The growing importance of digital skills in the workplace

Wednesday June 12 2019

All employees in different fields are

All employees in different fields are encouraged to learn digital skills. PHOTO I FILE 

By Success Reporter

The recent findings in the 2019 East Africa CEO outlook revealed that only 44 per cent of the global CEOs are ready to impart digital skills to their surbodinates.

And in East Africa, only 4 per cent of the CEOs are willing to impart digital skills to their employees.

This is in contrast with today’s world where digital skills are essential for an organization’s survival. With a digitally skilled and competent team, you can soar the market heights regardless of what industry you are plying your trade in.

For example, traditional media in Tanzania (especially print) have experienced firsthand the disruptions that can be caused by digital migration. What used to be prominent news portals are playing second fiddle to new media such as social media.

Today, news breaks faster online than anywhere else. Such a situation has rendered traditional media less effective than they were in yesteryears.

It is for this reason that almost all media houses resorted to a convergence scheme where media channels (print and digital) could be integrated to provide thorough reporting that touches both aspects of news dispensation.

Such a journey necessitated journalists to be taught digital skills to keep up with changing times. This included multiskilling where one journalist does multiple tasks, at times at once.

Across other professional fields, the digital influence has been felt far and wide. From commercial to social entities, in one way or another the use of electronic means has become a necessity to ensure the business keeps thriving.

Such ways of employees requiring a certain level of digital-know-how includes the use of the internet – one of the major ways of staying onboard the digital train.

Mr Emmanuel Luvuma, a digital expert at DigiCon Academy explains that being able to use the Internet effectively and productively ranges from usage of management and communication tools. This goes beyond basic tasks like sending emails. This is the only sure way to thrive in this digital era.

He says these skills shouldn’t be limited to people in marketing and digital departments but should be for everyone in an organisation.

Tech companies such as Smart Codes have long advocated for a tech-savvy society. Through their various programs such as Smart Lab, they try to inspire the youth to be more tech-oriented and think of startups that have a feasibility plan. This will, in effect, help the next generation of Tanzanians to be more digitally skilled.

Similarly, Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (Costech) in its endeavor to foster knowledge based economy through promotion, coordination of research, technology development and innovation for sustainable development in Tanzania, has helped incubate various tech startups. This goes a long way in contributing to the country’s digitally-skilled work force.

Learning digital skills for business survival isn’t limited to employees alone, even entrepreneurs and anyone else who’s self-employed needs to have basic digital skills for their business to stay above the economic challenges.

A university of Dar es Salaam student, Angel Mary, decided to open a social media account after noticing that she was losing a lot of customers in her clothing business. “I started this business in my first year at the university,” says the student who’s pursuing a degree in Journalism. “However, early last year I noticed that not too many people were coming to my store anymore,” she says.

She attributed such loss of customers to the digital influence where people could simply log onto social media sites and make their orders online, at the touch of a button without having to physically visit the shop.

After this, she made inquiries on digital marketing and soon after she decided to open an Instagram account, after being told that it is the most preferred social media site for such businesses.

Angel was able to witness a growth in sales and her online followers have been growing in numbers ever since.

Ms Pamela Hatega, the general manager at Blu Flamingo Digital Africa (Uganda) explains what areas of digital skilling one must be conversant with to thrive in the job market.

Strategy: She says one should be able to carry out end-to-end strategy. This entails understanding audiences because all the digital platforms are customer centric or customer-focused. Setting strategy entails understanding exactly what the customer needs.

This way, you can come up with objectives and decide which tactics to employ for your respective employer to ensure that you get the desired results.

Content Creation: “Content creation and storytelling is another skill. Your story is what sells on digital media. You need to be able to tell the story of your brand. If it’s a lifestyle brand show how it adds value to one’s life. If it’s a school, show why you ought to be educated anyway. Therefore, storytelling is vital,” Hatega adds. Social Care: She adds that social care which translates into customer service is key.

“You put up a post and find people following your brand, asking questions, for assistance, information, putting a comment or complaint. One must be able to professionally respond to queries in a timely manner and know how to handle the various online communities,”

Making analytics work for you: Analytics show you whether what you are doing is working or not. The beauty about digital media is that it is very easy to track for every initiative undertaken.

If you have a campaign that was going to run for three months and you have a set of actions to execute that campaign, you don’t have to wait for three months to elapse to know if the campaign is working. Analytics will tell you whether to carry on or to change tactics.

“Why spend on an approach that isn’t working? With analytics, one is able to change tactics until they find one that gives them value for money.” She notes.

Media Buying: Ms Hatega also hints on paid media. She says that without guidance, it is very easy to waste a lot money when it comes to buying Internet adverts.

“There is a misconception that digital media is cheap. There are some social media adverts that go for $3 to boost reach. This sounds cheap and exciting but it is important to know how exactly the concept of boosting reach works,”

Mr Luvuma adds, that it is essential to understand and research on how to use the Internet in a broader sense, about the various platforms, and to carry out competitive analysis to fully maximise the skills and have an online impact.

Delegate tasks: Ms Hatega advices organisations to have creative departments that come up with concepts, ideas and curate content.

Writers to tell stories, a copy team to edit the wording whether it is blogs or catchy phrases, strategists who set the pace and plans for brands. Making sure that strategies are executed and meeting the objectives of the brand.

There is also need for a social care or a customer service team that caters to your audience, a media planner with a good understanding of how paid media works and reporting and analytics sources that keep track of whether your execution plan is working or not.

Additional Reporting by Mpoki Thomson

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