Is a digital skills gap draining your team’s productivity?

Let’s cut to the chase. The answer to the question in the headline is almost certainly “Yes.”

And if you work for a large corporation, you can remove the almost.

While it would seem that today’s workforce is more tech-savvy than ever, our skills aren’t advancing as quickly as the technology that’s interwoven in our day-to-day work. And don’t just blame the 30-and-up crowd (AKA the old people). Age makes a minor difference, sure, but studies show that twenty-somethings are almost equally behind the curve. Even though today’s toddlers – the workers of tomorrow – are so tech-friendly that they’re befuddled by magazines because they think the pages should be touchscreens, there’s not a lot of evidence that our skill sets will be able to keep pace with technology’s cold and unrelenting march of progress.

Take big data. Big data has been a big buzzword for a while now, and there’s a fairly widespread embrace of its importance (or at least its potential). Brand marketers and agencies tend to especially be on board – yet only 25% of marketers are actually doing anything with the data. And when they want to go out and bring in someone who can do something with the data, only 32% of marketers and 50% of agencies are satisfied with how their organizations assess job candidates. In other words, the Evel Knievel of skill gaps could be sitting in the conference room for a job interview, and at least half of the companies wouldn’t know how to tell whether he’s a good fit.

Analytics is a major area impacted by the digital skills gap, but it’s far from the only area. Only one in 10 workers in the U.S. say they’ve mastered the tech tools at their disposal. One in three say they’re flat-out not proficient. That works out to be, approximately, a trillion-dollar-plus hit to our productivity. If that collective number is so unfathomably large that it almost seems irrelevant to smaller businesses, then consider each of your employees or teammates spending 20% of their time wasting their time because they haven’t quite figured out the tools they’re using. That doesn’t mean they’re not doing their jobs, but it does mean they’re not doing them very efficiently.

Mind the GapThe problem isn’t unique to the States; 77% of tech companies in London reported that the digital skills gap was hindering their ability to grow. The problem is severe enough in Europe that Google, Facebook and a few of their fellow giants are partnering with the Digital Marketing Institute to create an honest-to-goodness syllabus to bring marketers and businesses up to speed.

The gap isn’t new, of course. It’s been around at least as long as people have been listing themselves as Excel experts because they know how to insert a column into a spreadsheet.

What’s to be done? For businesses, the latest research serves as another call to action: you must train your team to be proficient beyond the bare necessities of the job. Set a good example. In our own research with Central Desktop users, we’ve seen plenty of evidence to suggest that executive leadership makes a major impact on long-term success rates. If you’re introducing new technology, make sure to clearly articulate your reasons for adoption. Put it in writing, then write some training materials. Not surprisingly, we’ve found that companies that put up the resources to support training wind up with 21% higher user adoption.

On a personal level, of course, there is opportunity to be found in a vacuum. Not only can you bridge the gap yourself, if indeed you feel a gap exists, but you can become a leader and champion who helps others bridge the gap. You’ll potentially save your business a bundle while reinforcing yourself as an indispensable piece of the operation.

All of that applies to just about any situation involving new technology and/or the digital skills gap. What about people who are specifically looking to improve their Central Desktop experience?

Central Desktop offers a number of resources to help users maximize their efficiency. The Central Desktop Community is a user forum devoted to best practices, time-saving tricks and advanced collaboration topics.  CD University is a free series of interactive webinars on topics like file management and project management (more courses coming soon). And, finally, our annual Collabosphere user conference is a great way to learn from and share with other Central Desktop users, as well as our own product, engagement and support specialists. This year’s Collabosphere will take place on September 9 in Long Beach, CA.

To find out more about the different types of collaborators in your universe – and how they respond to new technology – check out our 9 collaborators infographic.

Adam McKibbin
Post by Adam McKibbin

Adam McKibbin is the content marketing manager for iMeet Central. His writing has been featured in Adweek, the Chicago Tribune and The Nation, and he’s produced content for some of the leading tech brands on the Fortune 500.

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