Digitization — between an axe and a mobile app

It is significant and at the same time worrying that only half (48%) of the surveyed entrepreneurs believe that new technologies allow them to work faster; even fewer (31%) are aware that digitization saves money, increases profits, and increases efficiency

The use of computers and the internet in organizing a company’s work has become so self-evident that few people still ask Why? and How?, but the successful business patterns have not changed. Money must be spent rationally, and it has to work — whether you spend it to buy axes for your employees or to provide them with smartphones for work.

However, it is obvious that the technological approach changes attitudes and ways of thinking. It is difficult for older generations to accept the much lighter attitude of their younger colleagues towards working hours and schedules, and work discipline as such, although modern technology often allows workers to perform work properly while at home, on the beach, and abroad.

In short, nowadays it seems redundant to explain the necessity of business digitization. Kantar TNS study shows that for the most of the entrepreneurs the decision of the company’s digitization is sufficient by the arguments that all have computers (67%) and they are familiar (54%). That means the question Why? is simply circumvented, though the computer and the internet are tools that a particular company can use in a variety of ways, of which only a selection will be relevant.

Therefore, for a business person who treats both their employees and their money with respect, digitization for its own sake is not and should not be a sufficient argument to invest tens, hundreds, or thousands of euros in the refurbishment of computer systems, software, and security systems and the digitization of the company as a whole.

It is significant and at the same time worrying that only half (48%) of the surveyed entrepreneurs believe that new technologies allow them to work faster; even fewer (31%) are aware that digitization saves money, increases profits, and increases efficiency. Obviously, this means that only a third of entrepreneurs are aware that computer systems pay off — just like any other business tool, even the previously mentioned axe. You wouldn’t buy axes for your employees just because a successful entrepreneur did so, would you? He works in the forestry sector, his employees produce added value using axes. Other sectors will need other tools. In the age of rapid development of information and communication technologies (ICT), computer functionality is expanding and opening up new possibilities in all industries.

So the real question is not WHETHER digitization is needed, but AT WHAT LEVEL it is needed. Before spending money, as many options as is possible should be considered (theoretically even thousands) – the options depend on the industry in which the company operates, its turnover, its number of employees, its business relations, its export volume and other individual factors.

You can, of course, try to implement such changes on your own — in this way as well, an acceptable result might be achieved. However, even if you already have some experience in this field, it may turn out that the digital technologies have developed so fast that this experience, which was useful yesterday, may no longer be valid today. Increasingly, the cheapest, fastest, and most suitable choice for an entrepreneur turns out to be a ready-made, complex solution that includes everything a modern office needs. It is important to remember that ready-to-use in digitization does not mean a standard solution, but a solution that is tailored to the needs of a particular company. And it will be very difficult to cope without suitable optional criteria when looking for and creating YOUR system.

What to start with?

With the choice of a reliable advisor, of course! A good specialist will help the company not only buy computer hardware, software, and security systems, but first to identify the company’s needs and create a digital architecture. For example, the CSC Telecom CRM solution Bitrix24 provides a unified tool for customer management. This tool helps to attract new customers and develop the existing client base. Bitrix24 compiles convenient statistics on all customer transactions, calls, requests, and incoming contacts. The system stores documents, lists, and call history in one place automatically. All the work of the sales department, in the palm of your hand! In addition, Bitrix24 covers all the functions related to information management, the sales process and marketing management, working time management; automates the flow of documents; and optimizes the company's internal communication. It integrates with any systems that the company has already implemented. Finally, Bitrix24 provides unprecedented analytical capabilities: it allows you to combine data, create new groups and combine them, and quickly estimate results. More information about it can be obtained at csc.lv

However, if for some reason it is not possible to implement comprehensive solutions or there is a desire to at first try before deciding how far-reaching a solution would be useful, please answer honestly for yourself the following question: What’s in it for me? For what purposes do I need digitization? The computer is not an end in itself; it is a tool that should be used wisely. Small and medium-sized enterprises in particular need to understand what the company will gain upon implementation of the digital strategy. When we start to cover all the things related to digitization and calculate the costs, a moment of crisis may arise when it may start to seem easier — and certainly cheaper — to continue working as before.

And here as well it would be useful to have someone to encourage you not to stop: to get used to the digital environment, as only when it has become part of everyday life can one really appreciate the time and resources saved and its provision of the most effective management and control. Properly used computers, tablets, and smartphones and a powerful internet connection will not foreground the question of whether such pays off, but rather will encourage you to expand and develop this system. How? Here as well the opportunities are huge.

For example, employee training in the digital environment is becoming increasingly popular nowadays; this is completely understandable, because labour shortages become worse and worse. A company that is able to prepare employees quickly and efficiently by itself is certainly at an advantage. However, according to a survey conducted by CV-Online Latvia, more than half (52%) of the surveyed employers admit that they refrain from using digital solutions only due to a lack of information — that is, only half of all employers are ready to use computer systems for addressing trivial problems.

In the age of the internet, this is a bit strange, as simple as it is to enter something into a search engine: for example, enter employee training in the digital environment, and you will find several solutions tailored to Latvian entrepreneurs.

What can be digitized?

The simplest level of digitization, without which the work of any company, even the smallest, is nowadays unimaginable, are the programs that automate the company’s legal and accounting work — first of all, of course, its documents. This is the bare minimum that needs to be put into place in order to understand, firstly, what digitization means on a day-to-day basis and, secondly, to be able to assess the company’s next steps in implementing new technologies, such as the automation of individual processes (real-time production workflow with integrated KPIs, usage of BI IS, etc.).

What to consider when digitizing a company?

First of all, of course, the interests of team building — here, the RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, informed) model would probably be optimal. You can find more information about it at www.kvalb.lv.

Every company needs a clear agreement on who will do what, when, with whom, in what way, and where. An agreement is only possible with oral consent and a clear division of responsibilities. RACI is a division of responsibilities matrix which is represented as a linear diagram, the horizontal axis of which represents functions and roles, and the vertical axis, specific tasks. This model is used in projects and business processes to clearly represent the tasks to be performed and the distribution of roles in their execution. This way, the mutual cooperation of all people involved in achieving a specific goal and the importance of each interaction in the common process is visible. Voluntary, meaningful agreement is a vital part of any digitized process: digitization is only possible if the business owners, management, and employees are aware of WHY it is needed and why the particular form has been chosen for it to happen.

In the digital model, special attention should be paid to development and improvement opportunities for products and services. This is highly important if the company has limited finances and has to set a precise system of priorities.

Finally, when starting digitization, you must be prepared to fully complete it, going through all the planned stages of change. It is better for digitization to be slower than to stop it merely because it has suddenly turned out to be more expensive than initially planned. By the way, this is the most frequent stumbling block for large companies. Regarding this, small and medium-sized enterprises have enormous opportunities, as they usually do not need huge resources, complex decisions, or a long time to complete digitization.

Digitization levels opportunities.