Digital Readiness: designing a model for the future

February 26, 2020 Tina Pilipović

Digitalization and job automation are part of what is fast becoming known as the fourth industrial revolution. One thing is clear; the new digital workplace requires a new set of competencies.

digital working


Digitalization and job automation are part of what is fast becoming known as the fourth industrial revolution. The dramatic work changes we are witnessing are increasing business complexity, driving a need for a new type of leader and impacting organizations’ job architectures. Certainly, some jobs will disappear, others will change, and others still will be created.

One thing is clear; the new digital workplace requires a new type of workforce that can upskill - or reskill - as needed. And to do this effectively, a new set of competencies is needed.

What Is Digital Readiness?

We define digital readiness as individual’s ability and willingness to navigate the digital world and to successfully perform and feel comfortable in a digital environment. It is about being able to adapt to ever-changing technologies and leveraging the advantages they offer.  

Despite the change in the behaviors and abilities that drive success in the workplace, there has been little research into how to define these competencies, which we refer to as digital. Traditional competency frameworks, created to support traditional job architectures and talent strategies, tend not to emphasize the behaviors and abilities needed in a digital workplace, and there are very few studies which look at how these competencies relate to job performance.

The Aon Model of Digital Readiness Competencies

Our model of digital readiness has been developed over a number of years. It is a set of competencies needed for the digital age, bringing together the three core competencies of learnability, agility and curiosity with eight supplemental competencies. We measure against these digital competencies with personality dimensions from our ADEPT-15® questionnaire and by using a cognitive ability assessment of executive attention. Once the model and the measurement were in place, we looked to validate it against job performance.

Our Study

We took a meta-analytical approach to seven criterion-related validation studies which together included over 5,000 participants across both government and private sector organizations.

The results showed that there were significant correlations between the digital competencies as defined in our model and relevant job performance composites. In summary, our model was able to predict success in a role.

Watch the webinar to learn more about our research, the findings and use cases and experience in action.

Improving Predictive Validity of the Model

Data from this validation study was used to inform an updated mapping of the ADEPT-15® dimensions to the digital readiness competencies, with an aim of maximizing the predictive validity for job performance by implementing small changes to the mapping of supplemental digital readiness competencies, we managed to improve the validity scores even further.

Future Research. Where Do We Go From Here?

In this study we wanted to understand how the competencies, identified as needed to succeed in a digital world of work, link to job performance. We were able to validate a defined model of digital competencies that can help benchmark an individual’s readiness to work effectively in the future world of work.

Going forward, it would be interesting to explore the relative importance of digital competencies in tech-based companies as opposed to more traditional organizations. Future research could also look at the relationship between an organization’s readiness for change and that of an individual.

If you would like to explore how you can identify digital talent, build digital competence and future-proof your teams, please get in touch.

About the Author

Tina Pilipović

Tina Pilipovic is a product solutions consultant within Aon's Assessment Solutions. She combines her psychology background, experience in solutioning of complex global projects at proposition stage and Digital Readiness expertise to develop innovative and future-proof solutions that successfully tackle both today's and tomorrow's challenges.

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