Three smart moves to capitalise on the digital economy
Digital transformation has shifted numerous elements of business into a new space where data and technology reign supreme. Business academics and economists believe that this lends greater weight to the growing digital economy, which may soon become the dominant system as interconnectedness between people, organisations and machines continues to strengthen. Businesses that act now to capitalise on the digital economy will be better prepared to compete in the changing landscape, according to SAP Concur.
The digital economy refers to business-related activity that occurs via online or digital connections between people, businesses and devices. It has been typically associated with communications, e-commerce, digital banking and other clear examples of financial value being generated through digital activity. However, the digital economy has grown as new technology emerges, influencing business operations and how people obtain and consume goods, services and information.
According to Fabian Calle, managing director small and medium business, SAP Concur ANZ, it’s time to act.
“Companies that continue to sit back and speculate on how they might be affected by the digital economy may already be at risk of missing out on significant business development. The time for speculation is over. Now is the time to act to ensure survival in this shift in economic culture. There are numerous simple actions that companies can take to ensure a stable foundation in the digital economy, and to ensure efficient operations as the economy and the business continue to evolve,” Calle said.
There are three ways businesses can prepare now to capitalise on the digital economy:
1. Audit current operations
The smartest and most important step is to take stock of the company’s current ability to prosper in a digital economy. This will let organisations determine where the gaps are and how to address them.
Businesses that wish to capitalise on the digital economy must review what processes are still conducted manually to see if they can be digitised. Fortunately, the availability of new technology gives most of today’s business operations a degree of digital functionality.
It is important to identify and review processes and activities that may have been overlooked. This could be because they have become part of the daily norm or have never been reviewed because they were a major part of a team member’s job. The types of activities this could include are: paper invoicing; in-person orders at a supplier; cheques and non-vital documents sent via mail; or managing schedules and tracking billable hours in a hard copy system. These activities may be costing more time, money and resources to perform than it would take to review how they can be digitised for long-term business stability and efficiency.
2. Invest in intelligence
Once an audit has revealed where best to capitalise on the digital economy, the next move is to invest in the infrastructure and technology necessary to make the digital transformation possible. Business expense management, for example, can be automated with reliable cloud-based software that can: capture spending from multiple sources; plan and make spending decisions based on accurate data; reimburse employees more quickly; and simplify the expense reporting process for everyone.
Invoicing software can automate invoice processes while helping to monitor for inaccurate and duplicate invoices before they get paid. Effective invoicing technology also helps to eliminate late payments, manage cash outlays, streamline purchase requests and automate approvals.
3. Invest in training, upskilling and onboarding new team members
Despite the fundamental elements of the digital economy being technology and data, human beings still play an integral role that should not be taken for granted. Digital transformation automates many previously manual processes to achieve a more efficient and cost-effective outcome; however, technology without an operator and data without an interpreter are bad investments.
Troubleshooting, analysis and user experience are vital roles that need to be filled in a digital economy to ensure that businesses can leverage data and new technology into real benefits for employees and customers. Undergoing digital transformation without understanding how new technology can produce results for the real world will waste valuable time and resources.
To capitalise on the digital economy, businesses must review existing staff roles and identify if there are employees who could benefit from software training or other digital-related onboarding. New employees should also be hired with specific digital skillsets to better interpret and use data that could generate more in-depth business insights and improved efficiencies.
“With the digital economy now firmly embedded in the business landscape, businesses must understand their digital potential and act sooner rather than later to cement their place to achieve growth. This includes automating processes wherever possible, even if only in expense management to start with, using smart software solutions that will eliminate errors and free up staff members to focus on value-generating activities. This is where small steps in digital adoption can deliver significant and longer-term gains for business. Continually building on digital capabilities is the key to ongoing business resilience,” Calle said.
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