What’s your digital fitness level and how can you improve it?

1 May 2020

Joe Tynan, PwC. Image: Maxwell Photography

PwC Ireland’s chief digital officer, Joe Tynan, discusses the company’s new digital fitness assessment app and the importance of closing the digital knowledge gap.

Digital awareness has never been so important. More people than ever are now working from home and communicating online, and the current crisis has highlighted the dangers of misinformation, which has never been easier to access.

Becoming more digitally fit can help people at any technical level to improve their digital literacy and awareness in this challenging time.

With this in mind, PwC has released its own digital fitness app for free to the public through the App Store and Google Play Store, with the login code ‘lrnall’.

According to the app’s introduction screen, “digitally fit individuals have the skills to create and implement digital solutions, a curious mindset that encourages experimenting with new things, collaborative daily behaviours and strong online relationships”.

To find out more, Siliconrepublic.com spoke to PwC Ireland’s chief digital officer, Joe Tynan, who said the app was created as an internal tool to raise its employees’ digital awareness. “It’s about closing that digital knowledge gap.”

Once you sign up to the app, you’re prompted to complete an assessment, which asks you a series of questions and takes no longer than 15 minutes. This will give you your ‘digital fitness score’, which you can then improve with as little as 20 minutes of digital fitness training per week.

‘You’ve got to want to improve your digital knowledge’

“It feeds you things that are appropriate for your level and from what you’re showing an interest in,” said Tynan. “So, if you start off with quite a low score, it’ll send you some of the more basic information. Every week, it tests your score and as you move up, it’ll feed you more advanced articles.”

He said that while each PwC employee has their own core competencies such as tax, accounting or HR, the digital fitness app was designed for them to add a digital layer on top of that to enhance those competencies.

Due to Covid-19, digital transformation has accelerated and altered the way people interact, shop, bank and work. This prompted PwC to launch a free version to the public.

“It is for everyone but obviously you’ve got to want to improve your digital knowledge. Once you’re up for that, it will have something for you,” he said.

“Because it uses machine learning, it has something even if you’re really digitally advanced or have a great digital knowledge. It keeps throwing up a variety of different trusted sources.”

The app also has a mix of media, so people can choose to read articles, listen to podcasts or watch videos, or they can choose a combination. Tynan added that there is also a range of materials, from TED Talks to Harvard Business Review articles.

“It’s designed for somebody who could be quite good right down to children, so even primary school children will get something from this. They can flick through [it], they can pick what interests them and feed them more information in relation to that.”

According to the app, it scores people on four pillars: tech skills, behaviours, relationships they build and the mindset they approach work in. This is combined with 10 years of PwC digital IQ data and research by the Katzenbach Centre.

The challenges of digital transformation

Tynan said that while digital transformation has been accelerated massively due to Covid-19, one of the biggest challenges around implementing change has been communication.

He said that when speaking to people about transformation, some can worry that it means taking them away from the core area they want to work in and turning them into some sort of digital expert.

“We want people to have their core skills but we just want them to learn digital on top of that, so that’s absolutely key, being clear about what it is that you’re trying to do.”

Tynan added that in order for companies to ensure their employees are on board with digital transformation, they have to own it and be able to control it. “We very much engaged our people and they own it,” he said.

“They decide what they want to change and at what pace they want to change it at. We don’t have a big central team that comes in and says, ‘We’re going to transform how your business operates’, because that feels like something’s being done to [them], which is generally not a good place to be.”

PwC delivers a digital academy to its employees and Tynan said a part of that is helping teams to think about how they can use a variety of digital tools to improve their day-to-day work.

“We give our people the ability and then we push them to figure out how they can do that better,” he said. “There are some things we do at an enterprise level in terms of enterprise-wide processes, but a lot of it is individual, people-led innovation.

“The key question that companies need to ask themselves is: ‘What is your vision of the future?’ Because you’ve got to be very clear about that.

“You need to have a vision of what that future is, but for a lot of companies, you need your people to be fully engaged, so for me now actually more than ever, it’s really important that they own it.”

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic