#Microsoft365 #MSIgnite – I recently delivered a session at Microsoft Ignite on Digital Literacy. This is something I’m super passionate about and I’d love to give you some background and explain my thought process. WARNING:  This will NOT be a 5 minute read.

For previous posts in my #Microsoft365Challenge go to the index. This content originally appeared as an article in the DIWUG Magazine (2017 edition).

First of all I need to explain how difficult it was to deliver this in a 20 minute session. Near impossible if you ask me. To anyone who attended my session(s), I hope this will give you more clarity.

Why am I so passionate about Digital Literacy?

Over the last 10 years I’ve been involved in Business Analysis, IT Support, SharePoint Development, Rapid Prototyping, Change Management, Governance and Training. I spent about 50% of my time training people and realised that I wasn’t getting the desired results with conventional training. Years ago I started including PC Literacy training (even though not appreciated by the people who I contracted for or the IT decision managers). Regardless of the resistance I kept on including this – and eventually included more soft skills and PC literacy training than expected. And yes, I’m even talking about Advanced SharePoint training.

I do believe that people will be more susceptible to change if they were more comfortable on the environments they already work on. The biggest mistake we make is to think that our employees are PC literate.


You know what PC Literacy is, you’ve heard of Digital Literacy and you’re aware that we find ourselves in the middle of the most beautiful, digitally disrupted cosmos. By now ‘failure to filter’ has permeated our lives, and we’ve had to become very selective on what consumes our precious time.

Research Digital Disruption and you’ll find thousands of articles giving advice on how to be digitally disruptive in the business world.

There is no stopping this. It’s our future. It’s MY future and I WANT to be part of it. I will not be left behind. I do have a concern though, I see a lot of ‘soldiers’ being left behind. I might be a ‘MicroSoftie’ at heart, seeing as I’m so passionate about this. I’m all for upgrading to the latest tech, moving to the cloud, allowing algorithms to dictate what’s important to me – but at some point, we need to take the necessary step back and focus on upgrading the humans too.

PC Literacy

Wikipedia tells us: “Computer Literacy is the ability to use computers and related technology efficiently, with a range of skills covering levels from elementary use to programming and advanced problem solving.”

“use computers and related technology efficiently”

Focus here should be on ‘efficiently’. This requires us to produce effectively with the minimum of waste, expense or unnecessary effort. Keeping that in mind I would not even call myself PC literate. How about you?

I’ve always known that including PC Literacy in my SharePoint training added value. It was difficult determining how much.

People believe statistics.

PC Literacy training is likely to have a major impact on productivity: this study reveals that those who have attended a course gain 33 minutes of productive time each day. Think about it, that’s roughly 6% of your Salaries and Wages bill monthly. I’m convinced we gain much more than that by enabling our users.

Digital Literacy

Now if PC Literacy requires us to efficiently use computers and related technology, where does that leave us on the topic of Digital Literacy?

What is Digital Literacy?

Digital literacy is the ability to effectively and critically navigate, evaluate and create information using a range of digital technologies. It requires one to recognize and use that power (Definitions.net).

Does Digital Literacy affect User Adoption?

A very good friend of mine, Kate Elphick sums it up perfectly. “People will adopt systems when they a) see the point, b) it’s easy to use and c) it makes them look & feel good.”

Users who are not digitally literate will feel frustrated with their inability to use the tools made available to them. ESPECIALLY if they don’t understand ‘the Why’. Help them understand ‘what’s in it for them’. Then help them develop the skill.

Academic research indicates that 91% of searchers do not go past page 1 of the search results and over 50% do not go past the first 3 results on page 1.

According to a McKinsey report, employees spend 1.8 hours every day—9.3 hours per week, on average—searching and gathering information. Source: Time Searching for Information.

19.8 per cent of business time – the equivalent of one day per working week – is wasted by employees searching for information to do their job effectively,” according to Interact. Source: A Fifth of Business Time is Wasted Searching for Information, says Interact.

Imagine showing users how to get their search results down from 17,000,000 to 1. Do you have any idea how much time that will save? Or how empowered they would feel??

