Building Calgary’s Digital Intelligence

Lee Ackerman, Director, Digital Strategy @ SAIT’s School for Advanced Digital Technology

People have always been Calgary’s strength, and as we reimagine, reignite and reinvent, this will continue to be true. As the School for Advanced Digital Technology (SADT), we teach and empower people to thrive, create and lead in our digital society. Belief in this purpose drives us.

Through this purpose and working together, we can move the needle in helping Calgary thrive as a digital society. In such a society, empowered people are at the core, and their efforts are positively amplified by technology. This amplification impacts our economy, how we learn, maintaining our health, sparking our passions, our connections to one another, and how we grow!

No so long ago, as a pre-digital society, we focused on knowing things and IQ. Today, we can look up anything, anytime and from anywhere. We can see and feel that a focus on just knowing things and IQ has passed us by — it isn’t enough to keep pace or have an impact. In response, we’ve focused on adding other types of intelligence to the mix. One type of intelligence that gained prominence was EQ, or emotional intelligence. Connecting, collaborating, and teaming with others requires us to understand emotions and have “people smarts”.

This combination of IQ and EQ provides us with a bigger and better toolset, and they were sufficient for the time, but they are falling short as technology has become a ubiquitous part of our lives. The combination of IQ + EQ doesn’t equip us with the literacies, readiness, skills, maturities or attitudes needed for our current situation — we need a different type of intelligence that is oriented toward our emerging digital society.

We’re at a critical point of time — a time of change, challenge and reimagination. To highlight this change, we key and reinforce the idea of being a "digital" society. We all have to orient our attention to the part that is changing. Digital is seeping into all aspects of our life. Soon, everything will have digital underpinnings and we’ll transition from “digital” society to just society. Navigating this change, to the benefit of all, is urgent. We have a lot of work to get done. Digital is going to be everywhere, and to thrive, create and lead, we are going to need to enhance our digital intelligence.

Digital Intelligence, abbreviated as DQ, is the world’s first and only global standard framework (IEEE 3527) focused on guiding all of us to understand the skills, knowledge, attitudes, values and maturity levels needed for us to “be digital.” A good place to start in understanding DQ is to consider its maturity levels: Citizen, Creator and Competitor.

  • Citizen, the base maturity level, focuses on digital engagement in safe, responsible, healthy and ethical ways.
  • Creator, the next maturity level, focuses on creating new knowledge, building new technologies and turning ideas into reality.
  • Competitor, the third and highest maturity level, focuses on solving big challenges at the enterprise, community or global level.

At each maturity level, DQ details digital engagement areas, including Identity, Safety, Security, EQ, Communication, Literacy, Rights and Use. Each digital engagement area provides a simple, directional goal and also detailed competencies.

  • Goals are captured as short statements, reminding and reinforcing values and respect. The EQ and literacy areas guide us to respect others and knowledge, providing modern views on knowledge (IQ) and our digital people smarts (EQ). As we become digital, we need to have respect for oneself (identity), time and environment (use), life (safety), property (security), reputation and relationships (communication), and rights (rights!).
  • Competencies detail the knowledge, skills and attitudes we’ll need to succeed. The guidance within each competency guides us toward ethics, respect, safety, wellbeing and sustainability.

This focus on the humanity of digital is critically important, as it would be easy to get lost in the technology, the bits, the bytes, and the machinery. We cannot overemphasize the fundamental idea that being digital is about people, society and humanity . Digital technologies amplify our humanity.

As a society, we are more than just individuals. We are connected. We thrive together. The big win comes not from embracing DQ individually, but by doing so collectively. DQ is critically important for all of us within Calgary’s Digital Talent Ecosystem . We are connected to one another in creating our digital society.

Having a shared language and view on how to grow our digital maturity lets us innovate. A shared foundation lets us figure out curriculums. A common view on capabilities provides value to credentials and past experiences, making it easier to find career opportunities, to recruit talent and to determine where and when to invest in building our talents.

DQ sits at the core and foundation of our thinking and efforts at SADT. This foundation is then part of a larger vertical, connected view that brings together mindset and perspectives, technologies, domains and achievements. This digital “stack” is instrumental in our efforts to teach and empower people to thrive, create and lead in our digital society. A perspective that focuses only on people, or only on technology, or only in a domain, is bound to fail – a holistic, connected view is the path to success. As a citizen, creator or competitor, we can enter a stack at any layer. But to truly “be digital”, we need to consider the entire digital stack.

  • Mindset and perspectives build on DQ, emphasizing ethics, privacy and transparency as we engage with digital, considerations and guidelines for how we collect, consider, analyze and use data, and prioritizes agility, growth and being a change-agent.
  • Technologies, our third layer, amplify the people — people who have been guided and empowered by DQ and mindsets and perspectives. Here we explore one or more of AI (Artificial Intelligence), XR (extended reality), Data, Automation, 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing, Cloud and IoT (Internet of Things).
  • Domains, our fourth layer in the digital stack, focuses on connecting people, technology and where we can have an impact. An impact area could be finance, healthcare, cities, energy, industry, hospitality and tourism, education or agriculture.
  • Achievements and recognition of progress represent the fifth and top layer of the digital stack. We can offer recognized achievements via certificates, diplomas, degrees, micro-credentials, or even prizes won at hackathons.

We invite you to connect, collaborate and be a part of building our digital talent ecosystem — and as you do, consider your own DQ, your strengths, your gaps and your ambitions. With those in mind, we can learn, grow and build our digital society – together!


About the author: Lee Ackerman

Director, Digital Strategy @ SAIT’s School for Advanced Digital Technology

Lee is a Digital leader and a Learning strategist. By bringing together both Digital and Learning expertise, he is playing a key role in building the school’s programming, framing its strategy and igniting Digital Citizenship conversations.

Lee brings a wealth of digital experience, having spent the last 20 years creating, transforming, learning, exploring, inventing, sharing and educating. His e xperience and impact with major technology and consulting firms such as IBM and Deloitte are complemented by start-up and boutique consulting endeavors.

Lee has built digital solutions and seen first-hand the challenges of getting from idea to impact . Building on these foundations, Lee has advised and guided organizations across North America, Europe and Asia in planning and executing their digital strategies and transformations. His thoughtfulness, insights and experiences are evident in his books, patents and conference presentations. Lee holds a Master’s in Educational Technology and has an inexhaustible passion for learning and all things digital.







Enter Your Search Term Here
Start typing to search SAIT.ca