Updated: Apr 10
Photo by Nubelson Fernandes
In today's world of work, just having a university degree or specialised training will not be enough to succeed in the modern workforce. Knowledge workers are expected to be proficient in specific digital skills due to the importance and prevalence of new technology, a growing feature of the fourth industrial revolution. There are skills that everyone entering the workforce, whether as an employee or an entrepreneur, will have to acquire if they are to be functional and deliver to their target customer with efficiency and understanding.
These digital subordinate skills range from using an email manager to video editing. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have rendered some tasks that were done by human redundant. With these technologies' expected growth, many professionals will be affected; some will cease to exist, and the new professions will continue to develop exponentially.
While not everyone will have to become a UX designer or a cognitive technologist, some basic digital skills are essential for the proper functioning of knowledge workers in today's workplace. There are a growing number of software and web-based programs that most professionals will have to gain some degree of mastery. They include productivity tools such as Microsoft Office, video conferencing like Zoom, cloud computing (Dropbox/ Google Drive), project management (Asana), payment systems (PayPal), Social media marketing (Facebook/Instagram).
The Microsoft Office bundle is a productivity tool that is an essential software for all professionals and organisations. This ubiquitous package includes Word, for word-processing; Excel, a spreadsheet program; Access, a database program; Publisher (desktop publishing); PowerPoint, a program for slide presentations; Outlook, email and schedule management); OneNote (notes organisation) and InfoPath (information tracking).
While this powerful suite is the most popular productivity software in the workplace, it is one of the most underutilised. Some users are not aware of the features and stick to workhorses such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Surprisingly many users are not proficient in Outlook, sticking to web-based emailing services such as Gmail. Additionally, the proficiency levels for Word, PowerPoint and Excel are shallow in some instances.
Learning to utilise this bundle at a highly proficient level in the day to day running of a firm, can make a world of difference to the bottom line.
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Video conferencing has emerged as an everyday necessity, as remote learning and work become the new norm. Video conferencing software currently and is used for business, education, training and socialisation. Since COVID 19, it has become the primary tool for connecting people. It has also caused a lot of consternation due to the inability to manipulate the technology by many users unfamiliar with the software and who had no intentions of using it before COVID 19.
However, video conferencing is here to stay and has become an essential tool for all businesses and training/learning institutions. Learning to navigate video conferencing software such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, BlackBoard Collaborate, Whereby, Google Hangout, and Google Meets is necessary. Professionals and educators have discovered that mastery of video conferencing tools is vital in the upskilling process.
Efficiently storing and accessing data is an essential process in today's information-driven world. This necessity leads us to what is known as cloud computing. Cloud computing translates to storing and accessing data and programs over the internet instead of on computer hard drives. Cloud computing has increased the accessibility of data while simultaneously rendering hardware storage almost obsolete. Here are a few cloud computing software programmes that you will encounter in your everyday interactions. They are Apple I Cloud, Google Drive and Dropbox; these tools have facilitated data storage, backup, synchronisation and collaboration that in the current work environment has become indispensable.
As the workforce continues to embrace alternative strategies in labour and move to more project-driven arrangements, there is a growing need for solutions to increase productivity and efficiency among team members. Project management software is increasingly becoming the popular choice for small and large companies that want to ensure maximum outputs from team members. Among the more popular choice are Asana, Trello and Slacks.
The aforementioned bunch of project management software, by and large, covers some critical characteristics which make them among the most popular. They include ease of collaboration, seamless integration, mobile app ready and well-defined team roles and responsibilities. The ultimate selection of these solutions will depend on a company's workflows, resources and culture.
Businesses have been moving away from their traditional reliance on the formal banking system. They have been utilising online payment systems that have proven to be more effective, efficient and user-friendly. Many companies are adopting e-commerce strategies while others are exclusively online. An online payment system facilitates ACH payments, also known as direct payments. ACH payments allow the transfer of money from one bank account to another without using traditional transactions such as wire transfers, cheques, credit cards, or cash. Some payment systems are now offering online payments such as social commerce and in-store online card reader system.
One of the most popular payment acquirer and processing service among e-commerce firms is PayPal. This payment system facilitates financial transactions for entrepreneurs with start-ups excluded from the financial system due to bureaucratic red tape and onerous regulations. With PayPal, payments are made using a user's existing account or with a credit card. Money is sent directly to an account holder's email address. The company also offers remittance services for its account holders to ease the stress of payment.
With the proliferation of mobile phones and the increasing popularity of social media, companies must exploit this growing market and behavioural shift. Currently, social media marketing is a critical component in every company marketing toolkit. Social media platforms are now influential virtual spaces used for social networking and digitally advertising products and services and, more importantly, a space for brand building and customer engagement.
Photo by Sara Kurfeß
Digital adverting and promotion is the fastest growing profession that has created several new work categories. These include social media coordinator, content creator, data analyst, audio-visual editor and content writer. The most popular platforms for digital marketing are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. Understanding how to effectively deploy strategies on these various platforms is an essential digital skill for professionals in all types of companies and organisations that interface with customers.
Digital literacy and its attendant skills are essential for the 21st-century professional who will navigate an increasingly digital world. New skill sets and jobs are necessary to keep up with this explosion of technological advancement. Upskilling through short courses online and self-learning will go a far way in allowing young and old professionals to take advantage of the employment and entrepreneurial opportunities that have developed and will continue to emerge.