Networked online: Will digitization become a relevant competitive factor?

With digitization, which not only links people more closely, the demands on the economy are also increasing. As a trading company, not having an online shop now seems almost unthinkable. But digitization already goes far beyond that. It enables us to reach even more customers in the shortest possible time and also to open up completely new service and business models. However, this cannot be achieved with the introduction of digital technologies alone. Rather, it is more important to pick up the employees in an increasingly digital world.

Depending on the industry, digitization offers great potential.

In the further training of employees, digital transformation is gaining in importance – 75.89% of the companies surveyed in the BENCHMARKING Study 2017 are of the opinion, that they have already defined a training strategy in their company. As digitalization progresses, new demands are also made on employees, be it the increased need for media skills or the conscious use of social media. In order to remain present and attractive on the market, the entire company must keep up with the times and also use the new media, for example to win new customers. Especially with a very heterogeneous workforce, which also includes employees of a higher age, the new work requirements can quickly become a challenge. This is where there is the greatest need for training in the use of digital media. Despite this, most companies rate the promotion of digital skills within their training programs as low or ineffective (62.3%). Yet only 5.8 % consider their employees’ digital skills to be sufficient. Especially among managers, only 25.7 % are considered fit for digitization. These results cast doubt on the fact that the relevance of digital transformation has already reached DACH companies. Nevertheless, the companies agree with 75.8 %: Digitization will have a strong impact on your company in the future. Whether positive or negative – this is in the hands of each individual and his or her efforts to promote digital skills at all employee levels.

Making your own company digitally fit has competitive advantages

Digitization has long been omnipresent in public perception. There is hardly any debate or discussion that does not at least partly deal with the opportunities and risks of digital transformation. According to the McKinsey study, however, Germany alone is exploiting just 10 % of its digital potential – and is thus even below the European average of 12 %. With only 18% of its potential being used, the USA can scold itself as the leader – but this is relatively low. A possible explanation for these results could be the investment needed to build digitization and industry 4.0 solutions. However, these investments can be worthwhile, as this year’s digitization study by Deutsche Telekom AG on cross-industry SMEs shows. For example, 35 % of the companies surveyed stated that the digital transformation was accompanied by an increase in sales. 45 % even noticed an increased customer satisfaction. For 44 %, their company’s digital transformation has already led to an increase in product or service quality and for 50 % to an improvement in internal processes. The companies surveyed in the BENCHMARKING study take a similar view of the potential: 94.5 % alone or in part agree with the statement, that promoting employees’ digital skills gives the company a competitive advantage. 95.3% are at least partially of the opinion that this can also have a positive effect on productivity. From the customer’s point of view, these assessments are probably easily justifiable: those who are increasingly online are more likely to be recognized as potentially interesting service providers or sellers than their predominantly offline competitors.

Digitization is more relevant today than ever before

The promotion of digital skills plays an important role in in-company education.

The importance of the topic is also demonstrated by the political initiatives that have been launched in the last two years alone in response to increasing digitization. According to the mmb Trendreport, the initiative “Hochschulforum Digitalisierung”, the initiative “Bildung in einer digitalen Welt” of the Conferences of the Ministers of Education and the “Digitale Agenda” of the Federal Government are of particular relevance for the eLearning market. This covers the various educational sectors from higher education to in-company education and digitization in all areas of life. The main aim is to raise awareness of this topic among education providers and companies. The most economically significant of these three is the “Digitale Agenda”, which defines the principles of a digital policy for the German economy, among others.

If a company decides on a digital transformation, this usually pays off in the form of a digital added value. Potential increases in sales volumes and turnover, new customers and accelerated processes can be recorded. The McKinsey study predicts an additional value creation potential of approx. 126 billion euros by the year 2025, which will be divided between the various sectors. Drivers of this development can then be, for example, automations in workflows or the use of previously unused data. Those who go with digitization and train their employees accordingly can benefit in the long term.