Digital Leadership – Onboarding Technologies into Organizational Culture

There are a lot of digital champions within today’s higher education landscape. And, some of these champions are leaders. They tend to show, rather than tell, how technology can be used within a variety of contexts.

Being a digital leader requires an understanding of leadership fundamentals as well as a big picture view of existing technologies. Leading and learning in the digital world requires nuance, experience, and a willingness to try new things.

Social media, predictive analytics, information systems/portals, virtual/augmented reality content/hardware, mobile apps, early warning systems, cloud-based services…the list of technologies that intersect with digital leadership is practically endless.

When you’re a digital leader, there’s an inherent vulnerability in making decisions that impact your organization using technologies that may or may not have a long history of effectiveness.

Digital leadership is all about experimentation, creativity, and innovation.

A leader’s attitude towards technology can have a ripple effect. Role modeling the use of digital in unique and beneficial ways, leaders can show what’s possible and inspire others in their use of technology. Something as simple as using social media on a regular basis to connect and engage with students can have a transformative effect. It’s hard to say “we can’t do that” when your leader is leading a digital charge.

Organizational Culture

Organizations are made up of people who make decisions that end up dictating the incorporation of new tech on a daily basis. The culture of a place (or space for online / distributed orgs) is a barrier or an open door for bringing in new technologies into an institution.

Oftentimes, it is a leader’s digital capability (and confidence) that determines whether or not an organization adopts a new technology-driven practice.

By 2020, more than 50% of your workforce will be millennials who use technology to work smarter, faster, and better.

When an organization’s core culture is predicated on an attitude of always learning, anything is possible. Digital is people. Organizations that aren’t afraid of technology will always thrive.

Onboarding New Technologies

Organizational culture is everything for onboarding new technologies. The most important aspect of incorporating new technology into an organization is communication. Most issues with new digital initiatives stem from people not feeling like they are a part of the process.

Getting people on board by way of transparency, vision, and motivation is a must.

Why is the organization using this new technology? How does it help make things better? What problem does it solve?

Answering the “why” will always make for a much smoother process. Couple a digitally savvy leader with an enthusiastic organizational culture and technology will be seen as an asset.

Finally, new technologies should be part of the motivation fabric of an organization. Change up job descriptions, reorganize teams, hire for new digital capabilities, etc. People have to see the connection to their work/role in the elevation and implementation of a new technology-based solution.

For example, it’s not just “we have to use social media.” It’s “how do we use social media in educationally relevant ways that enhance the student experience” and then connect goals, plans, outcomes, and strategy to the mix.

Onboarding new technologies may involve some stops and starts, some dissonance…and that’s okay. Remember, focus on what you and your organization are trying to accomplish and technology becomes just another essential aspect…not a novel or bright and shiny thing, but an essential element of the organization.

This post was sponsored by SAP as part of a higher education influencers collaboration.

Additional posts in this series:
Digital Engagement – How Technology Enhances the Student Experience

Student Success, Retention, and Employability – Getting Digital in a High Tech, High Touch Environment

Learning and Connecting on the Go – How Mobile Technologies are Changing Higher Education

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