What is your Digital Quotient? Transforming Work and Life

Rajesh Nair

In the early part of the last century, scientists and theoreticians were avidly pursuing research and theory on the human mind. More specifically, the attempt was to correlate mental abilities and eventual success in life. Success, as defined during those days, was material wealth, career, upper class social status et al.

The key output of the extensive research was defining the contours of IQ – Intelligence Quotient. As a metric it gained popularity especially in academic institutions and suddenly every other educational institution in the western world was having their kids ‘tested’ for IQ. Organised bodies like MENSA publicised it further, and there was tremendous chatter around it.

With changing realities, it is highly imperative that professionals and students of today understand the ‘Digital’ perspective of things, says Rajesh Nair

The next wave was when scientists, management experts and anthropologists added another dimension to the ‘pursuit of successes’. The strong opinion was that there is a social element which is critical to fame and glory. While no one contested the veracity of IQ and the fact that it is an ‘interesting’ metric, the larger dynamics of everyday life needed the common man to be attuned to the social fabric, open to people interactions and have the ability to work with his ‘emotional’ self.

EQ – Emotional Quotient – was born and Daniel Goleman and many others wrote seminal books and treatises on the subject. While EQ did not take the metric form in quantitative terms like IQ, it was widely figuring in the leadership and management competencies in the past two decades.

Then came the age of technological advances, disruptions of businesses, new revenue models and innovative asset sweating paradigms, and the flux in the business environment was palpable. ‘Digital’ is the catchphrase and has a larger meaning beyond ‘technology’. Digital is the complete transformation of our way of life and work. It is a potpourri of software, gazillion devices, the interconnected network and a host of exponential technologies that are connecting everything and everyone into one large invisible labyrinthine maze of relationships.

The rate of change has also redefined the basic tenets of what ‘long term’ is, and what ‘short term’ is. The strategic planning horizons have also changed. Management intuition, a cumulative precis of all our experiences, drives decision making; but movements on the business landscape in the recent past show that there is a significant shift in the very basis of our fundamental business options.

With changing realities, it is highly imperative that professionals and students of today understand the ‘Digital’ perspective of things. This is not just changing the ways in which business is done but also about the large shift in the way we work, communicate and think. In this context, an important question is – What is your Digital Quotient (DQ)? It represents your ability to understand the digital context, learn new ways of working, unlearn some of the seemingly archaic practices of the past and embrace the digital environment completely. Qualitatively, it means having an eye on the horizon, understanding disruptions, not just on the large business landscape but in your respective work domains.

It is a no-brainer that some of the routine work will see ‘Bots’ and robotic process automation bringing in efficiencies. So skilling yourself and thinking meticulously are the needs of the hour and the moot question to ask yourself is – how will you differentiate your DQ to manage your businesses and your career?

(The author is Director-Markets, Kerala & Tamil Nadu, EY and President, TiE Kerala)