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In the digital transformation of business, new technologies are not enough

In the weeks following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the business has transformed more than in the last 10 years. The restrictions introduced to minimize the risk of infections contributed to the acceleration of the digital transformation of companies and the change of their operating models. However, in order to adapt to the new requirements of the modern world, enterprises have to face several significant challenges.

In just a few weeks, many companies had to completely remodel and digitize their business. Why did it happen only now, when advanced technologies, helping, inter alia, in communication and teamwork, have been available for a long time? It is worth emphasizing that usually not permanent employees on the way to their implementation – they are increasingly willing to use such solutions themselves. A much greater challenge in the digital transformation of business was the lack of trust that a large part of entrepreneurs faced only in the face of the pandemic.

Business needs digital leaders

Many employers, mainly in small and medium-sized enterprises, have so far built their leadership culture based on close monitoring of employees. They believed that work only takes place when the employee is at the company’s headquarters and they could not imagine a different model of team operation. The current situation caused a sudden need for changes and even the most skeptical managers had to become e-leaders – start to strengthen the position of their employees and trust them to provide high-quality work also outside the company’s walls. The global health crisis has thus spurred the development of an important, positive business trend, which, in my opinion, fortunately will not disappear after the pandemic ends. In the future, eLeadership and digital work environments will be a must.

We can see that in the current situation the advantage is, among others, start-ups that are already managed by e-leaders and operate based on a culture of transparency and trust. It is they who can quickly adapt to new needs because they are not limited by the burden of developed and outdated processes in the company and an extensive structure that is difficult to change.

New business models

The mere digitization of teams will prove insufficient in the future. After the end of the crisis caused by COVID-19, companies will also have to remodel their businesses to adapt them to the digital world and respond to the new needs of customers who require, for example, personalized services offered through online tools, and not just the delivery of physical products ( like Netflix has transformed from a DVD rental company to an online VOD platform – video on demand). To meet these challenges, it will be necessary to build business models that shape new value chains and new skills that incorporate digital technologies.

Workers of the digital age

The pandemic can help us solve another big problem of the present day. There has been a lack of digital skills and competences worldwide for many years. Given that jobs in digitized industries are less prone to liquidation threats than other occupations that require a physical presence in the company and are judged solely on the basis of working time, we can expect an increase in the number of people transitioning to these positions.

Enterprises will have to support employees with the development of new skills, including by building a culture of openness, innovation and cooperation. The employee’s professional experience is losing its importance – technological development makes the acquired knowledge rapidly obsolete in the modern world, and many positions are transformed. The right attitude to lifelong learning becomes more important.

What will be the next steps after the crisis? Should companies go back to the old ways of doing business or have they seen opportunities that they could incorporate into their future way of doing business? Have they managed to develop a culture of collaboration and trust? – Each company will have to assess it individually. However, we can clearly state that the effects of the crisis will last longer than the crisis itself – companies and employees should take advantage of this situation to determine their future role in the digital ecosystem.

Achilles Georgiu

Lecturer at the Business School of the Warsaw University of Technology and Central European University


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