In a complex period like the one we are experiencing, characterized by new working dynamics and very turbulent markets, corporate digitalization is a lifeline. No, it is much more: companies that today can count on a high digital maturity are also able to transform the dynamics of the new normal into a competitive advantage, showing themselves more efficient, productive and closer to the needs of their customers. In fact, therefore, the period we are experiencing also provides concrete growth opportunities for companies, but they must be able to exploit them: the only ‘way’ is corporate digitalization.
The data tell us that in Italy, in the face of large companies with a high level of digital maturity, the immense panorama of SMEs is quite in difficulty from this point of view: a recent research (on pre-covid data) by the Digital Innovation Observatory of SMEs establish that only 1 company out of 4 (precisely, 26%) can be defined digitally mature, that is, it has adequate skills, technologies and takes full advantage of the digitization of internal and external processes.
The new normal requires the remaining 74% to concretely start this path: although the offices are open, companies will work more and more in smart mode, i.e. with a widespread workforce that asks for access to company resources wherever it is and that thinks in terms of objectives and no longer presence; all this, while customers have become accustomed to the agility of digital and do not grant discounts: if the experience is not what they want it, the competitor is just a touch of the screen away.
Given that corporate digitalization is the only valid solution in uncertain times like the current ones, let’s see what companies should do to be ready to face the challenges of the new normal and smart working.
Review the processes from a digital perspective
The first step is the digital review of the processes. It may seem like a trivial statement, but practice tells us that companies still live a lot on traditional processes conditioned by the presence in the office and the paper document. The lockdown period was eloquent in this respect: those who could count on highly digitized processes did not suffer a great backlash, unlike all the others. Among other things, that period taught us to think in terms of corporate digitalization not only as a means for greater efficiency, for cost reduction, growth and productivity optimization, but as a business continuity tool. Therefore, the first step to better address the new normal is to make sure that, legislation and context permitting, all or almost all of the business processes are digitized. Or rather, they are rethought and revised in a totally digital key: this is the fundamental step that allows companies, by repeating a concept already expressed, not so much to govern the new normal, but to take advantage of it to grow.
Next, there is the theme of automation. If the process is natively digital, it certainly consists of repetitive and automatable steps, based on defined and in some way predictable rules. Thus we enter the domain of Robotic Process Automation, a series of technologies and solutions capable of automating workflows by executing them as real operators would do. The benefits are very evident both in terms of productivity and efficiency, not to mention that operators can be refocused on value-added activities, which is much more satisfying for them tool.
Create a secure digital workplace
You go back to work in the office but smart working has left its mark and will never disappear. Indeed, given that the lockdown was remote working (it had nothing particularly smart), companies must start from the assumption that the working paradigm is drastically changing: the era of hours, presence and control ends, that of the anywhere office, of the possibility to work anywhere, to access company resources with any device and to communicate with colleagues, customers and suppliers in an innovative way, on multiple channels but always quickly and effectively. Preparing, through a correct technological qualification and an adoption path, a real digital workplace is essential to face the challenges of the new normal and the future. Beware, however, of security risks: constant and continuous access to corporate resources remotely makes data protection more difficult than traditional paradigms.
Change mentality and culture
Here we go back to the previous point: enabling smart and collaborative ways of working is not a technological issue but a much deeper evolution concerning corporate culture, organization and also leadership models. Change management is an essential step to face the challenges of today and tomorrow with optimism.