How to morph into a digitally-savvy native

Your guide to becoming a "digital native."

With a landscape marked by “digital overload,” organisations are struggling with some basic terms and concepts. Track trends around digital-speak and hang out with the natives. Trends to watch.*

Trend 1: Digital ecosystem

Digital simply replaces analogue communication. It’s about digits, as in Latin to count. Digital communication leverages fast, electronic pulses between computer systems, networks, devices or electronics.

In a super-connected world, the digital ecosystem includes your mobile devices, wearables, sensors, cloud storage, software to analyse data, or electronic devices.

If you use these basic tools, you’re already a digital native. The danger lies in reading more into going digital – because you’re already there.

The digital ecosystem offers the tools and technologies to help you connect, more readily, with communities of interest.

Digital technologies encompass bring-your-own or choose-your-own devices, access to cloud storage, or software to slice and dice the “big data.”

As the global, pervasive, and mostly invisible glue, the internet connects billions of computers, networks, communications infrastructure or mobile devices – criss-crossing the planet. These connections link billions of users across millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks.

The broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies hang off the internet – offering access to a ubiquitous, inexpensive and anywhere, anytime resource.

Trend 2: Digital disruption

All this means is the more nimble, digitally-savvy smaller players may cut into your market share. Technology drives this disruption. This includes mobility, analytics, big data, social media or the cloud.

This buzzword was first coined by Harvard University’s Clayton Christensen. This means a product or service takes root initially at the bottom of the market.

The disruptors work their way up the food chain – disrupting the status quo of established players. For example, in education, this involves sandstone universities being replaced by the more nimble digital education providers.

Digital disruptors rely on social networks and are light on assets. They integrate more readily with digitally-empowered consumers.

These contenders cut into established revenue streams without being saddled by expensive real estate or infrastructure. As a digital native, you use your “digital capital” or resources to create value from your technology investment. Used astutely, digital tools help you grow revenue, capture new markets or leverage the mind-share.

Digital disruption drives your company or product strategy. This involves improving customer interface, working faster with suppliers, intermediaries, or digitally-connected communities. It’s about creating value from what you own and how you interact with digital counterparts.

The landscape is transformed by digital disruption. A “disruptive” technology simply shakes the way you do business. It forces you to rethink how you work, engage, or plan for the future.

Trend 3: Digital assets

A digital asset is anything stored in binary format. Rich media assets include photos, music, videos, animations, podcasts and other multimedia content. This also includes electronic documents, email or other corporate information.

You need the right tools to organise, store and retrieve rich media. There are checklists around managing digital rights or permission to use someone else’s proprietary information. Although in the digital space, the lines blur around ownership, and who owns which piece of the puzzle.

Ask yourself: do you have the archives and infrastructure to preserve and manage digital assets? How intuitive is the search and retrieval capability? How much time does it take end users to identify, locate and retrieve an asset?

You also need clarity around metadata involving files, formats, content and use. Digital asset management software helps you create and manage your databases and integrate more efficiently with the rich media.

Take the cue from publishing or media companies that’re using content management systems and leverage customer-facing websites or mobile apps.

Trend 4: Digital natives

Snazzy as this sounds, this term was coined by Marc Prensky many moons ago. It’s about a generation that lives, works and plays in the virtual space.

This demographic bristles with laptops, smart phones, videogame
s, digital music players or video cams. The challenge is to reach, engage and elicit responses from a generation that speaks in dots and dashes.

The attention span of digital natives is finite – split-seconds, by some accounts. This digital-speak revolves around computers, video games or the internet. This century, technology remains the key to thinking and learning about our world. If technology is an extension of the “digital brain” you need new ways to fire up the neurons.

For education, this rethink involves innovation around delivering content or teaching. Long-winded lecture rooms are old school. Perhaps offer pithy paragraphs or links through tweets? Or explore blended learning and the more intuitive teaching tools.

Language from the “pre-digital” age risks being lost in translation. You need to respond immediately to the more natural, exploratory, and interactive learning styles. Perhaps leverage computer games and gamification.

For example, gamification offers the more interactive environment for learners. They collaborate, use critical thinking, solve problems, and are creative, while at play. As the creators of content, these digital natives are co-travelers in our social space.

Follow Shahida Sweeney on Twitter: @ShahidaSweeney

*This post first appeared at IDG Government.