Human impact in the digital era
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. —Alvin Toffler
As a channel agnostic marketer (I know I am saying this as a digital strategist but I have worn many hats and I see everything through the lens of my first job, as a music promoter, which is basically content and influencer brand marketing but with a volume button) one of the hot topics across mainstream news media is not whether technology can do this or do that but the human impact.
Many of the themes we cover, share and discuss within IFAB are about learning; from AI data-lake requirements to shop associate digital device training. This hot topic of human impact, required skills set development and access to learning can come with a lot of assumptions. Here are a few we see in the outside world. This gender is better at digital than that gender. Gen X is not as good at digital as Gen Y. People in Country A are more digitally innovative than Country B or C. However, the essential element of all these perspectives can be reduced down into not gender, geographical or generational difference but the individual’s ability to learn, unlearn and relearn.
This fourth (or is it fifth?) industrial revolution has the capacity to leave many of those individuals behind, into the digital-haves and digital-have-nots. The human impact of not opening knowledge to the masses is going to have dire consequences across engagement, resource hiring, prospecting and procurement and the potential loss of great technological ideas for the want of amassing a fan base to make it viable.
One of my roles within IFAB is to disseminate information and make it usable, attributable, understandable and valuable to the community. This requires a huge amount of unlearning and relearning every single day. It is akin to being a semi-professional athlete. A versatile digital athlete, who tries to master a number of different skills every week, not only constantly recalibrating knowledge and application streams but also how that evolves into performance. I can only do this if technology companies give me access to their training facilities: the why, the what and the how.
So, if there are fashtech companies out there reading this, do not only allow the download of your whitepapers, research, onboarding documents and other learning tools to those with ‘company’ emails. In a world of the gig-economy the super-pollinators, the digital nomads, the WeWorkers, the Wingers who use Gmail, Hotmail, WeChat in their daily professional lives cannot access your digital nectar and take it with them to a potentially fertile opportunity for your business. Digital vendors need to unlearn and relearn their business model of sharing information. Open source is not just about technology but also about an approach. Think about it as a cool collab with creators rather than a sales channel opportunity with big box retailers and you will be potentially playing to a whole new fan base.
Gill Kingston, Digital Strategist, Marketing and Communications Director. IFAB Contributor.