Note:  Adding Apps and services will not fix your company culture or develop digital literacy on its own. We need to invest in our most important assets by supplying the basics around Digital (PC) Literacy. Once this is in place – the various Office 365 Apps / Services will help further develop and support the digital literacy of your users.

8 Pillars of Digital Literacy

By no means did I define these pillars or elements and many articles on the web confirm these and even deliver suitable variations. This Infographic helps to visually portray the range of skills required.


How does Microsoft / Office 365 support Digital Literacy?

Let’s take a closer look at these 8 pillars and how, if at all, Office 365 supports and enables these skills. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and many more examples can be added to help your business case or campaign.


WHAT:  The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.

HOW:  Creativity comes easy when we have the right tools for the job. Visual forecasting and charts in Excel, Smart Lookups and Researcher in Word, PowerPoint, Sway, Video, Stream, OneNote, Digital Inking in Office. Planner and Power BI gives you the ability to look at content with different eyes.


WHAT:  The action of working with someone to produce something.

HOW:  Your Intranet on SharePoint allows for a single view into content that is important to you. OneDrive and SharePoint Libraries allows for you to create and share content, co-author, create and restore versions. Use Smart Lookup and Researcher in Word to save time and be more efficient. Co-authoring in your Microsoft Office Apps – Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc. allows for seamless collaboration. OneNote, Planner, Teams & Groups again gives you the ability to work in teams, share content, manage tasks & events. Communicate with Yammer or Skype for Business to stay in touch and up to date.

Critical Thinking and Evaluation

WHAT:  The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue to form a judgement.

HOW:  Reach out to people using Skype for Business. Get the information WHEN and WHERE you need it. Use Yammer to learn more, broaden your knowledge base, find People, and the content that’s relevant to you on Delve. Outlook Analytics will help you use your time wisely. Using Excel, Access & Power BI gives us the opportunity to analyze data and in turn make better informed decisions. Planner or Project Online delivers a platform where we can have an overview of activities and objectives to help us manage risk. Calendar, Tasks, Flow & PowerApps gives us the ability to automate and manage items better.

Cultural & Social Understanding

WHAT:  Self-awareness as well respect of other cultures.

HOW:  Using Yammer & Skype for Business to reach out to people and share information, across the globe. Teams & Groups allows us to be part of something and be unified. People in Delve, SharePoint and Outlook allows us to find like minded people and learn more about others. Skype Translator breaks down walls and allows for relationships to be formed, where language was once a barrier.

Curate Information

WHAT:  Content curation is the process of gathering information relevant to a topic or area of interest.

HOW:  Use Wiki Pages & Blogs on SharePoint to share knowledge, posts on Yammer. Visio, Sway & PowerPoint allows us to create and share interactive reports, presentations, personal stories, and more. Present your work on Video or Stream.


WHAT:  The condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury (online).

HOW:  Tips and tricks on Yammer to help you be more aware and ‘tech-savvy’. Governance and Policies on our side to protect you where we can. A blog on SharePoint dedicated to E-safety where you can learn more and ask questions. Mail online, OneDrive & SharePoint will help by keeping your content safe.

Practical & Functional Skills

WHAT:  Practical: Of or concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas. Designed to be practical and useful

HOW:  Building PC & Digital Literacy skills through training, blogs, videos, posts on Yammer, Video, Stream. Skills built through Office 365 and SharePoint training.

Proficient Communicator

WHAT:  Communication is the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium. Proficient is to be competent or skilled in doing or using something.

HOW:  Use all the tools available to communicate better. Mail, Yammer, Skype for Business, Teams, Groups, Announcements, Blogs & Discussion Boards on SharePoint, Stream, Video and Sway. Use Smart Lookup and Researcher in Word to save time and be more efficient.


Purpose of this blog challenge:

I will write 365 blogs in 365 days around Microsoft 365. I did a similar challenge with Office 365, blogs can be found here. I won’t just be talking about the new Microsoft 365 subscription model. I will be sharing any news, tips and tricks around Office / Office 365 / Windows / Mobility and Security. And let’s not forget all the great new Apps & services available.  A lot of what I’ll share on Office and SharePoint will also be applicable to none “Office 365” versions.