The Digital Divide – Bridging stark realities

The pandemic opened some stark realities. Education access is a big concern area that highlights the digital divide across rural and urban areas. However, products and services such as medicine, banking, groceries are accessible via the internet even when lockdowns of varying magnitudes are imposed.

Accounting for more than 80% of the businesses worldwide, SMEs revealed a remarkable insight as the pandemic established a digital divide. Organizations were thrust into a drastically altered business environment where in-store on-premises interactions were limited or non-existent. The consumer experience available was the digital experience.

Midsection of colleagues holding digital tablet and book while sitting on steps

This led to an acceleration in the demand for digital transformation. It threw light on the need for a comprehensive strategy to address the changing needs of all customers, employees, and channels. Corporate leaders realized that an end-to-end digital strategy was the need of the hour.

What exactly is the Workplace Digital Divide?

It can be phrased as the gap that exists between companies at the forefront of technology and others who lag in the adoption of technology or have not made adequate investments in it. This gap affects employee productivity and business outcomes as well as the motivational level of employees and teams.

Post the pandemic, the overnight switch to a remote working environment widened while IT frameworks got stretched to the limits. It is imperative in the present scenario to recognize specific aspects of the digital strategy of the business and its impact on employees and the organization itself.

Narrowing the gap

Apart from the challenges of introducing technology in the organization, costs and culture change need to be addressed. Where technology infrastructure is visible, decisions can be based on ‘proactive’ and ‘must have’. The proactive approach enables the organization to stay ahead of the curve. The workplace digital divide is not about just devices and laptops. It is more on organizational failure to steer towards digital pathways for better communication, quality of delivery, and improved collaboration.

Why bridging the digital divide does matter?

Employees working in companies that are technology challenged are definitely more prone to be frustrated with the setup. They could be motivated to quit or display signs of discontent. Employee output variation can be visible.

Employees want management to realize how they work and how they would want to work. They would want to be enabled to perform better at their jobs and handle challenges with ease.

However, organizations add to the angst by demanding creativity and innovation. The absence of resources and access to tools to support such demands creates gaps in employee engagement and productivity. Legacy applications, slow or outdated technology and programs, lack of a bring-your-own-device policy are such examples.

Preparing for a future where digitalization matters

It is obvious today that a positive social structure can be linked to workplace engagement, collaboration, and employee growth. Employees understand and render these connections well enough. Organizations that are not technologically progressive in their policies eliminate the potential benefits of productivity and relationship-building tools. This has forced many companies that were not already underway in their digital transformation to definitely be on the journey today. Digitalization trends and demands have also become the unspoken expectation today. The ecosystem of employees, partners, customers, and consumers will expect even greater levels of digitalization.

Smaller organizations will have a more daunting task ahead while competing with bigger players. Bridging the digital divide is the only step ahead. The implementation and usage of ERP or other software platforms can garner efficiencies in operations, drive productivity levels and other business capabilities needed to survive and thrive in the years ahead.

The public administration needs to play a part as well. Smart cities are a good initiative that needs to see fruition. Digitalization can conquer literacy barriers and make an impact on infrastructure support services at nationwide levels.

It’s time to build bridges where it makes a difference.

The author Dhara Shah is Chief Marketing Officer at Allied Digital Services