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Digital Literacy – The Key to Canada’s Future Productivity




In the Tuesday June 8th business section of the Globe and Mail there was a feature section titled The Canadian Telecom Summit. It was an interesting pull out. Having worked for many years in the Telecom industry I spent some time reading through the section.

Buried in the pullout was a very interesting article about Digital Literacy.

What was most fascinating about the article was the analysis of recent research that clearly showed that a large part of Canada’s productivity gap is directly linked to levels of digital literacy amongst Canadian businesses. Dr. Len Waverman the Dean of the University of Calgary’s Business School summarized some recent findings on the Connectivity Scorecard 2010.

Dr. Waverman summed up the findings on digital literacy…and I quote from the Globe and Mail…

“Digital literacy is not simply using a smartphone or typing on a computer. It really is a mindset. Are businesses of all sizes using technology to its fullest extent? Are they restructuring to take account of the digital way of doing things? Are their products web-enabled in the proper way,” he stated…”Canada’s gap in digital literacy is tied to its poor productivity performance. The average firm has held back using ICT and adopting it appropriately,” he stated.

Dr. Waverman poses an interesting question. “Is it a managerial issue?” He does not have the answer and reserves judgment pending further research.

My own sense, from selling complex technology for close to 16 years, is that people don’t buy or implement things they don’t understand. Doesn’t matter if they get a tax break, although that helps, but at the end of the day its whether they can get their heads around the complexities of the solution and the ROI around that solution.

Dr. Waverman is right when he states, “digital literacy needs to be a key strategy. As Canada’s borders become more open, our survival will depend on it.”

When I speak to other software companies its clear that I am not the only one that feels digital literacy is a critical issue for Canadian businesses. I am just not sure how we will address and correct the digital literacy gap. Any ideas?

Categories: ecommerce, EDI