3 things you need to know about digitalising your business
Thanks to digitalisation we have online tax declarations, online malfunction notifications in housing associations, electronic cinema and travel tickets, omnipresent customer service chats, and online stores. What else could we wish for?
Quite a lot, in fact.
‘Digitalisation is, most of the time, more or less misunderstood’, says the expert in e-commerce, Sofokus Oy’s CEO Teemu Malinen. ‘Digitalization is not about bits, nor is it about performing old tasks using new tools or replacing analogue with digital’.
What does it mean then to digitalise business activities or to develop a digital strategy? Following Malinen’s lead, we present here 3 things related to the topic that any company – irrespective of its size or business field – should give some thought to.
1. Thinking anew
When describing the influence digitalisation might have on business activities, simplifying the value chain gets usually mentioned. According to Teemu Malinen, there is much more to it than just simplifying the already existing chains:
‘The best solutions challenge altogether the mechanisms and models of functioning that are already in place. This is what happened in, e.g., the gaming industry, where completely new revenue models including in-game purchases were constructed. Another case in point is Uber, which questioned the way in which taxi services were offered and hit the road by looking for a solution from a completely different perspective’.
In Malinen’s opinion, digitalisation is first and foremost about adopting new ways of thinking. The world has changed in a way that requires finding novel approaches to conducting business and at the same time makes them possible. And the most important is the right mindset, originating from the need and will to renew your operations to fit the present day.
2. Seamless union of analogue and digital
Nonetheless, digitalisation is not a magic trick or panacea that will save otherwise ailing business operations. Digitalisation is not going to bring an end to analogue either.
Malinen, who has been an executive at a number of companies, emphasises the importance of the core of the business:
‘The company’s services and products still have to be good, this hasn’t changed a bit. And the old laws of supply and demand are still valid as well. Top customer service and solid ability to productise your services as well as to deliver what you promise are still indispensable’.
The perfect digitalisation strategy has to combine the traditional and the modern into a seamless whole. The minimum requirement is a flexible, digital base (obtained as a service) and first-class customer service, which result in a positive customer experience. At best, you should arrive at a thriving ecosystem that your competitors will find difficult to challenge.
3. World at your feet
Digitalisation has done away with a variety of barriers, such as those of time, place and communication. This has made global networks and worldwide trade possible.
‘The world is shrinking and it affects every single industry’, says Teemu Malinen. ‘In some industries, it already means the exponential growth of competition, and certainly no industry is going to remain unaffected by global competition’.
But, at the same time, it also means that vast international markets are within the reach of any Finnish supplier or service provider. The biggest obstacles are usually the attitude and lack of boldness.
‘Finns are skilled in sales and marketing, this isn’t the problem. Internationalisation calls for competitive drive and bold actions. That is, an attitude towards the world that is already natural to present-day young adults in their 20s’.
Nowadays, the international dimension should be taken into account by all businesses in principle. Navitep, a solution that automated ordering of translations, is an example of solutions that businesses should take advantage of if they want to digitalise and internationalise. Navitep is a flexible solution that can easily be combined with the systems already in place.
Take your place in the digital future
Once the need for change has been acknowledged and the basic elements have been internalised, what is the best way of modernising your business?
‘From the inside’, answers Malinen. ‘Often the much needed innovations and new way of thinking can be found from within the company’s own team. And this is where the role of the senior management is so important. It is crucial that the management support the reformative efforts, within both the sphere of attitudes as well as investment and funds allocation’.
While developing a business with present and future challenges in mind, the company itself must have an understanding of its industry as well as the authentic need and will to change the current state of affairs. In everything else, you can reach for assistance to an external partner.
Sofokus in an example of a company that helps all sorts of businesses meet the challenges of the present day as well as gain a competitive advantage. Its services include sparring on the strategic level and designing online services, as well as their technical implementation. Sofokus is also a partner of Navitep, a company developing translation project management software.
Teemu Malinen’s message is clear: attitudes towards digitalisation can vary. As a consumer or client, you can simply wait to see what the future brings. But when representing companies and organisations, you must be the one shaping the future, if you want there to be some space for you in it. Do you want to be on the side of the winners or the losers? The choice is yours.