Digitization is not progressing at the same pace everywhere. While some companies are marching ahead, others are in danger of losing touch. The marked difference is often described as a ” digitization gap”. Measured by the importance individual companies attach to digitization, a rough distinction can be made between three types of company.
The first third of companies are still asleep and firmly believe that they are not affected by digitization. The second third want to do something, but do not really know what to do, and therefore get lost in a less targeted drive for action. The last third sees digital transformation as a holistic process and not just a trendy IT project.
the hurdles to note
By far the greatest obstacle to the implementation of digitization in companies is the defense of existing structures. Large, older companies in particular, with rigid processes and a pronounced desire for security and perfection, often lack the flexibility to initiate radical changes. In addition, they often act timidly because they believe they must not allow mistakes to be made. But in the context of digitization, different conditions apply than, for example, for the introduction of a new, physical product. Because digitization is not a sprint, but a marathon. For an agile organization, it requires above all foresight, willingness to take risks and courage.
Opportunity recognition – and use
Digitization and the technologies that go hand in hand with it are driving service orientation in companies in particular at an extremely rapid pace. While tangible goods are becoming increasingly interchangeable in many industries, service is becoming increasingly important.
So-called disruptive change provides the opportunity to develop completely new business models from the correct handling of the large quantities of digital data. Companies should not underestimate this. Physical products or processes are being replaced by data and digital solutions with the help of information technology. This revolutionizes business models and changes corporate structures. The focus is increasingly on networking and the exchange of information between companies and customers.
That’s what it looks like
A company’s progress in digitization can be measured in six successive maturity levels, with the highest maturity level ultimately denoting the completely digital company.
In this possibly no longer occurring company, the IT is limited to an absolute minimum, so that almost all processes run manually. Communication is mainly oral or by means of handwritten letters. There is virtually no bookkeeping, or it is written by hand in a book. The entire production is ultimately a pure manufacture.
First points of contact with technology
This company manages the data, but hardly processes it further. Communication is mostly in writing by letter or verbally by telephone. The accounting department, however, already works with computers, where electronic data processing offers considerable advantages. In most cases, simple software is used for reading and writing operations. For production, the company also uses rudimentary software with very simple control commands to control machines.
Information Systems as little helpers
The company relies on more complex data processing with built-in logic in the software. Management information systems evaluate and condense business management data. The workstations are equipped with computers, have a comprehensive software package and are connected to external devices such as printers. Communication now increasingly takes place via e-mail. In addition, the accounting department is relieved by programs that can already perform complex calculations. Production is supported throughout by machines that can now handle more complex process steps.
Internet technology is advancing
The company has now arrived in Internet technology, as every employee has access to his or her own computer. In addition to the telephone, they communicate with customers via software and even via the website. In the largely automated production process, everything is now organized using software. In addition, a CRM system manages all customer data and all planning is done by software.
Beginnings of automatization
The company controls all internal departmental processes via software, which guarantees a high degree of networking and agile working. To be more precise, many processes and procedures now run automatically or are monitored by software – for example, the creation of plans or fully automated accounting. The entire knowledge, i.e. all company data and information, is made available to all employees via knowledge management systems.
To get rid of “information islands” and enable the automatic exchange of interdepartmental data, the company networks internal departmental systems with each other by combining data from different departments into one data hub. Internally, employees communicate mainly via Messenger, whereby the messages are always summarized according to topic or group if there are several participants.
The all-digital company
A company that is completely digital has technology at its heart and is much more than just individual IT programs: It is the merging of information, processes, work and people with the aim of bringing about organizational change and more efficient and productive collaboration. All processes are completely data-driven and use artificial intelligence, which makes use of patterns learned in recent years, to calculate a comprehensive plan based on targets. Trends can even be analyzed by software accessing all channels on the Internet and their data. Communication with customers ideally takes place completely automatically via chatbots. Otherwise, they are supported by human agents in service centers.
In addition, the all-digital company relies on full automation for production, making decisions based on learned patterns, logging and maintenance. Even different offers of the required goods and services are fully automatically evaluated and purchased by the software. In general, software processes as well as machines are permanently monitored automatically and through continuous learning, all relevant parameters are added to the newly acquired ones. In case of differences, the so-called self-healing is crucial by starting processes that automatically recognize the problem and eliminate the triggers. However, the company can only work efficiently and productively if the software is constantly optimized, since programming the machines gives the necessary competitive edge.
Attention must be paid to
Digital technology alone does not make companies agile, innovative and efficient; it is only capable of supporting a uniform corporate strategy. It is simply not enough to have a partial plan that does not take the entire process fully into account, or to master only the technology, processes and tools. However, the path to a new culture is obligatory, in which changes are part of everyday life and therefore speed, innovation and learning from mistakes are prerequisites for success. After all, digitization is not a one-off measure, but a constant process of renewal that begins in the corporate culture and organization. Far-reaching changes such as digitization often cause uncertainty among employees when dealing with the new technology, which is why transparent communication is essential.
After all, this is what successful digitization of a company is all about: cultivating human relationships and raising awareness of change in order to achieve an improvement and development in the corporate culture. Under no circumstances should there be an information gap in terms of digital strategy between managers and employees without management responsibility. Every employee must therefore always be informed about the digital strategy of his or her company, so that he or she can change from being affected to be a participant and co-designer.
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