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The importance of tech fluency

Updated on December 8, 2022 | Read time ~5 mins

In the past, leaders believed that technology initiatives only impacted their technology orgs. Business counterparts like marketing or revenue had little to no reason to think about “technology-driven initiatives."

However, with over 52% of companies in the Fortune 500 going bankrupt, being acquired, or completely going under since 2000 as a result of the digital disruption, leaders’ mindsets are shifting to include counterparts in tech-driven conversations. Enter tech fluency. 

What is tech fluency?

Tech fluency is not about building a specific skill. Instead, it’s about educating  the entire workforce on why a technology matters to the business, how it’s applied, and how it works with other technologies. With a tech-fluent workforce, individuals can experience a shared understanding of key technologies across the business and lean in where it matters most. 

With the fast pace of technology, companies have been racing to digitally transform their organization—but they often don’t include tech fluency, leaving big parts of their workforce behind. 

Why is tech fluency important?

Technology is now an integral part of every employee's day-to-day, and cross-functional communication is increasing more than ever. Engineers are asking for a clearer understanding of data so they can better work with their data analyst counterparts to extract valuable information, consultants are asking for a high-level understanding of big technology ideas (such as cloud, AI, ML) so they can have deeper conversations with their customers, and employees in “non-technical” roles are asking for opportunities for career development, hoping to eventually move into a technical role within the company. 

This shift will provide many employees with an opportunity to be included in tech-driven conversations for their first time. Because of this, they may be unsure how to speak the language of technology and, ultimately, provide value to the conversation. Which is why creating a tech-fluent workforce is a key ingredient of any company’s digital transformation. Without tech fluency, organizations risk knowledge silos slowing their pace of innovation, causing them to fall behind the competition.

Technologists and their business counterparts need a clear understanding of the top technologies being used across the business so they can remove barriers created by knowledge silos, have clearer conversations with better results, and contribute to the business’ success on a new level. 

“Digitally fluent companies are…

  • 2.7x more likely to have experienced high revenue growth (over 20%) over the past three years

  • 5.4x more likely to still be projecting high revenue growth in the next three years

  • 69% are considered a great place to work by their workers

  • 68% lead their peers in customer satisfaction

  • 62% lead their peers in innovation

  • 61% lead their peers in operational efficiency” 

- Accenture’s 2020 Digital Fluency Study

A programmatic approach to tech fluency

In order to be successful at creating a tech-fluent workforce, your organization needs to provide employees with an end-to-end, scalable program with engaging content that’s applicable to a wide variety of roles. Sounds like an easy task, right?

Organizations that realize they need to create a shared tech literacy are lost on what tools they need to execute, resulting in disconnection and wasted time. These orgs are seeing that digital transformation offerings are too vague and end up leaving the learner lost in a sea of content.  And home-grown content is difficult to create and not scalable. 

Build technology literacy into your business strategy

Organizations that are doing this well are building tech fluency into their business strategy—not executing it as a separate initiative. They're creating a tech fluency program. For example, on Accenture’s path to creating a tech-fluent workforce, they identified their business goals, mapped those goals to their technology needs, determined what skills and knowledge their teams had, and then provided employees with the tools and content they needed to grow. 

Find a tech literacy champion

Since tech fluency is relevant to the entire workforce, your entire leadership team should be engaged. Accenture’s CEO, Julie Sweet, is a champion of their tech fluency program and actively engages leaders and individuals across the business by creating a company culture that learns together. Sweet will often share what they’re learning and why and how it fuels their business, enabling transformation and innovation.

Promote individuals who promote tech fluency

Next, you’ll want to find a tool that helps your learners feel supported. According to IDC, the top elements leaders should take into consideration when choosing a tool are convenience, quality of instructors, and content quality. Other elements to consider when aiming to provide a positive learning experience include personalized content recommendations and the ability for learners to check their knowledge on a topic and assess out of topics they already know. Courses should focus on the what, why, and how of tech topics, providing learners with the knowledge they need, without getting too technical. 

Drive adoption across your workforce

Your tech fluency initiatives should be positioned as an opportunity to grow and collaborate with team members. Engage your entire workforce in learning challenges, allow for dedicated learning time, or provide them with a chance to collaborate with their colleagues on a project where they can practice their learnings. The best way to drive adoption of tech fluency isn’t through force, it’s through fun. 

Help leaders measure the progress of your tech fluency initiative

Last but not least, you need a way to measure progress toward your goals and help leaders understand where their teams are at. This will allow you to recognize top learners at your organization, increase engagement, and communicate your outcomes back to the business.

Tech fluency is a crucial component of digital transformation. A workforce that’s capable of applying tech concepts to the business can remove barriers, have clearer conversations with better results, and contribute to the business’ success on a whole new level. 

Pluralsight creates a shared literacy that removes barriers, paves the way for cross-functional dialogue, increases collaboration, and accelerates everything with any touchpoint to technology.