Digitalisation refers to the fact that smart devices are increasingly networked and exchange data in all areas of life.
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Definition: What is Digitalisation (Digital Transformation)?
Digitalisation, also known as digital transformation or digital revolution – this phenomenon refers to the fact that smart devices are increasingly networked and exchange data in all areas of life. In the working world, this entails a reorientation of many company and work processes. The more new technologies are acquired, the more the way we work together changes. Digitalisation should therefore be seen as an enabler of new processes.
This applies, for example, to communication in companies. This is where it creates a new range of opportunities for people to exchange ideas, knowledge, news, professional or private information. A new type of communication behaviour is thus taking hold: people are networked with each other around the clock. They can exchange data and information in real time. Either by phone, voice message, e-mail, chat or social networking.
The selected communication style adapts to the environment in which a user is currently located. If a direct exchange via telephone connection or video chat is not possible, sending time-shifted messages may be considered. The sender sends his information when it is relevant to him. The recipient, however, devotes himself to the received data again at the time when he has the necessary concentration and calmness for it. Thus, within the digital transformation, the human being functions as an actor who optimally integrates the digital means at his disposal into his everyday life and work.
What effects does Digitalisation have on Companies?
In the corporate environment, the digital transformation has an impact on cooperation within the company, especially in the area of communication:
- Internal Communication: Internal corporate communication is already managed digitally. Using notebooks, tablets and smartphones, employees can be kept up to date very efficiently and transparently – regardless of time and place. As before, however, employees are also informed verbally about important changes or news – at all-hands meetings, for example. But what about those who cannot be there at the time in question? For example, because they are ill or the date for the staff meeting is outside their working hours?
They often feel left out when they do not receive information. This lowers motivation. To prevent this, companies could bundle their internal messages even more in a uniform tool. Using an app, the management can, for example, send updates in a newsstream to everyone – in addition to the all-hands meeting. So everyone is always up to date.
- Corporate Culture: Such functions will also have a positive impact on corporate culture. For example, team leaders can provide regular feedback to their teams or colleagues can share valuable knowledge with each other. This strengthens the informal flow of knowledge in the company enormously. With a corporate communications app, every employee has an individual dashboard in which all the information relevant to him or her is brought together in a uniform application. The individual employee no longer has to search for it for a long time and therefore always feels well informed. This increases the bond with the company.
- Continuing Vocational Training: Digitalisation will also have a positive effect on lifelong learning (article in german) in a company. In the future, learning opportunities will not only be available faster and independent of location. Using an app, employees can make new knowledge available to themselves whenever they need it or when they are ready to do so. In this way, learning can be perfectly integrated into any situation and your own work-life balance. This means that companies are well prepared for the future, as knowledge becomes obsolete faster and faster. This makes it all the more important to provide employees with a tool that allows them to access the latest know-how at any time. They can then integrate this directly into their everyday work.
Opportunities of Digitalisation
The digital transformation not only improves communication in companies in many ways and has a positive impact on the corporate and learning culture. What’s more, if digitalisation is lived out properly within a company, it naturally leads to the implementation of a learning culture and cultural change within the organisation.
In brief, the advantages of digital transformation can be summarized as follows:
- Information is permanently available: Using digital tools, employees have access to relevant information around the clock. On this basis, decisions can be made more reliably and quickly.
- Mobility: Users today have access to networks, products and services wherever they are. This makes it easier to work on the road or across locations. This way projects do not come to a standstill.
- Powerful Technologies: Technologies are evolving rapidly and many tools that were in their infancy a few years ago have now outgrown them. They provide reliable and very precise functions for every working area. The hardware on which they run is also becoming increasingly reliable and faster. Even the largest amounts of data can now be sent from A to B within a few seconds. This accelerates business processes considerably.
- Social Virtualization: Social networks enable real-time communication in various ways. In the news stream, via chat or direct message. Social networking is now also conquering professional life. Known and accepted experiences from the private sector are thus also available in the business environment.
Major Advantages of Social Virtualization:
- All employees can be informed about current events and receive feedback at any time.
- This strengthens employee loyalty because they feel included and thus directly affects the company’s own employer brand.
- In addition, training content can be shared quickly and reliably via a social corporate network.
- This promotes the learning culture in a company, strengthens employee commitment and enables targeted upskilling and reskilling.
The Dangers of Digitalisation
The digital transformation also has its dark sides. Where a lot of data is transferred, hackers are not far away. Cybercriminals are targeting business-critical data that can harm companies. For example, by spying out important internal information and blackmailing them into making it public. In other cases, access to business-critical applications is spied out, blocked and only unblocked again in exchange for immense ransom payments.
This makes it all the more important to sound out and close all the data crime hotspots. But not all companies are aware of existing weaknesses in their security infrastructure. For example, employees appreciate the modern possibilities of communication. They have become so accustomed to using Facebook and WhatsApp at home that they want to take advantage of them at work as well.
However, in the absence of suitable communication apps for the business environment, they often use their own hardware and software. So instead of using a secure enterprise app, they rely on WhatsApp and other apps to communicate in real time. This entails considerable risks.
- Employees who handle sensitive or confidential information on a daily basis risk data breaches.
- WhatsApp and other apps are not compliant with legal requirements in a professional context. Personal data can easily be exposed.
- Private messenger services are problematic because they send messages to contacts that are stored on the phone’s hard drive.
- If a contact changes his or her number without informing the sender, highly sensitive data can be inadvertently sent to the wrong recipient as soon as the number is reassigned.
- If critical photos are transmitted, for example of contracts, there is a risk that these are automatically stored in the personal cloud environment of the recipient.
- WhatsApp has an appropriate default setting for this issue and barely anyone disables it.
- Unauthorized third parties from the private environment of the recipient may then have access to this data.
- This is a clear breach of the basic data protection regulation.
This example shows very clearly that the advantages that digital transformation brings can be exploited with the right tools, ultimately turning them into the opposite.
Digitalisation opens up many opportunities, but also carries risks. This makes it all the more important that it is seen as an integral part of corporate strategy and is not pursued as a sideline. Usually, it takes place in three phases.
- Phase One: Developing digital understanding. Within this framework, companies are exploring new possibilities for providing digital support for their own business processes. The selection of digital tools is carried out under consideration of various IT security criteria and data protection.
- Phase Two: After the implementation of specific technology, the employees are trained. After that it can be used throughout the country. Staff training should also include aspects of IT security and data protection.
- Phase Three: The third phase corresponds to the actual digital transformation. It is characterised by the fact that the new technology replaces the previous one.
Digitalisation does not stop at any area. It covers all industries and penetrates all areas of a company. Since the development of the smartphone, a new digital piece of the mosaic has been added: The mobility. It is no longer possible to imagine any field of application without it.
A very recent example is mobile learning – employees are on the move more than ever before. This makes it all the more relaxed when they can devote themselves to their own further training during periods of idleness. This is becoming more and more important because knowledge in the digital age is becoming outdated faster and faster. But this only works if the educational units are always available in an employee app on the smartphone.