“The pandemic is a great opportunity for digitalisation!”
The Entrepreneurship in the New Reality – Sixth Webinar
On Tuesday, February 23rd, the sixth webinar in Entrepreneurship in the New Reality program took place. We hosted Michael Goldberg from Case Western Reserve University (US), Urška Saletinger from Abelium (SI) and Mario Spremić from GEA College and the University of Zagreb (HR). The webinar was moderated by Jure Verhovnik from 4PDIH (SI).
The guests discussed the development and changes in digitalisation in 2020. The focal point of the debate was how the current crisis is actually giving entrepreneurs a great opportunity to take even greater advantage of digitalisation. We also learnt that companies and organisations should keep better pace with the development of technology. During the webinar, the guests also received some very interesting and in-depth questions from the attendees.
The Entrepreneurship in the New Reality program brings together top local, regional and US experts who, in a series of 10 free moderated webinars, provide the audience with professional know-how and share entrepreneurial experience in order to encourage entrepreneurs to grow, prosper and find new business methods for the future. The program is organised by GEA College Ljubljana with the cooperation of the Embassy of the United States of America in Slovenia.
How has the pandemic affected digitalisation?
Digitalisation had been waiting for the perfect moment to shine and, with Covid-19, it finally arrived. With its huge capacity to help us fight the issues brought about by the pandemic, digitalisation has been placed under the spotlight and rightfully so. Internet services have seen rises in usage from 40% to 100% when compared to pre-lockdown levels. Video-conferencing services like Zoom have seen a ten times increase in usage, and content delivery services like Akamai have seen a 30% increase in content usage (Branscombe, 2020). According to a new McKinsey Global Survey of executives, their companies have accelerated the digitalisation of their customer and supply chain interactions, as well as their internal operations, by 3 to 4 years.
But have we managed to exploit digital tools and platforms to their full potential?
Mario Spremić: “There is no doubt that pandemic actually opened the door for digitalisation’s bloom. Just take a look at how our businesses and other activities are being run – we live in a Zoom/Webex/Temas era, basically. So, we have in a way been forced to fully use the tools that had been available in order to keep things as normal as we could. And the technology had to develop further even more in a short period of time.”
Will the way of doing business go back to pre-pandemic times after the crisis?
The pandemic has proved to be a reality check for various businesses that have been somehow reluctant to go digitally transform their business models, etc. Those who were better prepared have been dealing with the situation better and will most likely come out as winners. Those companies and organisations that had been working on digital transformation prior to the pandemic will most likely thrive and have a significant competitive edge after the crisis.
“I just read the McKinsey survey on how business travels will change after the pandemic. It is expected to have about 30% less of these kinds of travels in the future, so this is the first sign of what the new way of doing business could look like,” said Michael Goldberg.
Even during the pandemic, we have noticed companies already trying a so-called new way of doing business and adapting. There is more remote work, for example, so this will also have an impact on how they will approach business. Many organisations have come to realise that a combination of online and offline ways of doing business is actually the best and most efficient way.
Urška Saletinger: “My impression is we are all hungry for human interactions and nothing will ever change that. I believe we will start building more on human-centric approaches in all areas which we work in, for example, from our homes in order to balance life and work. What we have to do after the pandemic is find the best possible combination of using technology and real life; we cannot get stuck behind the computers for too long.”
What are the advantages digitalisation is bringing to business?
Digitalisation is a process that helps companies and organisations adapt business processes to new digital technologies. The extent to which we can now use different kinds of technologies that were developed independently of each other is staggering. For every part of our business process, we can obtain crucial data and analyse it.
“Companies are becoming more and more data-driven and rightfully so. This gives them an opportunity to question the existing business processes and helps them then to rethink and to innovate new ways, new approaches in a very short period of time with significantly less money than before,” concluded Mario Spremić.
New technologies normally cost money and start-ups cannot afford them all. What path should young companies take in order to exploit technology to the fullest?
Urška Saletinger: “One thing the pandemic brought us is this open mindset of sharing. Open source is now more than welcome and so many great, free-of-charge tools are available that can really help start-ups from the beginning. Just take Google platform, for example. So if I was in a start-up, I would spend some time researching and looking for the most appropriate tools that do not cost much or are even for free.”
“Technologies and tools are now very accessible so there is no excuse in not using them. What I would recommend to young entrepreneurs though is do not bet everything on the tech. You still want to ask your customers for feedback; you still want to go out and meet your business partners, etc.,” added Michael Goldberg.
After a very interesting hour, the guests summed up that the learning, unlearning and relearning will be the most important competencies in the future in order to stay relevant in a more and more digitally driven world. But technology is just one part of the equation, so start-ups and other companies should focus on human resources too and, of course, help them develop skills to be able to use the technology to a company’s advantage.
Let us invite you to the seventh webinar: Is cyber-security the future of business? On 2nd March at 5.30 PM CET. In this free webinar, we will focus on the potential of cybersecurity in times of emerging online business and services – when our lives are running online 24/7, which has been further enhanced during the pandemic, confirming the importance and urgency of this topic. Guests on this panel will include Melissa Hathaway (Hathaway Global Strategies, US), Maurice Dawson (Illinois Institute of Technology, US), and Denis Čaleta (GEA College, SI) who will present the opportunities that cybersecurity presents in business and discuss differences between the US and Slovenia (Europe) regarding the industry.
We will also talk about the societal aspects of cybersecurity. The moderator of the webinar will be Igor Hostnik (Actual I.T., US).
You can apply here:
Module 7 – Is cybersecurity the future of business?
We are proud to be part of this great program that will be carried out in partnership with:
This project was funded, in part, through a U.S. Embassy grant. The opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the Authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of State.
Entrepreneurship in the New Reality is a tailored-made project, aimed at sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas among entrepreneurs in the times of new reality. It aims to promote cross-national collaboration, facilitate the development of new business and enhance Trans-Atlantic perspectives.