Is a low digital quotient holding your business back?

Jez Ward, Head of Advisory and Executive Cloud Advisor at Cloudreach, discusses how IT leaders can develop Digital Quotient within a business and provides a few tips on ways organisations can educate their workforce.

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This is a contributed article by Jez Ward, Head of Advisory and Executive Cloud Advisor, Cloudreach.

Many businesses, across an array of sectors, will measure the intelligence quotient (IQ) and emotional quotient (EQ) of their leaders to better understand their potential. While that is an understood and common practice, some organisations are missing out by ignoring digital quotient (DQ).

Similar to IQ and EQ, ensuring a richly developed DQ can help businesses and individuals collaborate more effectively and understand the strengths and weaknesses in their strategies. For CIOs this means developing digital skills across their businesses and continuing to upskill as time goes on.

What is digital quotient?

Digital quotient is described as “the awareness and application of existing and emerging digital technologies, capabilities, practices and strategies.” The term DQ has been around for a few years and is often used as a maturity model to measure an organisation’s digital readiness and awareness.

More recently, there has been an effort to coordinate a set of standards for DQ globally; there’s even an International DQ Day which is organised by the DQ Institute and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association.

Why does DQ matter to a business? As companies grow, they begin to prioritise digital transformation and cloud migration initiatives more. Naturally, this means that digital skills also need to grow across all levels of the business and be prioritised too. For some organisations it may be easier to refer to DQ as ‘thinking cloud-natively’.

Those that are more mature in how they use technology and how they think about their people are geared towards getting products into the hands of their customers faster – and figuring out whether those products are right or not. The lack of leadership knowledge around technology can hold a company back.

As a leader in an organisation, it’s part and parcel of the job to understand how to manage budgets, workflows, and strategy. These are considered the fundamentals of any role with managerial responsibilities; DQ should be considered just as important.

How does DQ work on an individual level?

While DQ can be thought about as a priority at an organisational level, it’s equally important to measure and develop DQ on an individual level. As businesses push for more digital transformation and cloud migration, it’s important the leaders and teams behind these initiatives are ready.

Where DQ can be particularly interesting is when it’s applied to individual people and their individual leaders as you would do with IQ and EQ. This is why DQ is so important for digital transformation, no business can operate within a silo.

Projects aren’t run autonomously, and decisions are made by human beings. If the teams involved aren’t at the point where they can understand the possibility of the technology and the nature of the transformation, then these digital initiatives won’t reach their full potential and will instead become tech and cost saving centric.  

Many organisations are already prioritising the development of individual DQ; five years ago, many businesses would leave the education until much later down the line. Now, some businesses are ensuring staff are trained and upskilled in terms of technology and digital potential before projects have even started.

How to become a DQ champion?

The first thing forward thinking CIOs should do is take steps to foster and nurture a culture where digital skills are valued. It’s important to prioritise the development of the DQ of all staff, regardless of their seniority or function. People can’t act in a silo. Creating an organisational culture where digital transformation is seen as a strategic business initiative rather than an IT project is crucial.

Developing DQ is a marathon, not a sprint. While it is great to foster a culture change, this cannot happen overnight successfully. For those CIOs looking to develop their organisations’ DQ, it should be a case of trying to walk before they run - in other words, smaller, incremental steps with measured training and upskilling, over big transformation projects.

If DQ isn’t already on your agenda, it should be. Developing a strong DQ across the business is crucial in fostering a culture where digital transformation programs succeed. In the medium and long term, organisations that fail to prioritise digital skills will struggle to keep up with those that do as more and more companies look to become cloud-native and digital at heart.

Jez Ward is currently the Head of Advisory and Executive Cloud Advisor at Cloudreach – providing advice and support to enterprises on Cloud adoption, looking at business benefits and short, medium and long term strategic planning as well as co-hosting the Cloudbusting Podcast.