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Editorial Team
26 Mar 2021



Digital dexterity – the most crucial ingredient for market success

Digital Dexterity

With technology making its place across work and life, the ability and readiness to work with the newest digital tools are key for future business success.

The onward march of digitalization continues unabated, be it in our work lives or our personal ones. At home, voice-activated assistants control smart home solutions and fast digital payment systems handle all transactions. At the workplace, though, the transition has not been quite so seamless.

Is a physical workplace really necessary?

It is the post-COVID-19 era, and organizations must consider if they even need physical office space, given the inexorably growing tribe of employees realizing offices are unrequired. What organizations really need is digital dexterity at the workplace. The focus needs to be on hybrid workplaces supporting both onsite employees and virtual workers. Engagement will be a lesser concern than in the past, as now almost everyone is working remotely at the same time.

What is digital dexterity?

According to Gartner, digital dexterity is “the employee’s ability and desire to use and apply existing and emerging technology to drive better business outcomes”. This means that high digital dexterity gives people an edge over those with moderate or low levels, and allows companies to successfully adapt to changes in technology, industry dynamics, customer expectations, and more.

Digital dexterity is the secret ingredient that creates an agile and flexible workforce, which in turn is imperative for the success of digital transformation projects. Evidence supports this – Gartner research shows that employees with high digital dexterity were 3.3 times more likely to be quick and effective at executing digital initiatives in their organizations!

Digital dexterity is crucial for the success of business models

Contrary to what it might appear to be, digital dexterity is more a work culture concept than a technical one. Whenever a new work method, product, or technology is rolled out, its success is contingent on a workforce able and willing to:

  • Engage with new technology
  • Adapt its work style to include the same
  • Learn fast how it fits with the overall organizational mission
‘Survival of the fittest' in the organizational context is now ‘survival of the digitally fittest’.

Technology is disrupting the world of work faster than we may realize. If an enterprise is to succeed, it must evolve digitally, else it could die out. In this urgency to transform or catch up, workforces often do not evolve fast enough; hence, they do not leverage the technology quite as fast as the latter is introduced. This becomes the biggest roadblock on the path to successful digital transformation.

How does digital dexterity help?


Figure 4 from Capgemini: Advanced level of Digital Dexterity is a key advantage over competitors

As hard as it is to achieve, digital dexterity is hugely rewarding. Digitally dexterous employees bring the following benefits to their employers:

benefits of digital dexterity

Digital dexterity needs preparation and effort

So, what does it take? Willpower to come up to pace quickly and tech-savviness to be able to understand quickly how to use new technologies are two givens.

Another key ingredient is power skills. Useful for thriving in collaborative and iterative working models, adaptability and resiliency are must-haves.

Finally, Agile – it helps to meet business challenges with solutions that are customer-driven, simple, and quick.

What must the organization do to improve digital dexterity?

Only 9 percent of employees have high digital dexterity!

The responsibility to fix this lies not on HR or IT by itself, but on the organization as a whole. Employees must be taught core technical skills to work with the newest technologies. But apart from this, mindset skills are very important, such as:

  • Ambition to perform strongly and succeed in the new environment
  • Aptitude to work with new technologies
  • Open-mindedness to try different things

It helps for HR to take the lead, working in collaboration with other departments across the organization. HR leaders are best placed to initiate competency development around digital dexterity, which individual business units can then take up. Managers and team leaders can leverage their close interactions with the workforce to understand their concerns, goals, and needs, and HR can help to fulfill needs for employee support, talent, and workforce development.

It is time to take definitive steps toward digital dexterity

The news is troubling for companies looking toward successful digital transformation:

  • Only 39 percent of companies have the digital capacities
  • Only 35 percent have the requisite managerial capacities

Any move toward digital dexterity must begin with a mindset change – in favor of teamwork and collaboration; growth; technological adaptiveness; algorithmic and data literacy; and complex problem-solving and critical thinking. Here are the steps to take:

steps of digital dexterity

In summary…

The pandemic has been the latest challenge reemphasizing the need for continuous learning. Moves toward digital transformation have been definitively accelerated, with the understanding that digital dexterity ensures a strong line of defense against market threats and creates a future-ready workforce that can sail the unpredictable waters of the world economy.

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