For a solid decade now, (more or less) business has been digital. On the leading edge of development are companies like Spotify and Amazon that have upended the competitive landscapes of the music industry and retailing respectively. Yet many companies have only gone as far as offering a digital façade to the external world, using mobile apps and websites to reach out to customers. Too many are moving too slowly when it comes to being digital on the inside.
By digital on the inside we mean two things. First, using digital to improve all aspects of operations—from the front to the backend. And secondly, using it to boost the performance of individual employees. In the Nordics, a region known for being ahead of the game when it comes to IT infrastructure, culture and all areas surrounding digital adoption there’s a window of opportunity to embrace digital on the inside and gain real competitive advantage. But the time for action is now.
Employers playing “wait and see”
The conditions seem right for fully embracing digital. In fact, according to a new study by Accenture, 78 percent of business leaders expect their organizations to be a digital business in the next three years. And 73 percent of employees understand that digital technologies will transform their way of working.
So Nordic companies should be leading the charge when it comes to embracing digital inside, right? Wrong. The research shows that nearly half (43 percent) feel that their companies could do more to benefit from digital technologies. Yet many of these same companies are hesitating when it comes to fully embracing digital. What’s driving this “wait and see” strategy? It could be that employers don’t think their workforce is ready to go fully digital. But they couldn’t be more wrong.
Workforce as digital enabler
Research results paint a picture of a workforce that is positive toward the impact of digital—and even more ready to embrace it in the workforce than top management. Far from being an obstacle, employees in the Nordic region can enable the acceleration of the uptake of digital.
In fact, the research showed that a scant amount (9 percent) of Nordic employees see their job prospects being limited by digital technologies. And even less think it will have a negative impact (7 percent.) When it comes to automation and robotics, the pop culture view can be filled with gloomy predictions: with machines taking over humans. The reality is that automation can augment workers— making them mentally more agile (with things like automated virtual assistants) and physically stronger (through wearables that improve bodily performance.)
And Nordic employees understand the potential of digital even more than their counterparts around the world. Less than half as many in the Nordic workforce survey vs the global sample (14 percent vs 35 percent) have concerns about robots taking over their jobs. What’s more, Nordic employees are proactively learning new digital tools and technical skills (70 percent.)
The Accenture research shows that leaders understand the digital horizon...partly…