Everyone is saying that companies have to be digital today, and the entrepreneurs behind them must think digitally. But what does that mean, and how can you put it into practice? We will deal with this in detail today so you can start immediately afterward.
What Is Meant By Digitization?
The concept of digitization is not easy to grasp, as it includes various aspects and has a long history behind it. We have put together a simple explanation for you for this purpose.
In short (and in the context of its use in companies), digitization means that digital technology is increasingly being used to optimize processes and thus ultimately generate more sales. It is about using the technical developments in the best possible and intelligent way. Above all, teamwork, the value chain, and customer contact must be improved.
You will have noticed a great step forward in this area in the last year and a half. A lot suddenly had to be done from home, and there was a movement from analog to digital. This change will continue to grow in the coming years, especially in the world of work.
Why You Should Jump On This Trend
No, you don’t have to be part of every trend as a company or organization. Some things don’t fit your concept or image, and some will no longer be up-to-date tomorrow. However, digitization affects not only sub-areas but our entire life and society, and it is therefore impossible to do without it in the long term.
Customers today expect digital offers.
Many companies with established processes tend to wait too long before introducing an update. But here, there is a circular argument. The time to digitize your business is now. Because the change process takes time and effort, and the later you start, the further behind you are. At some point, you will no longer be attractive to new or even existing customers. These then turn to startups who know their modern everyday life better and are adapted to it.
Let’s give an exaggerated example: If today you only offer the possibility of contact by letter or telephone, with opening hours from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and can only be found in the Yellow Pages, you will no longer be able to attract buyers. A website with a contact form, a reachable email address, or a way to reach you via a messenger like WhatsApp is now expected. The most important information about your company should also be available online without contacting you personally. This includes, for example, information about your product range and prices.
Set clear goals and dare to innovate
However, if you join the digitalization trend, you can modernize your corporate structure internally and externally. A solid technical basis also gives room for innovations and new products that would not be feasible without the basic framework.
However, knowing what you want to achieve with your digitization process is also important. Look for best practices from your industry and let yourself be inspired. Spin these ideas further. Find a reason, and don’t make the change just because the word sounds good. If you have set a clear goal, this can also be measured afterward. It is best to list several goals and prioritize what can bring immediate improvements and what would be nice to have.
Examples of Digital Applications In Companies
The following tools and ideas show how digitization can be implemented in your business.
Presence on the Internet to be found
Online presence, in the form of a website or social media presence, is now one of the basics. Not only for e-commerce but also locally, interested parties are looking for shops that offer what they are looking for. You will not be found if you are not represented in the search results. Therefore, it is also worth setting up and maintaining a modern web presence as a classic craft or a small shop. An outdated or neglected appearance, on the other hand, has a bad effect on the perception of visitors.
Faster deals through electronic signatures
Allow e-signatures for the easier signing of contracts. You can also use the advanced electronic signature for legal certainty. The documents can be sent digitally without having to print out all the small print and send it in a thick envelope. Signing is possible within seconds, and the completed contract can be saved and processed directly.
In-house digitization for better collaboration
Tools like Slack, Jira, and Co. support the work within your team. These are team chats and software for successful digital project management. Your team accesses shared conversations, data, and info from any location or device. These tools also allow collaboration with colleagues working from home or external freelancers.
Also, replace unnecessary business trips with online meetings. A personal visit is preferable when getting to know each other for the first time or starting a large, meaningful project. But in normal day-to-day business, business trips only consume working time, costs, energy, and emissions.
Digitize your production and shipping
You can improve your supply chain with data and automation. This digitization requires in-depth technical knowledge, but it is worth it.
Set up a web shop and enable an automated purchase and recommendation process, including payment and package tracking. Automate customer feedback a few days after delivery and save their preferences for successful up- and cross-selling. For example, you can divide customers into categories and align your further marketing accordingly.
The next step in automating business processes would be the IoT (Internet of Things). Previously, analog devices were connected to the web and revealed data about themselves. This data allows for increased product quality and energy savings. An ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning) allows capital, personnel, and means of production to be planned intelligently.
Proactive offers through available customer data
You now have a large amount of digital data. Use them proactively in the next step. Actively offer the customer what they might still want. Ask if everything is ok with the ordered product. Offer your advice and keep customers up to date with news. Also, keep your customer data up to date.
This Is How The World Of Work Is Changing As A Whole
Impact on Marketing…
In the following, we show a few examples of how all industries are changing due to digitization. For example, it was common for a long time to “pour” advertising onto many people with very different addresses using the watering can principle – in the hope that it would stick with one another and tempt them to buy. But no one knew what these people were looking for or wanted. Thanks to digital data such as search history on the web, advertising can be more targeted and ultimately more cost-effective.
Playing out the advertising is, of course, also faster online. Providers such as Facebook or Google allow you to create and place ads in just a few minutes. But other processes are also becoming faster as a result of digitization. For example, support, since your company no longer needs to be available by letter or telephone. The process from the product idea to the market launch is also accelerated by the ready-to-use online solution for market research, shipping, marketing, and the like.
… and on public relations
As customers can source their products from all over the world, the importance of image for a brand increases. You have to stand out from the mass of oversupply. This applies to the digital sector and local retailers because they have to be able to hold their own against online competition.
Digitization also increases the transparency of companies. Both negative and positive information can spread much faster. Backgrounds can be researched; perception can hardly be censored. That is why companies should act fairly, correctly, and transparently. And that is exactly what people are currently looking for in a brand: honesty.
IT specialists are in demand, and machines do assembly line work
More flexible working hours and models are emerging in all sectors where presence is not necessary for physical reasons (e.g., as a waiter in the catering trade). Family, free time, and work can be better reconciled. At the same time, commuting time and exhaust fumes are saved, as is space in the office if not all employees have to be present at all times.
