Quite often, the term "digital" is mistakenly associated only with the specific technologies used. In reality, however, "being digital" describes a corporate culture that needs to be supported by a strategy as well as clearly defined objectives. The tasks remain the same as in the past, yet their realization is changing to be more flexible and to include a broader group of users. New digital formats and applications such as video conferencing or instant messaging have become an integral part of business communications. By introducing digital work platforms and real-time data analytics tools, for example, companies are boosting interaction not only internally, within the company, but also externally, with customers and suppliers.
Simultaneously, data is gathered on a steady basis. The evaluation of the collected information provides insights that in turn can be used productively. The goal is to create organized workflows that reduce the complexity of business processes.
Collaboration platforms (e.g. the platform innovaphone myApps) provide all the necessary tools to optimize work processes and collaboration within the company. Further, it enhances customer contact by means of appropriate contact management.
In the planning phase, it should be taken into account that the change is to lead the company to satisfactory results. The primary focus should not be an increased revenue. Instead, the goal should be to increase customer satisfaction. The customer experience is monitored using digital tools and metrics. These add value and drive tangible improvements in internal and external relationships. The aim is to make the company competitive, for it to be able to respond flexibly to the current needs of the market, using smart technologies that monitor results through predefined control metrics (known as key performance indicators).
Businesses will only be able to successfully adapt to change if they can pinpoint weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Can the business determine what resources and capabilities are needed before starting with the restructuring of functions and roles?
First, it is advisable to develop a short-term strategy with the main objective of meeting the most urgent operational needs. Only once this has been achieved, the focus can be shifted towards a long-term strategic vision. Results can only be delivered with the support and involvement of internal resources. Employees need to be accompanied and trained in all transition processes while requiring a transition phase to adapt to the new organization.
One issue that needs to be addressed is the modernization of traditional processes supported by outdated operating systems. It is necessary to define and clearly communicate the goals that need to be achieved. The reasons for the respective decisions to move a company towards the digital transformation should always be disclosed.
One important - if not the most important - aspect of successful digital transformation is the leadership skills of the managers involved. They should act as "digital ambassadors" to drive the transition. The leaders have to actively participate, otherwise it will be difficult to legitimize their role as promoters of digital transformation, ensuring that new working models are quickly and willingly accepted.
The workforce of companies is always heterogenous, it might be expected that some employees will hinder the changes while others will be supporting the transformation, with the ideal mindset to pursue the digital roadmap. However, everyone in the company must be given the opportunity to actively participate in the transition by seeking interaction and supporting initiatives that promote digital culture. Relevant training programs will ensure that the required skills to perform the tasks are developed. Training is extremely important to achieve high participation and to close any gaps concerning the digital knowledge.
Innovation is a continuous organizational process that encompasses the entire company. Companies had to reinvent themselves quickly during the pandemic and, in a time of crisis and uncertainty, were forced to bridge the technological gap in order to use digitization as a vehicle for development.
A true digital revolution was initiated in a very short time, involving all organizations and sectors. Furthermore, several initiatives and reforms have been launched in recent years to promote modern digital technologies in both the public sector and the private sector. Thanks to these measures (e.g. the European stimulus plan), a strong impetus for the digitization of services and the modernization of public administration and businesses is expected in the upcoming years.
1 Original title of the thesis: “I processi di digitalizzazione delle PMI nel contesto post-pandemia”