Technology gives perspective – Focus Online

Digitization and technology have become an integral part of our contemporary society. Companies have already entered the digital age for some time, but do not always find a comfortable place in the great technological forest. As a result, opportunities are missed.

After weathering the storm that triggered the global pandemic, companies now need to take cover again. The so-called ‘war for talent’ is raging at full force and giving strong headwinds. It exacerbated the recurring problem of staff shortages linked to a mismatch between supply and demand in the labor market.

However, Tom Van Mierlo, digital strategist and co-owner of full-service digital agency iO (formerly Intracto) sees one clear trend: digital frontrunners adapt easily to these changing circumstances. “Digitalisation and technology have an impact on the entire function of your organisation. From external touchpoints via sales and marketing over the internal processes to your HR policy. Marketing and IT must work together more than ever with a strong strategy at the bottom.” Anyone who has previously invested in this can easily follow when the playing field changes. If you look even further ahead, you lead the dance, analyzes Van Mierlo. “If you as a company take a well-thought-out approach to digitization, you will quickly reap the benefits. Your operations will be more efficient, your employees will be more satisfied with their jobs and become ambassadors for your brand.” Process optimization is not new. But today we are once again experiencing a kind of wave movement, says Tom Van Mierlo. “Many companies today already have their processes in order, but at the same time they still lack many options.”

In her white paper A breakthrough in the glaring staff shortage requires a new perspective writes the Dutch researcher Esther Oprins (from the independent research organization TNO), that many functions can be fully or partially filled by technology. “We roughly distinguish between three trends in which technology is changing our society and also our way of working: automation and digitization (computers, computing power, algorithms), virtualization and hyper-connectivity (internet, mobile devices, simulation) and autonomization and artificialization (robots , AI, autonomous systems).We are currently in an era where these three waves are converging and offering ever greater opportunities to do our work faster, better, more flexibly, more securely and more efficiently.

By developing a more technological profile, organizations also gain a ‘hip’ image”.

– Esther Oprins, TNO

The process often starts from a problem, according to Van Mierlo. “Digitalization is not an end in itself, but it is an important and sustainable long-term process that requires careful strategic thinking.” Too often people still think and work from different silos. Marketing, sales, production and HR each have their own basic process, but no bridges have been built between those islands, observes Van Mierlo. “Efficiency gains are sometimes on the horizon, but often you need an external view to see clearly as a company.”

Technology that supports the employee or performs tasks that people are less able to perform helps them do the job better, more efficiently and more safely, according to Oprins. “If the work becomes less complex, there will also be more available on the labor market for this work. By developing a more technological profile, organizations also gain a ‘hip’ image. It can have a positive impact on attracting and retaining employees.”

Very often it’s more a matter of mentality than technology, notes Van Mierlo. “The pandemic has introduced many companies to e-commerce. It gave some companies a boost that had an impact on all parts of the company. Some were ready for it, others had to take steps in a hurry.” It sometimes led – literally – to a transformation where people who enter orders all day long have now been turned into data specialists. Whether this boost will also prove to be sustainable remains to be seen. Due to the urgent nature – due to the pandemic – the strategic long-term story was sometimes left out.“We still have a long way to go in terms of digital maturity,” concludes Van Mierlo.

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