Thursday, May 31, 2012

Digital DNA - do you have it?

Everything you use these days is powered, improved or made by technology. From the kettle you boil your morning tea with, through to the smartphone you browse the web with, play games with, share images with and occasionally make calls with. Technology is unavoidable in the modern world.

But some people just seem to understand it more, they just 'get it'  and others don't. Why is this? 

It's pretty obvious that younger people, the digital natives, are far more savvy than the older  ones. They've been weaned and brought up seeing tech used in everyday life and are far more familiar with it in business, encouraging the BYOB (bring your own device) approach that we now see IT departments struggling with. My three year old daughter tells me "daddy, the tv is broken" because it isn't touchscreen and doesn't allow her all the choice available on her* iPad.

* I haven't actually bought her a £500 device, this is a work purchase. But somehow it typically finds its way onto her lap when it's not being used.

But it's not just an old vs new thing. I've seen some young people struggle with even a simple device and have observed senior citizens pick up & use intricate equipment like they've always had it. On top of this, there are grades of tech understanding, which sees some users coding complex development code in minutes and others just about able to use consumer devices.

I put this down to something I've been referring to as Digital DNA. The additional skill of understanding modern technology and being able to use it quickly and effectively for either passing the time, saving time or for commercial gain. 

Don't get me wrong, this is not some genetic mutation I'm suggesting here, that will be revealed by sequencing the chromosomes of specific people. It's actually a mental function that either exists or is developed (natured or nurtured? That's perhaps a question for another time), but I call it Digital DNA because for me this goes to the core of an individual. It means they are far more likely to integrate tech products and concepts into their work & play. They have it within them to understand how things work and integrate without much explanation and then are willing to learn as they go.

The secret for any employer looking to keep ahead of the competition in the online and increasingly multi-channel market, is to identify these people within the organisation and decide how best to use and encourage this innate ability.

Hayden Sutherland
Digital Strategy - Website Delivery - Online Marketing
+44 (0)780 1341955
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