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One of the biggest challenges of digitalization is neither data security nor budget issues – it’s acceptance. Quite often, implementation of modern technology takes such a long time because the users don’t see how they can profit from it. So, what’s the added value?

First things first: technology is only a means to an end

One of my favorite phrases regarding technology is the motto of our CDO Reinhard Janning: a fool with a tool is still a fool. When it comes to digitalization, most companies think that installing technology alone is the cure for all problems.

However, if existing processes or the company culture don’t fit with the new technology, the change will inevitably lead to more problems, lacking acceptance and frustrated employees.

According to a recent study, every second sales employee does not think that digitalization should be prioritized. That’s surprising, given that especially sales units can profit immensely from mobile and automated processes to save time and work more efficiently on the go.

But therein lies the problem. Many don’t really „get“ digitalization and digital transformation because it is such an abstract term for so many different things. Quite often, instead of talking about what you can do with the new technology, people only talk about the technology itself.

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What can digitalization do?

You can basically concentrate the biggest advantages of the digital transformation into three key points.

  1. Automation

If you ask marketing, sales and service what they would like to change at work, they will usually mention time-consuming manual labor:

  • creating reports
  • input of data, finding
  • combining information

According to a study by Adgorithms, a whopping 88% of all marketers would like to have automated reports and analysis to save time (source: businesswire.com).

Whether it’s about sending individual emails, producing reports or communicating 1:1 with users and customers – there’s hardly any process in any company that couldn’t profit from automation.

Automation can slim processes but also help with widening the possibilities to stay in contact with customers and provide services and information on more platforms.

Instead of replying to customers only when they explicitly ask for information, you can, for example, use automated emails to give updates on support issues, send confirmations and provide more transparency to your overall process, so your customers know what’s happening at any time (even outside of working hours).

For lead management, automation can help to keep an eye on the lead throughout the whole lead management process and make sure that there’s always a designated contact. Additionally, automated lead scoring can make sure that the lead will be handed over to sales as soon as it is ready.

  1. Mobility

Cloud computing has changed our access to information drastically in the last decades. Thanks to smartphones, tablets and cloud-based software, employees can basically access information at any time and at any place (with functioning W-LAN).

This mobility affords people to prepare better, to make decisions on the go and to save a lot of time. Instead of trying to assemble everything you’ve talked about in a customer meeting hours (or days) later in your office you can instead document everything right on the spot.

Even service can use the mobility aspect. Whether it’s informing your customer when a delivery will arrive or help a service employee to get updates for their next appointment while they are already on the way.

  1. Connectivity

Digitalization connects. Whether it’s software systems, data sets over different business units or the communication across platforms. Never before did we have so many possibilities to connect via technology.

One of the most exciting inventions of our age is the smartphone. Who would have thought that mobile phones wouldn’t even be used primarily to phone people but to connect with our environment via chats, images, social networks, and information „on the go“?

Digitalization helps to connect processes, systems, data and people and breaks up traditional (knowledge) silos.

What is important for digital transformation?

So, I’ve written about the advantages of digitalization which leads to a simple question: if digitalization is so great, why isn’t everybody on board, yet?

I’ve already hinted at the answer. Quite often, technology is sold like snake oil as a solution for all your problems without suggesting how it could help. And equally often, users are not being included in the process early on to make decisions and adapt to the new technology.

There’s many reasons, why digital transformation can stumble …

  1. New technology demands new processes

Sounds simple enough, right? If you implement a new technology, you need to adapt your old processes because they have been developed without that technology in mind.

Ideally, you need to do this before you implement the technology. This includes explaining to users (your employees) what will change and give enough training and information and time to adapt.

If you don’t do this, the worst-case scenario isn’t even that the employees won’t use the technology. No, it’s that they suddenly have to use the technology and also still manage the old processes, therefore doubling their work. And this is not an exaggeration.

In a study from a few years ago, bank employees said that digital processes did in fact add to their workload because they couldn’t – for differing reasons – switch from analog to digital processes and therefore had to do both (source: PPI via FAZ).

  1. The cost-benefit consideration needs to fit

Speaking of additional work: there needs to be a clear value, especially for the people who have to use the technology eventually. If that’s not the case or if the ones who decide on these changes can’t communicate the value adequately, it will be incredibly difficult to reach a satisfying acceptance level.

I want to give an example from my work for this:

Here at ec4u, we use Teams as our main communication platform. Teams is a Microsoft platform to create groups, post information, keep files and information and even chat individually.

At the beginning, it was quite the stretch to suddenly not write an email but post information on Teams and learn new rules and functions. But after experiencing the advantages first hand, it was natural for me to adapt and use Teams more because I had a reason to do so.

As soon as the user/employee sees how they can benefit from a new process/technology, they are much more inclined to use it. However, if there is no apparent benefit and if they even feel as if there is more work to do, they will be hesitant to include these new processes into their daily routines and try a lot to circumvent them.

Which leads me to number 3:

  1. New technology needs to solve problems and optimize processes

When choosing a new technology, you need to consider whether it can solve actual problems or optimize current processes at your company. These problems and/or processes need to be addressed directly when you create your catalogue of requirements. „You will be more successful“ is not enough to invest in a new technology without the question: „but how?“

Otherwise, you sit on an expensive new solution that is not capable of solving your company’s problems.

  1. Include your employees/users in your decisions

Acceptance of new technology is one of the key points for its success. But instead of making all your decisions on a CEO/managerial basis try to convince the actual users of the new solution. It’s crucial to involve key employees in the decision process regarding these questions:

  • How do you communicate?
  • How do you work?
  • How do you work and manage data?
  • What do you need to work efficiently?

If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you tempt fate if you think you can choose the correct solution and implement it successfully.

Another bonus if you know what your employees want to do and what they need: you can include this knowledge into your catalogue of requirements.

Define how digitalization can help your company

The neighbor’s grass is always greener, is a German saying. And it’s true, it never hurts to see what other companies in your industry are doing and what’s out there. But every company is different. You have your own individual philosophy, culture and communication. If you stick too much with what other companies use, you might lose sight of that.

Instead, look at how your employees work, how they exchange information and knowledge, how they design and implement processes and how you as a company communicate with your customers. Ask your employees and your customers what they need to have a better (working) experience and base your decision on their answers.

This way, everyone will look forward to the digital transformation instead of fearing how it will disrupt their lives.

Need help? Our experts can help you with finding the right technology, implementing it and helping with change management strategies.