The Digital Literacy Challenge
This is the first in a series of articles looking at the digital literacy challenge that companies face, especially as for the first time, the workforce may be made up of 5 different generations.
According to Wikipedia:
Digital literacy refers to an individual's ability to find, evaluate, and compose clear information through writing and other mediums on various digital platforms.
The challenge to find information
The amount of information created by companies is growing at an exponential rate and the type of information is changing, from structured documents to unstructured videos and images. Technology has recently moved into its top gear to help address the situation, let’s look at how the storage and retrieval of information has changed since the introduction of the computer.
Stage 1 - Silo
Individual’s saved documents on their desktop as tiny icons; easy to find by the owner of the desktop, but no one else could see them.
Stage 2 - Filing Cabinet
Documents now stored in a labyrinth of folders on a shared drive. Improves sharing and collaboration, except as the folder structures grow and evolve in an uncontrolled manner no one can ever find anything having spent hours clicking and navigating up and down the structure.
Stage 3 - Search
New kid on the block. Why file or organise anything; just “search”. After all that is what you do on the internet.
Stage 4 - Discovery
Search only works if you know what you are looking for, but what about the “unknown unknowns” to quote Donald Rumsfeld – what about the documents your colleagues in other departments and companies create that could be really useful to you except you are not are of their existence - welcome to the world of Artificial Intelligence which discovers and presents information to you that it believes may be of interest.
Most workers are still at Stages 1 and 2
Even after the company migrates to a new collaborative information-centric cloud world, the first thing your staff ask is: "give us back our folders".
Change for one thing – people need to be helped through change. But surely search is natural and therefore not a change – maybe not.
Ask people of their experience with Google and most will say 90% of the results are irrelevant and a waste of time. People need to be taught how to search effectively and how to filter the results.
But the company needs to help here too. If existing information is migrated on mass from legacy folder structures to the new world then search will be handicapped. How much of the legacy information consists of duplicated documents or the dreaded versioning of a legacy document (draft, draft Jan 1986, draft Jan 1986(A), Final Feb 1986, Final(reworked) Mar 1986, etc). The wrong search term and all of these documents will be surfaced, driving the user mad.
However, clean up your information, teach your workforce how to use the tools, and the return on investment will be huge.
The modern workplace requires digital literacy
We know Stage 2 no longer works, there is just too much information created and especially too much unstructured information. Companies also need to think about the impending skill gaps amongst their workforce. Soon Generation Z will be entering the workforce. They will embrace and go straight to Stage 3 and 4, having never created a folder in their lives.
How will you integrate your Stage 3 and 4 users with those stuck at Stage 1 and 2?