Originally published at malachithompson.com

We are floating on an ocean of information. It is the result of a world that at first connected to the Internet and then networked out under the social media platforms. We now are seeing the business community going digital every day. It can be both exciting and frightening at the same time. No matter how any leader feels about it, he or she cannot ignore digital technology. It is going to determine who succeeds and who fails in the months to come.

Digital technology is everywhere and cannot be ignored. Leaders should understand social media concepts as well as the jargon from Google AdWords.

A leader has to have more than a cocktail conversation understanding of the digital world. It is imperative this person know how to use the technology best to achieve goals and objectives.

The Age Difference

A critical reason for better awareness deals with the demographic divide. Young employees grew up with technology and are very familiar with it. Middle-aged employees may not have such sophistication. The digital world has proven time and again that it promotes and increases efficiency, but merely hiring young employees is not going to be of much help. There are still workers who, although older, can be just as critical to delivering quality. A leader has to provide them with the opportunities to learn more about digital technology and how to best use these innovations. Leaders who are conversant in the digital language and its use can help create a culture of collaboration, which also promotes innovation.

Better Engagement

Employee engagement is something every leader wants, and there are tools to help greater collaboration. Ideas and files can be shared in Evernote or Baseline. Feedback can be easily obtained with Office vibe, and there are other digital platforms to enhance the efforts of a team of people. Leaders could look at these and realize formal staff meetings are outdated. Technology permits almost immediate updating so that everyone is aware of how a project is moving forward. Input can also be gleaned from team members. These people might be in remote areas and offices. There is no need to have everybody come together in a conference room once a month. Suggestions for improvements can be received at any time. The same is true for enhancing ongoing projects.

Better, Higher Quality, Leadership

The greatest gift digital technology provides for management is changing leadership styles. The evolving workplace is not suitable for old-fashioned bureaucracy. Leaders must think more like entrepreneurs. Outdated delivery cycles go the way of the world as technology permits higher quality delivered with tighter deadlines. Leadership can be a little bit more flexible because contact with team members and subordinates is much easier. Moreover, thanks to platforms like Evernote, everybody is on the same page every step of the way. Problems can be identified either by the leader alone or by subordinates. The transparency is proactive and produces better results.

Digital technology offers opportunities never seen before. Communication and marketing are enhanced with social media platforms. Leaders who have become adept at digital technology can recognize which social media platforms are the best for their given product or service. The recent election demonstrates how Twitter can make an enormous difference, bypassing other media outlets and going directly to a dedicated customer base. Given the fast pace of innovation and invention in the current marketplace, we can expect that even more useful technologies to appear. Leaders who are already working with a digital mindset are going to be able to adapt quickly to any change.

The ability to change is the skill this digital technology offers. It is a value essential to success in the global marketplace. Things are going to change rapidly, and we are sometimes talking days or weeks instead of months or years. Google Analytics is just one example of the ability to process mountains of data in a matter of minutes. Decisions are going to be made even quicker than before.

The message for all leaders is basic: don’t fight it. Digital technology is here to stay, and it will impact the business world well and in the future. Those leaders who make a commitment to become more conversant in the jargon and the practices of newer technology are going to benefit tremendously.