The Digital Revolution

Over the last 20 or so years, we’ve witnessed the acceleration of digital technologies with breathtaking speed. Communications tools are changing the way we work. Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is automating many routine (and not-so-routine) tasks and altering the way we interact with our customers. Blockchain has the potential to transform supply chains and payment networks. Cybersecurity takes on increasing importance in its unending battle to stay at least one step ahead of the “bad guys.”

Across all industries, organizations have developed digital strategies that will enable them to take advantage of these technologies. The result? A digital transformation that has impacted the way companies do business and continues to change so many aspects of our professional and personal lives. Even areas that had once been considered largely outside of the digital revolution have been digitized. Who would have ever imagined a time when, for many little ones, the kindergarten classroom would be online?

While our kindergartners will return to the classroom, other changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic will be permanent. More consumers will shop online. More employees will work more days from home. More business meetings will occur remotely. More commercial transactions will take place without human intervention. More and more data on our customers and markets will be there for the asking — and the insights.

Helping Employees Adapt

Employees must become comfortable with tapping into technology and understand all of its nuances. As organizations adapt to this influx of digital technology, learning leaders should consider using experiential learning methods to help employees become fluent with digital tools. When done well, experiential learning engages learners become active participants in their own development.

Some examples of experiential training methods include simulations and on-the-job training (OJT), where employees can experience firsthand their role within the organization. For example, employees can use a new digital communications tool to chat with a colleague or run a simulation where they serve a customer using a new platform.

The introduction of new technology can be cumbersome for some employees, as evidenced by the issues many people experienced with adapting to remote work last year. However, the experience of learning these new technologies and using them daily helped ease the transition and expedited the process of going fully remote. As a result, many organizations are now comfortable with a fully remote workforce, and companies like Twitter and Facebook have announced that their employees will be able to work from home permanently.

Putting employees in a situation where they can actively learn new digital capabilities helps them experience those technologies and immediately act on their learning. Experiential learning sticks, and it pays off for both the employees and the organization. It can help learners make lasting change in behavior and refine the skills they need to succeed in the workplace, and organizations stand to benefit from improved performance, productivity and profitability.

In a digital world, organizations are continuously evolving. To evolve successfully, digital intelligence is a requisite for employees throughout your organization. Experiential learning is one effective way to develop their digital fluency.

Editor’s note: Don’t miss our infographic on experiential learning, which shares insights from learning leaders like this one.