As digital technology plays a more central role in daily life, the movement to make code literacy a basic part of education and ultimately a commonly used tool in business is gaining momentum. What if we were to expand our notion of literacy to encompass not only human language but also computer language? Could a widespread ability to read and write code come to be as normal in the workplace as the ability to speak and write a language?

Instagram‘s CEO, Kevin Systrom, has recently evolved as one of the greatest Silicon Valley success stories. Unlike Mark Zuckerberg, the man responsible for acquiring the popular photo sharing app for $1 billion, Systrom received no formal engineering training. Systrom is a self-taught programmer. While working in the marketing department at Nextstop, which Facebook acquired in 2010, he spent his evenings learning to program.

Think about the future world of work. The potential for innovation would be many times greater if every student had a firm grasp of programming concepts and how to apply them. Look at the new innovations of the past 10 years, and you can see that coding is destined to become a new form of widespread literacy as the world of work is becoming focused on a digital capacity to deliver products and services. Those who don’t know how to code may end up being in the same position as those who can’t read or write.

The code literacy movement began in 2011, when CodeAcademy ( started teaching basic programming skills for free. A no-cost, on-line capability to learn code may very well be the catalyst to give future job searchers a new skill set to differentiate themselves from their peers.

Just as a child tends to learn multiple languages easier than an adult, coding may very well become a fundamental skills set and a prerequisite to being functional in the business world. Watch a 5 old child play with an iPhone and you’ll see them intuitively using interaction patterns that adults often have trouble with, even when they’re computer-literate. Kids can easily memorize huge quantities of facts about complex abstract systems, so it stands to reason that they have the potential to learn how to code.

However, the human capacity to learn is not what will determine the future of coding literacy in the work place. If coding becomes necessary to interact with a computer and deliver a product or service, then you will likely learn to code. It is no different than if you were dropped off in Thailand without a translator. Out of necessity, you’d learn the local language.

Success going forward in the employment marketplace will be primarily determined by your marketability and remarkability. With the job market evolving like a fast moving target, your employability will be closely linked to how you can stand out among your competitors, deliver relevant skills and how well you anticipate what will be in demand.

Kevin Systrom graduated in 2006 from Stanford University with a B.S. in Management and cofounded Instagram in 2010. Today at age 28 he’s worth an estimated $400 million. Perhaps being bi-lingual in speaking and coding will offer you a competitive edge and a reputation as a strategic thinker with life skills that will ensure your long-term employment security in a digital world.