Many business leaders have been working in their industry for decades, and as such, they have witnessed countless changes to business strategy. Yet as more organizations pivot their operations to leverage digital technology, many of the most established and experienced business leaders are falling behind. Digital transformation is required for remaining competitive in the post-COVID Digital Age, when both suppliers and consumers expect organizations to operate using technologies that provide convenience to the point of near-instantaneousness. Unfortunately, not all executives find digital technology to be intuitive, so many find themselves unable to develop effective strategy for a digitally leveraged organization.
Increasingly, companies are faced with a difficult choice: ensure the technological education of their top business leaders or force those old-fashioned leaders out. Fortunately, gaining proficient knowledge and skill in tech is certainly possible. Here are a few ways that experienced executives can begin to grasp the current and emerging technology landscape for professional and personal success:
Continue to Participate in Formal Education
Formal education involves learning through an established system and structure, which has been proven to facilitate understanding and adoption of knowledge and skills by students. Executives eager to gain tech proficiency need formal education because they need guidance from an expert instructor, and they need to know what information and skills they will master by the end of their program.
Fortunately, executives have myriad options for formal education in digital tools and techniques. Online education offers some of the best options for busy business leaders, as online information technology courses tend to be easier to fit into a cluttered work schedule. When online courses are offered by prestigious universities, executives can gain access to high-quality education from industry experts.
Practice Tech Skills With Personal Projects
Though education can lay a strong foundation of understanding, practice will ensure that executives can apply their knowledge to the real business world. Executives should take advantage of practical assignments within their courses to inspire personal projects that will continue to hone their tech skill after their courses conclude.
Personal projects are more ideal for practicing tech skills than projects in the professional space for a handful of reasons. First, personal projects are on no time deadline, which allow business leaders more flexibility in scheduling their practice. Secondly, the stakes are essentially nonexistent for personal projects, which cannot be said of professional projects that could destabilize an entire organization.
The type of personal projects an executive engages with will depend entirely on their level of tech understanding and the skills they are interested in honing. As long as they dedicate some time every week toward their projects, they should continue to see marked improvements in their tech knowledge and skill.
Consume Tech-focused Media
Formal education is an incredibly powerful tool for gaining a large amount of complex and detailed information in a short span of time. Yet, formal education can move slowly to adapt to changes in the industry, and considering the speed at which technology develops, business leaders do need to rely on a less structured and more agile source of information through the rest of their careers — namely, the media. Fortunately, there is an abundance of tech-focused media for executives to consume, and much of it is targeted at business professionals, making its messages even more applicable.
The most up-to-date media about the tech industry tends to exist online. Business leaders should subscribe to blogs that post about tech-related issues in their field, and they might seek out innovative tech leaders on social media to gain access to cutting-edge insights. Executives can also sign up for technology-focused magazines and journals, which could offer more in-depth information into tech issues and provide direction in executives’ unstructured, informal education.
Discuss Technology With Peers and Colleagues
The more often an executive draws upon their new tech expertise, the better. Recalling information, especially newly grasped information, is an excellent way to strengthen memories associated with that information, which can help with mastery of subject material. Thus, business leaders should strive to have plenty of conversations about tech with their peers and colleagues. Not only will discussions about tech in the professional space demonstrate a business leader’s effort in becoming tech-savvy, but it could introduce that leader to new tech concepts and perspectives that can influence how they apply their knowledge and skill in the workplace.
Digital technologies are not going away. For business professionals, tech is only becoming more important in developing products, processes, solutions and services. Business leaders who feel less than competent in the highly technologized workplace have a critical decision to make: take the above steps to gain tech knowledge and skill or be eliminated as a redundancy.