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The epidemic is often touted as a catalyst for digitization, but how did Swedish companies actually develop?

As many as 76 percent of companies did not have all the tools needed to work digitally when the pandemic broke out. This is evidenced by the new Telia Digital Index report, which every year demonstrates the willingness of Swedish companies to take advantage of the possibilities of digitalization. The companies were interviewed from January to February 2021.

Above all, there was a lack of cooperation tools. But in general, businesses, regardless of their size, became more digital during the year of the pandemic. When companies were “forced” into remote work and new business models, many took big steps forward, says Daniel Stark, head of strategy and business development at Telia.

“The risk of successful companies being defeated”

At the same time, the digital divide is widening. The new report showed that the proportion of high digital companies increased from 22 percent before the pandemic to 28 percent today, while low-end digital companies did not decline at the corresponding rate.

This means that nearly 220,000 Swedes in 70,000 companies have made a digital breakthrough. Unfortunately, many low-end digital companies remain at roughly the same level, which is worrying. Daniel Stark says:

Digital divides create economic divides. Therefore, a very important societal issue is that we work to support digital low-end companies so they can catch up.

More remote work in large companies

Larger companies are generally more mature digitally than smaller companies. It is also common for large companies to operate remotely during a pandemic. 65 percent of companies with at least 50 employees answered that “most or most of them” have worked remotely. Only 6 percent stated that they did not work remotely at all.

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Daniel Stark, Head of Strategy and Business Development at Telia.
Daniel Stark, Head of Strategy and Business Development at Telia.

Of the smallest companies, with up to 9 employees, 29 percent answered that they had no remote work – and the majority say the pandemic has not accelerated their digitization.

Larger companies have largely automated workflows for routine tasks like billing and order management – but also to collect data about their customers and conduct marketing with accurate offers, says Daniel Stark.

According to the Telia Digital Index, 62 percent of the largest companies have automated operations – compared to 36 percent of the smallest companies.

A high feature of digital companies is that they completely simplify their business so that they can spend maximum time on their business. It takes an outside view of your company and prioritizes automation. Firms with lower numbers tend to focus more in the short term on finding new customers.

This is how low-end digital systems can catch up

The main benefits are reduced administration time and lower overall cost, according to companies listed on the Telia Digital Index.

Many companies also emphasize simplicity: having a resource to turn to regardless of questions and problems. Another strength, Daniel Stark says, is having a partner to build relationships and grow digitally.

Daniel Stark’s main advice for companies that are backing away from digital technologies is to “choose the hanging fruit”.

Map what is stealing your time and energy, and what’s causing friction with your company. Feel free to ask suppliers and customers. I turn to experts in digitization. Find out how the competitors operate.

According to Daniel Stark, the usual time thieves are the bills and accounting that are handled manually.

Start by automating and simplifying what takes the most time. When you run out of time, an “interest effect on interest” is created and you have time to take the next step.

Dare to look ahead is another piece of advice:

– During the pandemic, many companies have had to be “here and now” to solve an emergency. Companies that now dare to think long-term, and perhaps invest in new digital solutions, have a lot to gain. Also focus on how you want to meet clients digitally. It’s becoming increasingly important to be able to integrate seamlessly with your company: make an appointment, get answers in chat, request a product and so on.

This is what most digital companies do: a resource for all technologies

The third tip is to review the company’s technology landscape.

It is not uncommon for there to be four to five suppliers of corporate information technology, telecommunications and telephony. But there will be many contacts, bills, and agreements to keep track of – and sometimes services and products that don’t complement each other optimally. Additionally, costs are easily offset by different suppliers. When problems arise, it can be difficult to know which support office to contact – something that steals time and creates frustration.

Telia’s digital benchmark shows that just under half of companies choose to hire a major ICT supplier.

The trend is very clear among the digital high-end companies. 60 percent have such a complete solution and another 21 percent answer that they care.

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