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Defending Against Disruption: Why Business Leaders Must Be Digitally Literate

If you are a business leader, there is one term you should be obsessed with: exponential growth. Technology is screeching upward with rocket-like intensity, and unprepared organizations will be left behind.

Technology is a little bit like King Midas; everything it touches is transformed. However, it isn’t always possible to predict the next wave of innovation. Decision-makers who are technology savvy and digitally aware have a better chance of rising with the trend, rather than being swamped by it.

In fact, the most competent companies in the world should be the most worried about digital disruption. Often, these organizations have established systems and processes that they are reluctant to change with disruptive technologies, even when the business benefits could be significant. While these leaders believe they are doing what’s best for their companies, they are inadvertently the source of organization wide failure when faced with digital disruption. This means that leadership should not only be aware of the latest digital transformations, but also be prepared to embrace them before it may be obvious to do so.

You understand the importance of being digitally literate, but now what? There are many ways in which leaders can educate themselves in order to become digitally literate. Start by surfing the media. The media – whether social media, the internet, or even the newspaper – is a consistent and up to date source. As a Founder and CTO myself, I am very familiar with the difficulties of making time among the many other tasks that require my attention throughout the day. That being said, I understand the importance of keeping myself updated and aim to read a minimum of two articles per day. Social media is a great tool to help find these articles. Follow some business or technology visionaries and scroll through your feed whenever you find yourself with a spare minute during the day. You will be surprised how much you learn without having to carve out time to do so.

Second, do some research. When a new technology catches your eye investigate it further. Think of the standard questions - Who, What, Where, When, Why. Who could use this technology in my organization? What would they use this technology for? Where can this technology be used – across the organization or individual departments? When does it make sense to roll out a new technology – now or wait until it is more proven or tested? Why does this technology make sense for my organization?

Lastly, be open to new technologies. While some new tech may seem farfetched, try and think; how can I use this in my organization and what would it look like? This does not mean you have to jump in head first with an enterprise wide installation, begin with a pilot. Approaching technology with an open mind can reap great benefits, and is sure to surprise you in the long run.

Yes, it is true that not every new software or hardware device that comes along will be the game changer. But, as a business leader, it is important that you are unafraid to experiment with the latest and greatest to see if the upside really exists. Especially if that upside involves digital communications and attracting more customers.