CIOs Thriving in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Growing an Arsenal of Digital Skillsets Throughout the Organization

Published by ICTC and Transport Canada, March 2021

As we enter into the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, global markets, organizational practices, and standards are changing. More and more we live in a digital society, a culture which is completely permeated by applications and data, our actions are frequently mediated by digital tools, and the objects we encounter are often shaped by digital intervention. From the farmers of Tanzania using mobile phone to receive payments for their crops, to doctors in Canada using video conferencing to evaluate patients during a pandemic — today Digital Literacy is an essential aspect of life. As such, the vulnerability of an organization increasingly stems from the leadership team’s ability to increase digital literacy, evaluate the impact of drivers, signals & trends, as well as maintain alignment in their organization. However, regardless of this, research shows that the vast majority of enterprises are choosing to optimize existing business models, rather than transforming. This can effect even digitizing enterprises, which remain vulnerable to a crisis demanding fundamental change.

Technology has and will continue to transform our lives, therefore, increasing Digital Literacy is no longer an option but rather an indispensable requirement. Enterprises must ensure their workforce is not only confident in their abilities to use various technologies but can also fluently speak its language, identify associated trends, as well as continue to learn and grow alongside the technology. A successful transformation strategy is rooted within the organization, more specifically, a successful transformation strategy begins with the workers.

When determining an innovation strategy many corporate executives focus the majority — if not all — their efforts on technological improvements and innovations. While this is a common strategy, this is not a complete approach. Another component of a thorough action is related to Social Innovation. Social innovation refers to innovating and improving social practices in order to meet new needs. For an organization this means their employees behavior, and even the overall imbedded company culture. Without Social Innovation an organization will likely struggle. A key component of Social Innovation is Digital Literacy. It is irrelevant how much is invested in an exciting new technology, if the employees are not digitally literate enough to use it or execute their job to their full potential, then valuable resources are wasted.

Analyst: Andrew Morgan

Contributors: Transport Canada, Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), Philippe Johnston, and Nina Brudermanns

For in-depth insights into the digital economy and the policies that shape it, follow the Digital Think Tank by ICTC on Medium and sign up for our email briefing.




The Digital Think Tank by ICTC is the research and policy arm of the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC).

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