Digital transformation is a hot topic in companies globally. Companies are trying to keep in step with the ‘3rd industrial revolution’, by adopting the latest digital technologies such as analytics, mobility, social media and smart embedded devices, because they know that not to do so will surely mean a quick downfall of their business.

An assumption then would be that at the heart of each organisation’s digital transformation is the up and coming generation of young employees, dubbed ‘digital natives’.

These young workers use digital tools in a different way to their older colleagues, able to multitask using their laptop, Blackberry and notepad simultaneously, accessing several social networking sites, having an IM chat with their colleagues at the same time as completing their work.

The question still remains however as to how digital are these digital natives?

As part of my research, I conducted a study to ask this question. The focus of the study was to understand how the new generation uses digital technologies in the workplace, what impact this has on their communications and work/life balance. One of the key findings was that although the respondents did agree they feel comfortable using the latest digital tools, they also said that they do not think of themselves as technology experts and would find some specific training in this area welcome.

There is clearly merit in organisations providing digital training to their young employees focusing on improving the company’s competitiveness and most importantly aligning to the overall business strategy.

Top  5 ‘E’s to ensure your ‘digital natives’ are at the heart of your digital transformation:

I. EQUIP                         Ensure that young employees have at their disposal the latest tools they’re used to using outside the office.  Harness their innate understanding of digital by asking them what they see as the new trends to take up and which are just passing fads. They are more likely to know!

II. EDUCATE              Train young employees in the use of digital tools in a way that will make them more productive, shifting the focus from social use to business enhancement.

III. EMPOWER           Encourage them to teach their older colleagues how to use digital tools and in turn allow them to absorb the wealth of experience and business know how.

IV. ENHANCE            Align their use of digital tools to the organisation’s strategy. Young employees want to understand the strategy and goals of the business they are working for and how they can help achieve these.

V. ERADICATE          Create the digital agenda with ‘people risk’ issues in mind. As mentioned in ‘Conduct and People Risk’: Tackling the Digital Best blog    there are real risks to companies’ reputations associated with the use of digital technologies by their employees. For example posting negative comments or company secrets on social websites such as Facebook or Twitter only to end up being dissected on the next day’s evening news causing irreparable damage.  

Research (CIPD, Forrester among many) confirms that most companies have not yet embraced these opportunities that their new employees and digital tools bring to continued success of their business. I believe the time is now!