The extensive digitization also means that more and more specialists from the IT industry are needed. Qualified team members who can program the applications and operate and use them sensibly are needed. As a result, the occupational fields are shifting overall away from manual assembly line work towards the conception and constant improvement of precisely these automatic assembly lines.
Create Added Value For Your Customers
The purpose of digitization is to change systems in such a way that they become better. They get better when they bring real benefits to the customer and also convince them that you are exactly the right provider to meet their needs.
What does your target group need?
So first, find out what your customers want. You can do this using existing statistics (many available online ) or your digital means, such as surveys or tracking user/buyer behavior.
If you know what the needs of your target group are, addressing them can be much more direct, thanks to digitization. Questions and problems can be clarified within a very short time. Even chatbots or even simpler FAQs can be used for simple questions with clear answers. All flexible communication options should be used if the request becomes more complex.
Keep your finger on the pulse to deliver added value.
Gather customer data and knowledge about them. Train your skills with digital tools and train your teams. Be one step ahead of the competition and decide the purchase for yourself. Incidentally, offline sales areas can also be optimized thanks to digitally collected and evaluated data. Supermarkets lead the way when they strategically place their products.
Do not stand still if you have created added value for the customer today. Neither does digital change. It’s always better to see which doors can still be opened by the new processes. Can they be used to offer additional sales channels or products? An example of the use of digital tools for more product variety is personalization: A customer can put their variant of your product in the shop in several steps, for example, via mix and match options or by choosing the color and labeling yourself. Personalizing everyday objects, especially as a gift, is trendy.
What Is Necessary To Master Digitization In The Company?
That all sounds nice. But above a certain company size, with processes that have worked so far, the digital conversion cannot be implemented overnight. You should take the first step, even if you still trust the old technology. Because good things can always be improved, and at some point, it’s no longer good when it’s finally outdated. At the latest, when, for example, no updates or support are offered for your system, this is a warning sign to switch.
Digitization needs commitment
If you want to master digitization in your business, you must get behind it. Don’t do things by halves. However, to minimize the risk of making the wrong decision, changes can initially be carried out in a small team. Alternatively, a new method can be tested on a single project across multiple departments. In this way, you can also get to know your partners and providers who are paving the way to digitization. We also offer a 30-day non-binding test phase. Other vendors in the software space work similarly, so you don’t have to take any risks.
When a transformation is implemented, ensure active communication within the team. It should be used that all team members can now access the important information centrally, even if they are not on the same premises. Different departments such as sales and marketing, which previously worked separately, can now go hand in hand. To do this, however, you and your staff must be willing to store and evaluate data, preferably with automated processes, not manually.
It requires a technical infrastructure.
To make all this possible, you need to acquire the necessary technologies. The more processes take place online, the more a correspondingly strong Internet connection and powerful end devices are required. For online meetings, for example, you always need a camera and microphone as equipment. You can also set up your secure servers for all processes that run directly on your premises. Software as a Service provider like us also makes our servers available. Pay attention to a location in Germany to act in compliance with data protection.
Your IT infrastructure must be able to work quickly and be durable. Therefore, invest in new devices, operating systems, and personnel who can operate them. Train your employees or clarify that they should not tackle certain tasks. Experts only carry these out. With all of these purchases, keep scalability in mind: if your business were booming and you were about to double in size, would the infrastructure still be able to handle the demands? If not, reconsider the plan. The performance of many technical applications can be graded today, but you should be informed beforehand.
Before you start digitizing, find out about your options. Continuously educate yourself or a relevant team member because change is fast. You can also offer in-house training for entire departments or bring outside consultants. Numerous experts have already carried out digitization processes. The more secure the individual employee is with the digital technology, the more he can do himself. In this way, you can also strengthen the self-confidence of your workforce.
This Is How The Success of The Restructuring Can Be Measured.
Of course, any goals you set in your business should be measurable. Measurability is part of SMART goals. Digitally, they are even easier to measure and evaluate in various ways. You can use the following KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure whether your digitization measures were effective:
- How is acceptance in the company? How well do management, employees, and new applicants react to the measures?
- How is the acceptance on the part of the customer? Are the new tools used? Are there many complaints about the renewals or more praise?
- What is the number of processes or individual steps that have been digitized? How high is their share compared to all business processes?
- How long did the implementation take, from the initial idea and planning to achieve the set goal?
- Has there been an increase in productivity in the number of products manufactured and shipped?
- Was there an increase in productivity in terms of time savings? Could your employees use this time for other things?
- Has there been an increase in turnover and sales? Can a direct connection to digitization be identified?
- Was there increased cross-selling, for example, through purchase recommendations or intelligent marketing?
- How has the market share changed since the introduction of the new processes?
- Have other vendors imitated your methods? If yes, how many?
But I’m Just a Small Craft Business…
Digitization is also worthwhile for classic craft businesses with a small to a medium number of employees. You don’t have to invest directly in a talking robot, but you should start with the aforementioned online presence. Services like Google My Business help you get found by local customers. You can also search for new young applicants online, establish contact with business partners, inform them about your offers and be more easily accessible, even if you don’t have the opportunity to stop by on-site.
Consider tracking your resources in a digital tool that’s more flexible than an Excel spreadsheet. Let this tool do the calculation work for you. For example, it can warn you when you are running out of material or a process has been taking too long. In addition, when buying or renting your next machine, you could pay attention to whether it shows on displays and whether everything is working properly. Repairs can then be carried out before damage occurs.
Also Read: Retail And Digitization – The Tandem To Ensure Supply