VPN problems, security gaps, overburdened employees – digitalization can be a tricky business. Especially in the current push of digital transformation, triggered by Covid-19, things can go wrong in the rush. To prevent this from happening, here is our little guide to digitalization for the time during and after the pandemic.
For a long time, digital transformation was the Cinderella of corporate tasks for many companies. Yes, you knew it was there and it wouldn’t go away, but you didn’t really want to deal with it. Then came Covid-19 – and that was the end of excuses. Suddenly, many employees at once had to use their home office in order to remain capable of acting as a company. As a result, the corona virus – for all its terrible health and social consequences – became an accelerator of digitalization.
The speed at which various business processes are suddenly digitalized is impressive, but also sometimes dangerous. There are a few stumbling blocks that can quickly turn the digital blessing into a curse. To ensure that you and your company do not stumble, we summarize seven common mistakes made during the digital transformation of our working world during the Corona pandemic – and at the same time show you solutions to avoid these mistakes.
There is no question that the Covid-19 pandemic has caught us all cold. Nevertheless, even in this situation, panic and acting hastily are not a sensible reaction, because such behavior can lead to unpleasant mistakes with even more unpleasant consequences. Especially in an extreme situation such as this, the following applies: in calm lies strength. Therefore, the first advice is to take your time. Take time for research, for comparison, for (self-)reflection, instead of falling into insecure and nonsensical actionism in the heat of the moment.
Suddenly they were there: hundreds of small, private networks, each of them a new source of danger for the company network. As a result of the widespread switch to home offices, people increasingly no longer work via the relatively secure company network with a well thought-out firewall, but use their own Internet accesses and thus a connection that is usually much less well protected. These potential security gaps must be recognized and actively prevented, for example by means of a reinforced firewall in the company network to prevent viruses from being introduced from the less secure, private network, or by providing business hardware that is set up according to current security standards. IT teams must also adapt to a new type of support and service. Moving outside the corporate environment also brings new issues regarding the home IT environment of employees and the need for remote support by the IT team as well as access to sensitive corporate data from home.
When we think of digitalization, the first association is usually: new tools! Unfortunately, we still neglect the most important success factor, the human factor, far too often. However, it is essential that the new tools are adapted to the people and teams of the company. Because a digital transformation can never be successful if your own team resists; all colleagues must be brought on board, all departments must pull together. It is therefore crucial for the success of your digital transformation to listen to the people in your company, to understand their needs, their way of thinking and their everyday processes. Only then can you research for useful tools to support all these aspects. And when implementing the tools, you must by no means leave people alone with the new, digital tools. In order to strengthen acceptance and competence and to take away the fear of change, you need to do two things regularly: communicate and train. Effective digitalization is first and foremost about developing people. Create awareness of the necessity and benefits of changing to digital, explain why lifelong learning and dynamism have positive consequences for the company and each individual, hold informative training sessions on the useful functions of the new tools – in short: practice smart change management.
Digitalization is not the same as using digital tools, but always requires good collaboration and open communication between people and teams. In the article How New Work and the Pandemic Change Our Working World you can read more about corporate culture, leadership culture and empowerment.
The VPN causes problems, so it’s better to transfer all data to the cloud – some companies drew this conclusion for themselves at the beginning of the Corona crisis. But switching off the virtual private network in favor of a cloud solution can have catastrophic consequences for data security. Not every cloud is equally secure and certainly not all data belongs in a cloud environment! The decisive factor here is the calm and level-headed evaluation of cloud solutions as well as other possible outsourcings, so that the bandwidth-limited VPN only has to be used when it is really necessary. For internal company information, personal data of the human resources department or, as in our case, the source code of a software, storage in a location secured by the VPN is mandatory. So say “yes” to the cloud, but proceed with caution.
Acting calmly, prudently and thoughtfully – doesn’t that conflict with the demand to act agile and above all fast? Very clear answer: No! After all, the biggest time guzzlers are usually not technical research, but rather the decision-making processes. Therefore, error number five is to not make existing working methods more agile. Processes are not an end in themselves, but rather they aim to make everyday work easier. It is no secret that unfortunately often the opposite is the case. If we want to act fast, agile and, above all, effectively, we must first and foremost be able to act or be enabled to act. Conventional decision-making processes across several hierarchical levels are no longer effective here. So, in addition to people and tools, take a look at your business processes and optimize them in terms of agility.
Do you still hope that everything will be the same as before the pandemic? The hard truth is that this is very unlikely. And perhaps not even desirable. After all, why shouldn’t we use all the new findings to make our working lives even better? The best and much-cited example here is the home office. Especially in the area of so-called knowledge work, people have realized that they can work from anywhere. Thanks to collaboration tools, teamwork is also possible from a distance. And not to forget: things went largely well in the home office during Corona, but it took place under various influences that are not part of “normal” work at home, like massive existential fears, children in homeschooling, only poorly equipped workplaces and upgradeable Internet. When evaluating the effectiveness of measures, we must never lose sight of the fact that they were carried out in an absolute state of emergency. But we can learn from experience. To do so, we must accept some of the changes as “New Normal” and further develop the structures. Then we can benefit from the current impetus, especially in the area of digitalization.
Yes, the digital transformation of a company is not the easiest task. And yes, you will make one or the other mistake. But you can learn from these mistakes, develop further on the basis of the findings and discover exciting new fields of action. The biggest mistake would be to ignore the opportunities that digitalization offers the working world, especially in times of crisis. Hence our advice at the end: have the courage to drive forward the digital transformation of your working world.