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What Corona teaches us about digitalization
  • Christopher Offenthaler
  • 2022-12-31

»Corona and digitalization«

What Corona teaches us in terms of digitization ...

In the media these days you often hear sentences like this (or similar):

"The corona virus offers us the opportunity to advance Austria in digitization."

But what does that mean? The advancing technologization? Hardly, because it is happening exponentially – similar to the unbridled spread of the COVID 19 virus – and has not only arrived through the appearance of the virus.

Rather, it

is to be understood that WE – as individuals, executives such as employees, business people and consumers, grandparents, parents and children – were literally forced by the abruptly and externally interrupted flow of life as we were used to it, to deal with the already existing possibilities of digitization. 

Home office alone does not make a digital company ...

The smallest possible impact is the access to the IT of our company via remote or VPN, the participation in meetings via telephone conference, video call and much more, the joint processing of documents and tasks despite spatial separation up to the holding of online training events. Corona  has forced us – which we were able to avoid quite well before – to deal with the technical features of modern applications. 5-day-a-week home office (previously completely unthinkable), a concomitant, significantly increased personal responsibility in daily work and also in the demarcation to the private are further effects of this.  

But the application of modern possibilities of (tele-) communication is only the beginning. Thus, WE are sufficiently "mechanized" for the 21st century and thus  – quite apart from the social component – no longer dependent on direct physical contact. Nevertheless: the beginning has been made, the first hurdle has been taken. Et voilà, the Mind is set. Or at least – albeit compulsorily and only partially – realigned. 

   Because if we no longer have to use our energy on the application of (now state-of-the-art) technology & tools, we can focus on how we can use the possibilities of digitization profitably for our company. Even or especially in this phase. And the following applies:

The quality of the question determines the quality of the answer ...

Unfortunately, digitization does not always take place in the green field . As a rule, we are dealing with grown and often adapted processes in grown structures. Nevertheless, or precisely because of this, it is worth consistently asking the right = effective questions at this point – from classics to "out-of-the-box".

Because even with the questions we raise, the following applies: input determines output. Their quality determines 1:1 the quality of the answers we (can) give ourselves. 

Due to the current situation, these are primarily questions about our processes and procedures – because they are most obvious and most likely equipped with short-term leverage in relation to cultural topics or even questions about the business model.

»Toolset« | question block #1 – our processes & procedures 

Based on the experience of the disruption in our processes and habitual routines caused by Covid-19:

Where | in
  • what context | in which process (part) have the greatest difficulties and problems come to light due to the separation from the usual working environment?

  • Which processes are occupying us most at the moment?

  • Where do we literally "grab our right ear with our left hand"?


  • To what extent are these processes relevant to our company (= core processes)?

  • How much time does it take to deal with our core processes compared to complex but unprofitable secondary processes?

Furthermore – assuming that the next big crisis would already be "lurking around the corner" ...

  • ... How must our (core) processes and procedures be designed so that a new and "seemingly unpredictable" massive interruption á la Corona cannot surprise us again?

  • ... Which parts of the process have we already embedded in our core systems – compared to paper or paper-based activities and controls?

  • ... which process parts or controls can we already safely omit or replace them with more efficient, targeted ones?

  •  ... Which process parts have we already automated – e.g. by using robotics or targeted solutions from external partners and providers?

  •  ... What offers and possibilities for simplifying and automating the process parts that affect us in our area of responsibility already exist – internally and externally?

And last but not least, and even if we are no longer used to thinking in this category – assuming that we have a wish for a fairy godmother and no limitations ...  

  • ... what would our processes and procedures look like then?

  • ... How would we design our processes so that they are both crisis-proof, highly efficient and end-to-end?

  • ... how would the online giants Google and Amazon (among others) – which are crisis-proof in this situation – shape our processes?

In a further step, we can – detached from the technical equipment – put our abilities – both as individuals and as teams – to the test with questions like these. 

»Skillset« | question block #2 – our abilities ...

  • individually as well as as a team/company:

  • What skills do we already have that enable or even facilitate our work in a digital environment?

  • What (unimagined) abilities have we discovered through the "virtual", separate work in the crisis?

  • What solutions have we found? How did we find them?

  • What challenges have we overcome? What enabled us to do so?

  • What can we do today that did not work "yesterday" or even seemed impossible?

  • What skills do we already have that we can confidently and confidently fall back on in the future and that optimally support us in the challenges of digitization?

  • Which skills do we still need to develop in a targeted manner? How and by when?

One lesson from this undoubtedly massive situation is certainly that we are (again and again) able to cope with crises and manage them successfully. The great lesson we should learn from this, however, is that at any time and – with all our experience, our foresight and our skill – massive changes can come over us from a completely unexpected direction. And then it is actually "eaten as hot as cooked". 

Conclusion | advantage |  benefit ...

Right now, uneconomical, complicated and outdated processes and procedures are becoming apparent. Especially now, as long as the impression of "Corona" is still fresh, we should devote more time to repairing or even better optimally designing these processes along our business purpose.

The advantage of this is that we are not in the familiar (office) environment and thus automatically have a different view of things. Because the location also determines the point of view. 

The great benefit is that we now have great suffering to tackle routine, partly cherished as well as tolerably accepted process quirks and escapades. And thus to achieve lean processes using all technological possibilities available on the market or even to completely rethought processes.

The corporate vaccine against the crisis ...

The above questions can help us to cushion the effects of such a crisis or, and this must be the goal, to become largely independent of it. As a corporate vaccine, so to speak, against COVID 19 and subsequent crises. Because...

...  after the crisis is before the crisis!