Imagine a world without mobile solutions: smartphones, laptops, email, or Skype. Imagine a corporate desk without a network-enabled printer; a factory without an assembly line; travelling without airplanes; or trading without cashless payments.
These are but some of the changes in our lives prompted by the era of digital technology in the last 20 years. The scale of the changes and their impact on economic growth has been enormous and multi-faceted, spanning business operations and personal lives, products and services, public administration, and e-commerce. Digital accounting as a new benchmark, digital marketing
tools, broadcasters focusing on pay-per-view, book publishers (the industry seems to be strictly non-digital!) massively investing in print-by-request solutions: in every industry, digital technology is creating new business opportunities. And these opportunities rely on us: clients, consumers, users, and our changing behaviour.
It would be naive to claim that digitisation only provides benefits or always spells success in business. It does not. Just as the industrial revolution stoked new concerns and posed new threats, the networked world opens the door to new kinds of digital fraud. It is a natural consequence which has engendered natural defence mechanisms that include cybersecurity systems. Economies and businesses are a living organism which keeps on learning to prevent undesired side effects. Car accidents never stopped the development of the motor industry; digitisation also offers more opportunities than threats.
According to experts, digitisation could be a major driving force of the Polish economy. Analysts at McKinsey estimate that digital business could add PLN 275bn to Poland’s GDP by 2025. The correlation between innovation and macroeconomic growth is old news. The world’s biggest economies boast the biggest capex dedicated to R&D and new technology. Just look at South Korea, the USA, or Germany.
Nonetheless, investing in digital technology is not art for art’s sake. It is (only) a tool which optimises processes to make them swifter and more efficient, or which provides new opportunities for growth, often by enabling new business models. Any change – digital or otherwise – should be driven by specific business needs: to improve quality, increase engagement, raise efficiency, and cut lead times. The more specific the objective, the easier it is to estimate benefits and select the right tools. If your company processes 10 thousand invoices per year, and the average processing time is 15 minutes per item, you can easily compute the actual savings generated by infrastructure that would automate accounting, processing, and record keeping. That is only one example. A company of any size – a large cap, an SME, or a micro-firm – continuously executes scores of simple and complex processes.
Innovation: Opportunities and Barriers
There are many opportunities for enhancing Poland’s innovative edge, from the simplification of administrative regulations to private sector efforts for creating necessary conditions encouraging collaboration between researchers and startups. However, the common denominator of innovation is cutting-edge technology, which drives development and provides a litmus test for modern economies.
Digitisation is a complex process. It always starts with ambitious goals pursued in line with a clear vision. The bottom line, however, are people: employees who use new solutions in their daily work and have to find their bearings in the new digital economy. According to a World Economic Forum report, 130 million new AI and IoT jobs will emerge globally by 2022. Reskilling is becoming a must. Combined with the development of new digital competences, employees can adapt to the new normal, which opens great development opportunities for everyone. All we need is to be ready.