Are You Highly Digital? Try This Test

Ipad Face by Camila Andrea In a Harvard Business Review blog post discussed last week by Mark Schaefer, authors Jeffrey Rayport and Tuck Rickards asserted that most big companies are too far behind the digital curve. By their standards, only nine of the Fortune 500 corporations are highly digital.

That’s no surprise. But what interests me is the four-part test they use to assess companies. Could it be adapted to individuals as a way of testing their own digital chops, I wonder?

The authors’ four criteria for highly digital companies are pretty straightforward:

  1. The company generates a high percentage of revenues digitally.
  2. Its leadership has deep digital experience.
  3. It does business enabled by digital channels.
  4. It is seen as transformational within its industry.

I’m not sure Rayport and Rickards sufficiently explain these criteria, but it doesn’t matter. My concern here is with adapting these four tests to individuals—and particularly to editors and journalists.

So let’s say, then, that you can consider yourself highly digital if you meet the following versions of their four characteristics:

  1. Most of the work you do appears in digital form either first or exclusively. Most of what you earn you only earn because your copy appeared online.
  2. You generate your work on your own, with little need for assistance, using a variety of digital tools. You manage your CMS yourself, you are equally comfortable tweeting and posting on Facebook, you even adjust code occasionally.
  3. Your work is uniquely digital in nature. In other words, you are not simply producing second-stage shovelware, but genuinely digital content, shaped to take full advantage of its digital medium.
  4. The people you work with look to you as a model of digital competence. Others come to you not just for help using WordPress or sizing an image, but also for advice on their new-media careers.

You may be wondering, “Is all this necessary? Why do I need to determine how digital I am?”

The answer, for me, is similar to what Schaefer says about companies: “social media success is not going to be a function of marketing vision or budget. It’s going to rely on radical organizational transformation.”

Likewise, for traditional journalists, the only way to ensure a healthy career in the new-media era is to undergo a radical professional transformation. My proposed test doubtless needs work—please pitch in with suggestions or improvements in the comments below or elsewhere—but its intent is sound.

Are you highly digital? If you’re not certain of the answer, maybe it’s time to find out.

Photo by Camila Andrea via Flickr

3 thoughts on “Are You Highly Digital? Try This Test

  1. Um… start a blog?

    Seriously, though, if you are truly a digital ace, I don’t think you have an employability or revenue-potential problem as much as a marketing problem. That’s especially true if your background is traditional. You’ll have to work hard to identify your skills in that case, since the usual reaction is to pigeonhole you as a “print person.” Unfortunately, self-marketing doesn’t come easily to many journalists and editors–but it is an essential skill to develop in the new-media era.

  2. I see now that I misread JC’s comment. So let me try again:

    On the assumption that your company merely failed the test, and you still have a job, you have only two options (perhaps to be pursued simultaneously): First, try to change your company. Second, and more likely to see success, try to find another, more digital company to work for (or start your own).

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