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Digitization: Opportunity or Challenge? A matter of attitude!

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All too often, when it comes to digitization, there is talk of challenges and, much more, of risks: Robots take our jobs away from us, data protection and digitization are incompatible, and above all: It all costs way too much money, without any specific benefit or even to have a direct effect on the ROI. Siamac Rahnavard from the Echte Liebe agency has a completely different opinion: Whether the digital transformation means more stress and additional effort or new (growth) opportunities for companies is above all a question of perspective – therefore companies should be more courageous and open-minded about the topic .

A lot of talk, nothing behind it – digitization must be a priority for German companies

The digital transformation has long been a constant topic in this country and is therefore on the agenda in every company – one would think. In fact, there is more talk about digitization than actual implementation: German companies are still lagging far behind their competitors, for example from the USA or China. A study by etventure [1] also shows that German companies are too hesitant when it comes to digital transformation : According to the survey, 42 percent and thus less than half of all corporations assume that their employees are qualified for digital transformation. Other surveys, such as those from Kaspersky Lab and Statista [2]show that there is still a lot of skepticism among Germans. But where does this uncertainty in digitization come from? What makes it so difficult for companies to embrace digital transformation?

The Germans are considered world champions of bureaucracy – it is quite possible that this tendency towards a certain order and supposed security is the source of many concerns and inhibitions with regard to digital change. According to a Statista survey from 2015 [3]“Fear of IT security requirements” and “legal uncertainties” are the top reasons for barriers to digitization. This is also evident in the current Corona crisis, where after the initial euphoria, concerns about using technical aids are now coming to the fore again. “Inadequate employee skills”, “high investment costs” and “lack of technical standards” were also stated. In the face of these potential difficulties, companies give up quickly or do their digitization homework slowly. But only in Germany, because ignoring the tasks related to technical change does not lead to anything: the digital transformation is already in full swing one way or another and those who do not act now will lose touch with international competition.

Don’t be shy: fear of digitization stands in the way of progress and really endangers jobs

Digitization has many advantages – some of which are very obvious. The Internet and countless apps enable better access to knowledge, information can be accessed more quickly and can be disseminated more efficiently and updated again and again, the production of all kinds of content becomes cheaper and easier. These benefits, of course, affect everyone – most are likely to agree.

However, if the focus is on the negative aspects, digitization becomes an apparently insurmountable mammoth task. Concentrating on direct costs, excluding any opportunity costs and possible obstacles, obscures the benefits of digitization. Companies must therefore increasingly focus on the positive aspects of digital transformation and be open to changes. A form of growth hacking could be the solution here: test quickly, record and compare results and pursue successful ideas. But foresight is also required for the changeover: where things are currently going well, the “incentive” may still be missing to now take on the costs and efforts associated with the changes. This is fatal because in today’s world such an attitude can quickly push a company out of the way. There are numerous examples of well-known companies from the economy that appear extremely stable and are then pushed to the limit by a low system load, as the current Corona situation clearly shows.

Of course, the implementation of digital work processes and strategies sometimes also requires the courage to take risks and the willingness to break new ground. And of course, the digitization of business processes means first of all to put them to the test, to think them through and to reorganize them. Nobody said it was easy. With the focus on the difficult aspects of the necessary digitization, however, the task does not get any smaller, but rather the fears and inhibitions grow.

Faster processes, improved workflows, but holistic – digitization increases company efficiency

Online forms, communication and organization tools are already simplifying many processes such as invoice processing in companies, digital storage spaces have long been replacing dusty filing cabinets and real-time collaboration from anywhere is possible with online documents. So far so good. But digital change brings a lot more. New working models as well as design and innovation options are just two examples of the positive influence of digitization on almost all companies:

Artificial intelligence offers enormous potential for many industries. AI is already being used in recruiting or for automatic text creation and has an enormous resource-saving effect. In addition, AI is essential for personalization – and this is not only important in marketing, but is becoming more relevant for companies of all kinds.

And then there is “New Work” – already dismissed as an empty buzzword, but there is a lot of value behind the term. Better working conditions and more flexible work thanks to digital tools and global networking, more room for creativity because routine tasks are eliminated – all of this benefits employees and companies. Communication, which has been significantly accelerated overall by the Internet and digital tools, saves time, resources and thus costs. Accordingly, digitization not only has a positive influence on team collaboration, but also on the quality of life during work.

Especially in times of crises, such as the current Corona situation, it is also evident that especially companies that already have experience with remote work and home office can react much more flexibly and thus avoid any loss of sales. If all employees suddenly have to work from home, those companies have an advantage that do not necessarily have to worry about laptops, collaboration tools or remote access for company documents. The implementation of agile and digital working methods, but also the technical basis for the application, becomes the cornerstone to successfully survive even unforeseen situations.

Conclusion: focus on the positive! Only those who see the opportunities of digitization can use them

Digitization offers many opportunities, it creates space for creativity and innovation and ensures greater efficiency. Companies that take advantage of these opportunities can develop a clear competitive advantage because they are able to respond more flexibly to individual customer requests and thereby save a lot of costs. To make all of this possible, however, it takes confidence and a positive attitude – the famous “German fear” is therefore pure poison for innovations.

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