by Sharon Florentine

How C-Level Execs Can Learn to Speak Digital

Sep 04, 20144 mins
Business IT AlignmentCareersIT Leadership

A one-day class promises to teach digital literacy and break down the 'language barrier' between IT and business executives.

digital training
Credit: Thinkstock

When executives and IT teams aren’t speaking the same language, projects fail, time and money are wasted, and collaboration and productivity suffer. But Decoded is looking to help overcome the “language barrier” and enhance collaboration between IT teams and C-level executives through one-day digital literacy classes.

Overcoming the Tech Language Barrier

Having at least a working knowledge of the digital world, data and code is now an essential skill for C-level executives, but too many are floundering, says Decoded CEO Liz Lukas. Not only are these executives failing to grasp the critical concepts and knowledge of the new digital era, but they don’t know where to go to attain this knowledge, she says.

“One of our clients said, ‘I’m one sentence away from being found out in a meeting. I have no idea what I’m talking about, and if my teams knew how clueless I was, it would be a big problem,'” Lukas says.

“There are two main market issues Decoded addresses: the shift to the digital space by everything from commerce to applications to communications, and the lack of available time for learning the ins-and-outs of this new digital reality,” Lukas says.

Instant Applications

To conquer these challenges and empower both C-level executives and their IT teams, Decoded offers three core one-day workshops to bridge the gap and overcome the language barrier between these passionate, committed developer communities and give executives the comprehension and confidence to apply their knowledge to the business immediately, says Lukas.

[Related: Why Developers Need Finishing School]

Code_in a Day is an introduction to code designed to go under the hood and show executives how developers build and power the digital world, says Lukas. This workshop, she says, delves into the processes and complexities developers face and gives a deeper an understanding of how developers work, she says. Part of this course also lets executives build their own mobile application to get a hands-on experience.

Data_in a Day is focused on demystifying big data, says Lukas, and allows executives to access data, derive insights and then present that data in a visual way, she says.

[Related: How to Build a Software Developer Talent Pipeline]

Future_Technologies in a Day discusses the intersection of code, data and the Internet of Things, says Lukas. Executives learn how open-source code, data and hardware are combined to create technology. The course also allows execs to dismantle Internet of Thing devices and re-imagine them in a new way to really get a feel for how these devices function in a digital world, Lukas says.

In addition, Decoded offers a CodeEd program aimed at educators to help them teach code and related skills in a classroom setting; the goal being to address the lack of STEM education in early and elementary education.

Beyond Advertising and Marketing

Though originally targeted to executives in the advertising and marketing community, Lukas says she quickly learned just how prevalent the issue was.

“The advertising and marketing space was one of the pioneers in the digital space, so it made sense to start there,” she says. “But this is a ubiquitous issue. CIOs, CFOs, CEOs, COOs are all trying to decipher the digital world and are rethinking their business, but without an understanding of the vocabulary used by IT and developers, and without knowing how IT and digital concepts and practices fit together within the business,” she says. Without a lot of time to attend courses or master these topics on their own, many C-level execs were faking it, she says, with lackluster results.

[Related: How to Use Agile Development to Avoid Project Failures]

“What these programs do is give executives the foundation for better strategic conversations. If they have a better understanding of how coding and data process work, realistic expectations of their speed and their power, then they have context in which to make business decisions – and that provides greater opportunity for innovation,” Lukas says.

A Win for Both Sides

And the benefits go both ways, Lukas says. IT teams may find a greater sense of relief and less pressure to do the impossible once their senior-level leaders understand how they function day-to-day, she says.

“There’s a huge sense of relief from the IT and developer teams, too, because they no longer have to educate and evangelize some of the technology they’re using and explain the processes they must go through to get there, they can just focus on doing their jobs,” she says.