The 5 Myths of Digitization

“Everyone is talking about digitization. I want to be there too. “This is what many managers think and they start a project for the sake of technology, instead of thinking about the benefits that can be obtained from it. Such is the case with technology lovers and other contemporaries who read this blog.

Quote: “Everything will be fine, we just need a bit of digitization!”

The myth: Digitization is a miracle and can solve all problems.

Who said it: The miracle believer.

Why it is a myth: Digitization is not a magic bullet that does it all. Bad processes will remain bad processes even when digitized.

How to do it: Before the launch of a digitization project, it is vital to analyze the processes to be digitized and identify improvement potential. Only then will it be possible to examine the extent to which the improvements can be made within the framework of the digitization project or whether the processes need to be optimized first.

Quote: “Digital solutions are not the best option for my production staff. They have no desire to even type anything at the workstation. I do not need to introduce such modern stuff.”

The myth: Employees in production and assembly do not like to work with digital technology and prefer to stay with paper-based processes. Introducing digital technology to them is just a waste of time.

Who said it: The understanding manager.

Why it is a myth: the fact that existing solutions are frequently not used has less to do with the computer affinity of employees than with the often poor usability. In addition, existing workstations are commonly limited to a few central points, such that employees have to leave their workplace for data entry. This is often planned and implemented without considering the needs of the users and is therefore widely disliked.

How to deal with it: ask your employees before the start of the project what would make their daily work easier. Engage the users consistently in the projects from the outset. Let the users openly express their opinions and take their problems into consideration. Modern methods such as Design Thinking and the use of click dummies can help getting the right input. Also, regular user feedback is useful as part of an agile implementation in order to stay close to the needs of users. For those who are skeptical about whether “their” employees would actually use a digital solution, you should simply ask how many WhatsApp messages they believe “their” guys probably send to their loved ones or their football buddies in a day? The digital world has been changing for quite a while, just not on the job.

Quote: “Digital solutions are great, but if I have to give all my employees mobile Internet access, then we would bear the cost.”

The Myth: Digitization requires being online constantly

Who said it: The cheapskates

Why it is a myth: There are many reasons why a solution should be available offline and there are just as many ways to implement offline availability. Data can be collected locally and can be temporarily stored on the device until the next synchronization. Synchronization between server and app can occur as soon as the user logs in to a wireless network.

How to do it: Verify existing offline functionality when choosing a digital solution. Is it possible to synchronize data only if a Wi-Fi connection exists? At best, this can be set flexibly so that the user can decide for himself when and how to synchronize. If applications do not offer offline functionality, they should at least be economical with the data and only load when necessary and only on request.

Quote: “My industry is not yet ready for digitization. Our customers are not interested in digital solutions.”

The myth: Digitization is only relevant to customers

Who said it: The salesman

Why it is a myth: Whether an industry or its customers are ready for digitization is the wrong question to begin with. Instead one should ask which processes would actually benefit the most from digitization. Oftentimes it is not the ones involving the customer. The optimization of internal processes often brings higher added value.

How to deal with it: Be on the alert consistently for the potential benefits of digitization projects. Often, it is worthwhile to think about areas that are usually left out. An above-average improvement can frequently be achieved for areas which have not been optimized for a long time.

Quote: “The technology is great. We should carry out a project to find the right application area for it.”

The myth: When we first have the technology, the right idea will come to us.

Who said it: The technology lovers.

Why it is a myth: The benefits should be considered before any project. If a manager wants to carry out a digitization project on the basis of a “great technology”, then this consideration of benefits is obviously missing. Projects without tangible benefits for the company fail disproportionately.

How to do it: First, develop a digital strategy before projects are launched indiscriminately. Think about the challenges your industry has to face. Find out about trends and technologies and then think about how the challenges can be solved. After identifying problems and possible solutions, you should examine the costs and benefits and go in for an initial pilot project. If it works, you should then update your strategy with the knowledge obtained and identify the relevant projects. Again, the focus should be on the benefits, not the technology, however attractive it may be.

So do not be deterred by technology lovers and understanding managers, by miracle believers and cheapskates. Digitization is neither a magic bullet nor simply a cool technology. It is a means to an end – to achieve the highest possible benefit for your company. Therefore, one should approach digitization as well as other projects, objectively, well-planned and with a clearly defined goal.

© Christine Geier from Tablet Solutions