Digitization is no longer just an issue for the technology industry. Although the Digitization Index 2021/22 sees technology-driven sectors such as logistics ahead, companies in other sectors are also pursuing a digital strategy as in previous years.
Today, sectors with predominantly analog operating processes, such as the construction industry, are increasingly using IT-supported tools such as a digital construction diary to streamline operations. But what are the prerequisites for digitization to succeed? How do you prepare such an essential step for a company toward the future? At its core, this is about the question of a successful digital strategy. What this could look like, especially for medium-sized companies, often remains unclear or unanswered.
Digital Strategy: Answering The Question Of “Why” And “When”
More efficient processes, more productivity, motivated employees, lower costs – the numerous documented benefits of digitization already adequately answer the “why.” Especially in economically difficult and uncertain times, digitization cannot only mean a competitive advantage but also ensure the business’s survival. Nevertheless, it is worth first considering how digitization could look in practice. And what are the concrete advantages for a company? Here, for example, these questions arise:
- What will it look like when employees work together in the cloud?
- How do HR processes work after reporting procedures by telephone, fax, or e-mail and Excel list have been switched to a self-service portal? And now it can be done by the employees themselves?
- For example, could an intranet FAQ section and chatbot answer typical frequently asked questions from employees?
- Where and how should human resources continue to be available as a point of contact for advice?
- What are the advantages of new processes made possible by digitization?
Entry Into A Digital Strategy
Such considerations make it easier to get started with digital transformation and answer the question of how and where digitization can be implemented most easily or bring the most significant gains in efficiency. The “when” can be answered quickly and unequivocally: waiting is not the best option if you don’t want to be left behind in the competition. The corona pandemic has shown that digitally well-positioned companies can usually react more quickly to unexpected changes. For example, if it is possible to conduct staff interviews via video conference.
Determine The Digital Boss – And Buy External Expertise
Digital transformation is a worthwhile task. According to Deutsche Telekom’s digitization index, all medium-sized companies surveyed were able to increase their sales by at least 38 percent last year with the help of digital processes, and the top ten digital pioneers even by almost 75 percent. To be successful, digitization needs full attention from the first step. Ideally, a digital boss, for example, is appointed a CDO (Chief Digital Officer). Here it is advisable to entrust this task to someone who has already digitized a company. Or at least implemented individual digital projects or at least brought along IT expertise.
If there is a lack of digital skills in the company, it is worth bringing the appropriate specialists on board. Or to obtain this expertise from outside. With external consultants, however, it is essential to ensure that they also have proven expertise in the application area in which the digital project is being carried out – for example, in the human resources area.
Think Holistically And Get Everyone On Board
It would be a mistake to regard digitization only as a topic for the IT department or the department concerned. Digitization affects the entire company. It is, therefore, essential to include all employees in the preliminary strategic considerations right from the start. A core team with representatives from all company areas ensures that all relevant points of view are considered in the planning.
Motivate People – And Use Them As Ambassadors
Digitization is naturally about technology and software, but these can only develop their potential if people are involved. Example: The new efficient HR tool is idle if nobody uses the self-service features. The cloud is of little help if nobody saves and maintains their projects, but most continue to manage data locally.
In every company, some employees are open to digital technologies and are more cautious about technological changes. It is, therefore, the right strategy to get digitally savvy employees on board for a start. You can then help others as ambassadors and promote an open-minded atmosphere towards digitization. When the first changes and tools have proven themselves in practice with time savings and happier employees, it becomes easier to convince the more skeptical colleagues.
Digitization Helps To React To Unexpected Situations
“The past few years have shown that digitization can help to react more flexibly to unexpected situations. Therefore, companies of all sizes should develop a digital strategy to prepare better for the future. It is important that this is not only the task of top management but that everyone in the company pitches in and pulls together across departments. A cross-departmental, interdisciplinary approach is essential. At its core, it is about creating synergies to implement strategic projects like these as efficiently as possible. In this way, decision-makers and those responsible set the necessary strategic course for the successful digitization of their company right from the start.”
This is especially true for the millions of small and medium-sized businesses Sage and its partners serve. Customers rely on the company’s IT systems, which ensure more transparency and more flexible and efficient processes in accounting, company, and human resources management. Our digital network brings small and medium-sized businesses closer by digitizing business processes and relationships with customers, suppliers, employees, banks, and authorities.