How does digitization of documents benefit small businesses?

Digitization: More than a definition

6. Challenges: What slows companies down and how they master digitization

But why is it that digitization adorns the titles of manager magazines, blogs and daily newspapers, but still only receives fragmented attention in the companies themselves? A Europe-wide study of 2,500 small and medium-sized companies shows that 54% of SMEs think that the introduction of digital technologies is essential to maintain their competitiveness and even 76% name digitalization a priority in their company.

Nevertheless, SMEs in particular face numerous challenges. German companies named a lack of digital infrastructure as the biggest hurdle, in particular an insufficiently developed, comprehensive high-speed internet network (27%), closely followed by a lack of IT skills among employees (24%). There is a 38% lack of software experts, while 33% of the companies surveyed do not employ any employees with sufficient strategic knowledge to advance the digitization project. This is exactly where the core problem lies. Too many companies lack the strategic compass to initiate digital change at all levels.

But without a digital roadmap, the digitization project is doomed to failure. Digitization can only succeed if it includes every area and is centrally controlled. If individual departments go it alone when introducing software, for example, nobody benefits from it in the end. Digitization only works if it runs like a red thread through all instances across companies. Many companies have recognized the need for strategic support and created the position of CIO or CDO (Chief Information Officer or Chief Digitalization Officer).

  • Establish a culture of innovation

One aspect that has a decisive influence on the victory or failure of a digitization project is the willingness of employees to change. Companies have to involve every part of the workforce - from employees to managers - in the digital transformation and thus create a willingness for process adjustments. A software that is available in the end, but is not used by the staff due to a lack of knowledge or Willem, has ultimately failed. Keyword: change management. Training courses and workshops make it possible to introduce employees to the new subject and to think goodbye to old processes.

Technological progress has revolutionized the way people work, as well as the production and provision of services and goods. Artificial intelligence (AI), big data, cloud solutions or industrial 3D manufacturing processes have long since found their way into companies and factories. At the same time, companies are increasingly using software solutions for internal communication and simplifying business processes. Data mining, i.e. the intelligent evaluation of large amounts of data, helps here, as does the hyper-automation megatrend, which is based on the automation of complex processes. At the same time, smaller software solutions for the digital workplace are also gaining in importance in almost all businesses. Collaboration tools or intranet solutions are often the entry point for many companies.

  • Digitization is a top priority

Even the best strategy and technology will ultimately not lead to the desired success if management is not behind it. Even more: digitization is always the task of top-level management. Although the implementation is carried out by the responsible specialist staff in the IT departments, the overarching goal cannot be delegated: to transform the company holistically. If the potential of digitization is recognized early on at the management level, that is the key to success.

7. Outlook: where is digitization going?

Digitization is changing the way people work, learn, communicate and ultimately live. An end to this development is hardly to be expected. If we want to participate in digital change - be it as a student or patient, as an employee or CEO - we have to allow progress.

Last but not least, the corona pandemic made this realization painfully clear: after all, companies with a high level of digital maturity got through the crisis particularly lightly. More and more traditional companies are already being left behind by a new generation of digital starters. If companies, above all management, invest passion, time and resources in their digitization project, they can soon reap the fruits of their commitment. Where digitization will ultimately lead us can only be revealed by looking into the crystal ball. But one thing is clear: the advantages and opportunities of digitization are gigantic.


European SME Survey 2019

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