Article

Tech fluency matters: Driving tech fluency at scale

November 22, 2022

Innovative technologies don’t build and run themselves—people do. As the ongoing workforce and skills crisis continues to impact top-priority business goals, maximizing investments in talent and technology is essential.

In other words, you need to drive tech fluency. 

On day one of our recent Navigate event, Simon Allardice, Pluralsight Creative Director and Principal Author, hosted the breakout session, “Driving tech fluency at scale." Together with the panelists, he discussed why tech fluency matters and how to drive tech literacy programs across organizations. 

The panelists included:

  • Dan Braunm, Head of Global Advisory Learning & Development at KPMG
  • Will Clive, Chief People Officer at Pluralsight
  • Sarah Ley, Head of Digital and Tech Practice at Johnson & Johnson
  • Jenn Silberman, Senior Manager of Technical Education at VMware

Tech fluency matters

Tech fluency is vital for employees, clients, and users, regardless of industry. “Every company is a software company,” said Jenn.

Across the landscape, even basic technological literacy unlocks better collaboration and drives increased organizational performance. When leaders equip employees with the tools they need to build tech fluency, they’re steering their organization towards future success. 

Non-technical and technical roles benefit from tech fluency

Non-technologists, like auditors and recruiters, often wonder how the meetings they sit in on are relevant to them. They may not understand how essential tech and data concepts relate to their responsibilities. This knowledge gap limits their ability to interact and innovate at work. 

Even technology workers like software developers need to increase the breadth of their technical skills. Doing so helps them gain insight on how teams and processes are interconnected. “Tech fluency is a tremendous thing we must build across,” said Dan.

Tech fluency leads to diversity and innovation

Understanding how a lack of tech fluency can inhibit workers helps us understand why we need to roll out programs that provide basic technology knowledge.

With proper training, anyone can hold a technical role, regardless of their background or prior experience. But to perform well, they need technology literacy to actively participate in meetings, work with stakeholders, and engage with customers. 

Tech fluency programs empower underrepresented communities to enter the tech industry. And companies that bring in these groups bring in diverse perspectives and cultivate greater innovation. “There is magic in diversity. Diversity drives innovation, collaboration, and perspective,” said Jenn.

How to convince leaders that tech fluency matters

Internal programs and initiatives are often unsuccessful without buy-in from an organization’s executives. To include tech fluency as an integral business process, get executive buy-in from the beginning.

Show executives how increasing tech fluency within the company will help the bottom line. Then, set key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine the success of your business transformation and hold leaders accountable.

“Find opportunities to measure accountability while getting leadership involved, and [try not to reinvent] the wheel,” said Sarah.

Identifying the need for tech fluency

Dan then shared how he got executive buy-in to roll out a tech fluency program at KPMG. He noticed that the specialists he worked with were highly skilled in their area of expertise but more hesitant when working outside that parameter. That hesitancy led to a disconnect between teams. He wanted to find a way to equip everyone with basic tech knowledge so they were all on the same page. 

For example, content marketers often write blog posts, emails, and landing pages for existing customers and potential leads. If a company’s product is highly technical, the content team must understand it to convey its benefits and features to the target market. Helping content marketers become more tech literate allows them to tell a more powerful story. In turn, the company can generate more leads, customers, and overall success.

Starting a tech fluency transformation

Will shared that his team is rolling out a tech fluency program starting with one topic: the cloud. By starting small, everyone at the company could achieve the goal. 

When deciding where to start on your organization’s tech fluency journey, think of a few topics that would benefit everyone. At Pluralsight, knowledge of the cloud has helped non-technical departments like recruiting and finance.  Their deeper understanding of the cloud has helped them recruit stronger candidates. 

Though establishing and tracking KPIs among large groups can be tricky, tools like Skill IQ from Pluralsight Skills can be a huge help. Skill IQ is an assessment tool that helps companies identify employee knowledge gaps. Based on the results, organizations can build a learning path to develop those necessary skills without compromising efficiency.

Tips for driving digital literacy

Rolling out significant initiatives such as tech literacy can seem daunting. Organization-wide programs involve many moving parts to ensure they bring value to the individual and the organization as a whole. 

After all, without employee and leadership engagement, the program won’t succeed. Panelists shared how they get buy-in across the organization and measure success.

Marketing a tech fluency transformation

First, Sarah emphasized that willful adoption often requires a “pull, don’t push” approach. Portray the initiative as something employees don’t want to miss out on. Make it attractive. If digital transformation is part of the company’s core messaging, it becomes an organizational priority. The value of digital literacy can sell itself pretty well if the company believes and practices it. 

There are some ways to market the program internally to increase adoption. The messaging should be pervasive when the company stands behind an initiative. Constantly leverage every means of communication to push out these learning opportunities. “It would be odd to be working at Pluralsight and not know what’s going on. We’re talking about it on every level, from all-hands meetings to Slack channels,” Will said.

Creating an organized plan for tech fluency

Another way to increase adoption is to create an easy-to-follow organized structure. Study groups and schedules help keep people on track and focused on the learning initiative. 

One concern, of course, is time. How can leaders carve out time for employees to learn without sacrificing productivity? Instead of asking people to complete a two-hour training, have them focus on a series of 15-minute topics instead. By dividing it into smaller chunks, the material is more easily digestible and applicable.

Using data to show why tech fluency matters

Finding a way to show that tech fluency matters is also important. Jenn shared that in addition to the data that shows the success of VMware’s tech literacy program, she likes to analyze the opportunities it created. 

“I can talk about the number of people who have gone through these reskilling and upskilling programs,” she said. “But what's really important for me, my team, and my leadership is showing the opportunities that were created.” 

Last but not least, panelists advised having grace for yourself when setting out with such a big goal. Driving digital literacy across an organization will be a long journey. Embrace it. Start early; start now. Build a strong team of partners you can lead with, then host pre-mortems to discuss potential obstacles and milestones. Most importantly, celebrate the wins.

Final reflections on why tech fluency matters

Tech literacy programs can create new opportunities for people. Having a baseline of digital literacy empowers individuals to be more innovative, which, in turn, benefits the company. 

Rolling out tech fluency programs across an organization can seem daunting—take it step by step. Explain why tech fluency matters. Get leadership buy-in early to help drive accountability, engagement, and adoption. Use a tool like Skill IQ to better understand skills gaps among teams. Build out curated content and learning paths and encourage adoption at all levels. 

Remember: The best time to start driving tech fluency at scale is now. With patience, motivation, and buy-in, a tech fluency program will propel your employees and your business forward.

Put your organization on the path to tech fluency with Tech Foundations.