital era has enabled us to communicate, learn, and share much more effectively and gave us a multitude of means to do so. All sorts of business, academia, government, and other institutions are now relying on digital technologies to manage data and information;
Digital literacy has now become much more than a luxury to those with enough means to acquire a computer and pay for internet fees; it has become an integral part of most of the world’s population. We use our smartphones to do pretty much everything now, from buying tickets to the cinema, calling taxis, paying for services, reading or watching the news to communicating to anyone, anywhere in the world.
Understanding digital literacy
Digital literacy, according to the ‘American Library Association’, is ”the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.”
Digital literacy is being accepted as one of the most valuable tools with the increased importance of technology all around the world. Being an effective communicator goes beyond merely passing the information along, and trying to summarize and repeat it; you must be versed in using the latest tools and pieces of technology that improve efficiency in delivering information as well as productivity.
Many organizations are improving their processes using digital technology and these latest tools. Digital literacy means that you understand the information when it is obtained in different formats and knowing how to use it in productive and secure ways. Understanding and learning how to use these tools ensures one is digitally literate.
How can you use digital technologies to benefit your Business?
The following are some of the ways you can use digital technology to provide versatility and efficiency in your business.
- You can use video marketing
- You can promote your business through online adverts and creating a website for it.
- You can choose software that will help you to share, update, and edit your marketing plan with your team.
- You can utilize the power of email marketing when you start to gather email addresses via the opt-in
- You can promote your products and services using social media platforms such as YouTube, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest among others.
- You can start creating blog posts with content related to your target audience and business.
- You can use a time-tracking software tool to be aware of where time is spent and by whom on your website. When you properly utilize such analysis, you will enjoy not only accountability but also productivity and process improvement.
- You can create digital filing where you will be able to easily find, share, save, and sort all your documents.
- Through digital dictation, you will be able to streamline your work processes.
- You will be able to develop a well-organized email management process that will make it easy for you to track and respond to messages accordingly.
- You will be able to use task management and project management tools that will help you know your daily business responsibilities.
- You can install software that will allow your clients to place appointments online at any time of the day or night.
- You can use social media platforms to carry out customer services.
- You can use online questionnaires and surveys to obtain customer feedback.
- You can set up an online ticket system or help desk that will handle customer concerns.
- Online live support (chat) for your customers will improve customer experience and perception of your brand
- You can use online budget tracking software to know and reduce your expenses.
- You can file your taxes online which is more efficient and saves you time to do other things.
- You can share digital files with your account or bookkeeper to enhance your bookkeeping process.
- You can use online invoicing service which will reduce the amount you spend on collecting payments from your customers.
- Through selling your products and services online, you will be able to create a new income stream.
- For you to replace some of the expensive “name brand” alternatives, you can explore open source applications that will help you out in that sector.
Telecommuting and mobile working
- You can use your smartphone to select apps that will synchronize with the cloud so that you can stay connected even when you are on the go.
- You can be able to create a mobile office that will allow you to productively work at any place as long as you can access the internet.
- You can decide to go paperless to save capital spent on storage for your supplies in your office.
- You can use a remote desktop application that will allow you to access files on the office computer.
- You can get electronic fax and phone number that you can use anywhere as long as you can access the internet.
Learning and collaboration
- You can empower your team and expand your knowledge through online business training.
- You can share data and files with the cloud.
- You can schedule and carry out teleconference calls to ensure that your teams from different areas are on the same page.
- You can use team messaging application to communicate faster and precisely with everyone in your team.
- It would be impossible to conduct a face-to-face meeting if you are traveling, but you can keep everyone in the loop through web conferences or webinars.
Influential leaders, those who build wildly successful businesses, have always been those with excellent communication and public speaking skills.
The traditional ways of conveying and receiving information are changing, and there is a generation gap that must be closed soon. If you intend to build and sustain a successful business, you need to become digitally literate.
Being digitally literate will allow you, as a leader to communicate your vision, strategy, and get timely feedback from your teams.
We are now witnessing the birth of a Digital Society, a group of people who were born in the digital era, who are strangers to most of the traditional communication means, and they are the ones who are going to be supporting the world’s economy. So, having a solid plan to navigate these changes in technology, the generation gap, and the opportunities and risks that are associated with them is a smart move.
Thanks for reading this far, I’d like to hear from you. What is your experience in dealing with the different means of communication and collaboration offered by the digital era?
Imra Berardi. Digital Skills and Digital Literacy: What’s the difference?. https://www.teachaway.com/blog/digital-skills-vs-digital-literacy-whats-difference . Accessed on 07/18/2019.
Mathew Lynch. What is Digital Literacy? https://www.thetechedvocate.org/what-is-digital-literacy/. Accessed on 07/18/2019.