In the last few months and since I launched my newsletter a few weeks ago, I’ve had a lot of questions about how to go about becoming more digitally literate, so I thought I would share my story and how I approach this.

I’ve had an interest in technology all my life, but my more recent journey to digital literacy began over 10 years ago when I got my first iPhone way back in 2007. I was already an avid Blackberry user so wasn’t expecting that the change would be as big as it was. But of course there is a world of difference between an iPhone and a Blackberry (a great case study in disruption by the way). I became fascinated by how rapidly customer behaviour was changing as the technology shifts accelerated around us.

Technology had of course been changing over decades but until the arrival of the iPhone, these changes had largely been in the background. As I observed the changes in customer behaviour happening all around me, I quickly recognised I could not effectively perform my role as a customer experience senior executive without a much deeper understanding of the ways in which technology would change customers’ expectations of and experience with organisations. I needed to rapidly become digitally literate.

At the time, it was relatively easy to stay abreast of technology trends. Change was happening at a slower pace (although it didn’t seem like it!), and while there were less sources of information, there were still plenty available, but without the overwhelm that is common today.

In 2021 however, no matter how expert you might be, it is no longer possible for one person to be always up to date with all of the elements that are part of the landscape of technology, digital and innovation. There is too much happening and the level of detail and sophistication in each of these areas requires a change of approach.

As the pace of technology innovation accelerated, for some time I felt like I was falling behind and I spent more and more time on the hamster wheel trying to keep up. At some point I realised that I needed to redefine what “keeping up to date” actually meant, and to change my approach. Now I spend time scanning and then have to choose where to deep dive based on areas of interest. For example, I have recently worked with a Health Tech startup to develop an Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy, which led to AI becoming an area of focus.

On my learning journey it has helped me to first get an understanding of the landscape from the 30,000 foot view. In the case of digital and innovation, building a solid understanding of key concepts that are of strategic importance has been very helpful in giving me almost a virtual pegboard on which to hang the specific pieces of information I gather. I then deep dive as needed.

Having established my landscape view, here are six ways I stay relevant:

  1. Find some good online sources, particularly organisations who specialise in technology trends. I have regular ones and I also like to explore and discover new ones. This can be via websites, podcasts or Youtube channels.
  2. Interesting books. I enjoy reading and have built quiet time for learning into my morning routine. Books also have the benefit of keeping me away from the digital vortex (oh the irony of that!).
  3. Online courses – there is a massive amount of information available online now – although working out what is right for me at an affordable price and time commitment can be challenging.
  4. Expert resources around me – colleagues I can connect with, skills I could hire onto my team (not always an option), and experts employed by partners/vendors.
  5. Social media connections: LinkedIn and Twitter are my go-to platforms for this. Curated Twitter lists is one way, and also engaging with and growing connections helps expand your network.
  6. Mentoring: seek mentors from digital and technology experts.

Unless you are as much of a nerd as me, I don’t suggest all of these. The intention here is to give you a menu of options, any one of which can be a useful place to start. I also suggest choosing the form that most fits with how you like to learn, as well as mixing it up a bit.

How do you stay up to date – what works for you? I would love to hear.