Digital dexterity – digitally adept organizations are ahead

Organizations with a high level of digital dexterity are able to use new technologies quickly and efficiently. In this interview, tts Product Manager Britt Bürgy explains why digital dexterity is a critical success factor for digital transformation and suggests where organizations can make a start on developing it.
December 05, 2023
5 min

For a number of years now, we have been hearing that organizations need to improve their digital adoption, digital skills and agility to achieve a successful digital transformation. Digital dexterity has now been added to this list. Don’t all these buzzwords boil down to the same thing? 

Britt Bürgy: They are certainly closely related. In actual fact, they complement each other, because they relate to different digital sticking points. Digital dexterity is achieved once all disruptions and obstacles have been overcome. Only then can an organization adapt quickly to changes and make profitable use of new technologies. 

In that case, why don’t organizations work directly on their digital dexterity? 

Britt Bürgy: Well, you see, you can’t have one without the other. To achieve a high level of digital dexterity, you must invest in the digital skills of your employees, adopt agile working methods and reduce digital friction. You also have to build up digital adoption. That means ensuring staff accept digital technologies and integrate them into their daily work processes. Digital dexterity is only achieved when everything comes together. 

Organizations have been providing their staff with further training, using agile ways of working and investing in digital transformation projects for years. Shouldn’t most of them have long since acquired a high level of digital dexterity?  

Britt Bürgy: They key question is why, despite these investments, so many organizations are still a long way behind with their digitalization goals. This is where things get interesting. Digital dexterity shifts the focus from individual workforce-related measures to the corporate structure. In other words, it’s not so much a case of instrumental fitness, although that is naturally needed as well. Digital dexterity is about the organizational adjustments that are required to enable a change of culture toward digital adoption. 

That sounds like a lot of work. Where can organizations make a start?  

Britt Bürgy: The most important areas to address are located at the interface between culture and technology. First of all, senior and middle management must acknowledge that organizational changes are necessary. They must develop a shared vision that answers the following questions: How can a culture of innovation be embraced, what form can continuous learning take, and how can a situation be created in which staff are always open to digital change?  

Once this challenge has been met, existing structures and processes must be adapted in line with the vision. In most cases, this means giving greater weight to capabilities and roles than to positions and functions. Only then can self-organized teams work together in flat hierarchies. These are not easy steps. 

Organizations no doubt encounter technology-related challenges along the way … 

Britt Bürgy: In actual fact, the biggest challenges rarely relate to the technologies themselves. Empowering staff in a way that means they are able to and want to keep pace with technological developments is much more difficult. A digital adoption platform such as the tts performance suite plays an important role in this. On the one hand, it helps users with their questions about new applications and does so directly in the workplace. On the other, it encourages an understanding of new processes. The platform thus gives staff a high level of certainty in their day-to-day work and ensures they remain open to changes – a key prerequisite for the necessary change of culture.  

You have emphasized several times how important a change of culture is. Do you think many organizations still underestimate how critical a digital culture is to the success of their digital transformation? 

Britt Bürgy: A few years ago, my answer to this question would have been a definite yes. After numerous, expensive failures, however, most organizations have now realized that the technology itself is just one part of the solution. Ultimately, it is an organization’s digital culture that determines whether and how efficiently new technologies are used. What is supposedly a soft factor creates hard facts – in the form of competitive disadvantages that represent an existential threat to an organization.  

Where should responsibility for digital dexterity lie within an organization?  

Britt Bürgy: Smaller organizations can appoint one person to be responsible for digital dexterity. This person can identify the current situation, define and analyze key performance indicators and, in dialog with senior and HR management, derive appropriate measures and monitor their success.

What about larger organizations? 

Britt Bürgy: At larger organizations and corporations, it’s up to those in management roles in the first instance. They must firmly establish digital dexterity as a strategic goal within the organization and make the necessary resources available.  

When it comes to actual implementation, IT and HR must work together as closely as possible. While IT ensures the digital technologies and processes operate smoothly, HR promotes the digital skills of employees. It’s vital for everything to be seamless. If management staff, IT and HR work separately, no progress will be made.

It sounds like digital dexterity isn’t hype, but a genuine competitive factor. Would you agree? 

Britt Bürgy: Yes, absolutely. After all, digital dexterity is a critical success factor. Various studies have shown that digitally adept organizations make systematic and profitable use of new technologies. For example, they reach decisions by analyzing data and prepare innovative customer quotations on this basis. They can also adapt quickly to the constantly changing requirements of a world full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. This enables these organizations to keep their noses in front. They enjoy greater business success and a higher level of employee satisfaction than their competitors. 

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