04/08/20Digital office: opportunities for modern working

In the course of the significantly accelerated digitization, the working environment is changing vastly. Under the keyword Digital Office, Mircea Prelipceanu – Head of International Sales at CAS Software AG – will take a look at the implications and changing ways of the modern workspace.

Mircea Prelipceanu, Head of International Sales

Question: Mr. Prelipceanu, through your profession you come daily in contact with different companies and business cultures all over the world. What is the current status in terms of Digital Office and what are the plans for the near future? 
When we talk about the Digital Office, some people will inevitably, in view of the current world situation, think about home office or mobile office. But in fact, the fields of action of the Digital Office are substantially broader. It’s really about the digitalization of everyday work in all its aspects: documents, data, knowledge, and processes. Employees work together on the same projects and activities from separate locations, documents and approval processes enable compliance with standards and specifications, and customer relationships are managed without shortening.

As is so often the case, change is driven by both positive and negative experiences. But in recent times, companies’ wish and will to change was not so big because they were just doing very well and many had too few resources to take action in this direction. Kind of “no time to be efficient” paradox.

Nevertheless, it is really satisfying to see that the Digital Office concept is advancing steadily in many businesses. Fueled by the current Corona pandemic situation, we are presently experiencing an absolute acceleration of digitalization. The transition from the analog, paper-based processes to digital ones, together with tightening the interoperability between companies’ departments, branch offices, and even external parties such as customers, suppliers and business partners, ensure and enable efficient, automated processes. We observed also, based on several results from market surveys on the Digital Office topic that depending on the business sector, company size, and other attributes, there are significant differences in terms of speed and relevance of digitalization.

One of our main goals at CAS Software AG is to make the small and medium-sized enterprises aware about the opportunities offered by digitalization and the essential need for it. On the other side, SMEs need to take action and invest in digitalization (time and resources), because only this way will they be well prepared for the future and will be able to achieve sustainable success. In this digital context, the incorporation of CRM/XRM aspects is playing a key role, demonstrating the real-world possibilities of the Customer Centricity corporate vision.

Question: What role does CRM play in the Digital Office? Maintaining and building interpersonal relationships is crucial to the process of engaging with customers, resellers and suppliers, and retaining them as long-term business partners. 
From a Customer Centricity perspective, it is crucial to focus on the customer and to create positive experiences. Exactly this important business aspect, the digitalization of customer relationship management, will enable companies to record customers’ wishes and their specific needs in a structured way.

Building on this base, each individual counseling, trustful dialogue, and cooperation on an equal footing will be adapted to the specific requirements of the customer. The goal is always to generate added value, both for your customer and for your business. Only in this way, sustainable success will become possible.

But be careful: digitalization does not mean that personal interaction with the customer is eliminated. Rather, it is about providing the best support possible to employees when interacting and working with customers, resellers, and suppliers.

I am convinced that in the future the employees of a company will use more digital assistants in their daily work, including support from customer-centric systems. Such digital ‘think along’ assistants will remind you of important dates, deadlines, meetings and will give advice on the next steps in a sales opportunity, by recommending a specific interaction with the customer. They can also make it easy to look for documents and replace time-consuming searching for data by intelligently putting together all the information. Nevertheless or in fact because of this, the interpersonal human contact will play a fundamental role. Digitalization does not replace direct contact, but rather utilizes automation to deliver freedom and flexibility in getting the optimal information as a base for interpersonal engagement.

Question: Cloud solutions, mobile apps, mobile office - what does the modern IT infrastructure look like and what should one watch out for?
A modern infrastructure provides businesses and the respective users with full flexibility. There are good reasons for operating your own infrastructure (private cloud or on premise), accessible from anywhere in the world, as well as there are also arguments for deploying one or more pure cloud solutions in a business.

In view of the current situation, the possibility of mobile working has become a key aspect for many businesses. The modern solutions provide access to data, enable teams to work together continuously and deliver knowledge in a structured form. But, maintaining data security is crucial. Only when data security is assured can the sensitive customer data and documents be processed fully digitally in compliance with the law and be stored in a central repository. From this aspect, the introduction and use of such solutions in the Digital Office are of growing importance.

Question: How important are digital sovereignty and data protection?
Data about customers, products, patents, and much more, are among a company's most valuable assets. For this reason, securing this knowledge is of fundamental importance. Despite being accessible anytime and from anywhere, protection against unauthorized access must be guaranteed at all times. When dealing with data, it is extremely important to provide a secure digital infrastructure. Quality seals such as ‘Software hosted and made in EU’ and data security certificates offer a good basis of validation, as vendors acquire them to commit and ensure that their data centers adhere to particularly high security standards. Compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (EU-GDPR) is relevant not only in terms of the trustworthiness of the vendor, but also as an indicator for companies about how, where and in which way they store data in order to protect it from unauthorized access by third parties, such as foreign secret services.

Question: The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how rapidly everyday working life can change. What are your thoughts on that, and what is the importance of the Digital Office?
One thing is clear: the Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating the spread of the Digital Office and makes everyone aware of its necessity. After all, it helps preventing the further spread of the virus, while maintaining an efficient everyday work routine. Companies were forced to deploy employees from one day to the next in the home office or mobile office and needed the corresponding right IT systems, tools and processes to do so. It became quite clear which companies had in recent years been working and investing in the digitalization of processes, including appropriate knowledge transfer for employees and their mindset.

Definitively, this sudden shift was easier to be done for innovative and digitally well-prepared companies. The potential for such changes in working practices has definitely become obvious, and has now been addressed. This relates to the processes and systems that automatically exchange data and actively report information reducing user interaction. All this put employees into different working positions allowing them to have time for essential tasks and topics.

For all other companies, the Digital Office will be an important milestone on their way to optimizing operations and achieving sustainable success in the future. Systems such as CRM/XRM will help here and enable a quick return on investment. All in all, the Digital Office offers a wide range of potential that should not go unused.

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