IT modernization can be easily explained with the metaphor of an old building. If you live in an old house, you have to get by with some quirks and smaller – perhaps even lovable – defects:
- the walls may be a little crooked
- some rooms strangely nooks and crannies and also unsuitably small
- the steps of the cellar stairs are different heights
If you wanted to correct all of that, you would probably have made a better decision to build a new one. But these types of quirks make up the charm of living in an old building. But there are also more serious shortcomings that should not be romanticized.
For example, when it comes to outdated fuses, building materials that are harmful to health or ailing water pipes – there is an urgent need for action. And if the heating keeps failing in winter, you don’t wait until next summer to renovate it.
How does IT fit into this picture? Amazingly, ailing IT is still quite often assigned to the first type of (minor) deficiency. The IT modernization appears either too complex – or as a threat to the traditional feeling of living. Both fears of renovation are unfounded and, in view of the advancing digitization, not very far-sighted.
The need for digital modernization cannot be overlooked
If you transfer such experiences from the private environment to the IT of SMEs in Germany, it quickly becomes clear why digital transformation projects can sometimes be tricky:
A mélange of nostalgia, skepticism about change and expected effort make the decision to renovate your own IT and bring it up to date more difficult.
No matter how outdated the IT system may be, it has been one of the cornerstones of the company’s success to date, which has often lasted for over 30 years, especially with German SMEs.
Some wistfully remember their first modem in the office or their first business email. That’s human – but not necessarily clever. Because there is an abundance of digital modernization needs!
Anyone who thinks that German medium-sized companies have already been sufficiently digitalized is wrong. And huge: the need for IT modernization is great. According to a Bitkom study, the average Digital Office Index 2020 only achieved 53 to 59 out of a possible 100 points! 0 stands for “not digitized at all” and 100 for “fully digitized”. Large companies with more than 500 employees are making progress on the topic of digitization. They achieved an index value of 67 points. Companies with 100 to 499 employees are in the middle with 59 points, while small companies (20 to 99 employees) only reap 53 points.
With good advice, IT modernization can go without a wrecking ball
The existing need for IT modernization is also slowed down by the fear that obsolete IT can only be dealt with with the digital wrecking ball. Good IT consulting can be recognized by the fact that it does not destroy everything with brute force. On the contrary, it works on the basis of what is already there. Before new plans are presented on the drawing board, there is an inventory that takes place in close cooperation with the SMEs. Because technical expertise alone is not enough to find and implement the best solutions. You also have to talk to each other.
Constructive communication requires that you get involved and that you listen to each other. It is about explaining and having certain arguments and facts explained to each other.
Only those who are in a position to recognize the existing with appreciation and empathy and to justify the need for improvements and optimizations can count on the suggestions falling on equally understanding and fertile ground. Only then will temporary solutions, finally long-term stable and future-proof solutions give way. Tools for decentralized work are an example here. In 2020, these had to be introduced very quickly and with a crowbar in view of the home office regulations caused by Corona.
EXTRA: Digitization in times of Corona: This is how you stay on the ball
Trust as the cornerstone, people as the yardstick
The final report of a study carried out on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy called “IT service providers as actors for strengthening IT security in SMEs in Germany”, published at the end of March 2021, underlines the important role that IT service providers play in realizing an appropriate IT security level in SMEs. For all questions about digitization, be it in the area:
- IT security
- the communication
- the collaboration of teams
– the focus must be on people. An important approach is to always start with people. Then one can infer the technologies from humans. This is what the employees in the company need in order to work well, quickly, safely and efficiently together.
IT modernization? Communication as a master key
At URANO, we recognized early on what effect Microsoft Teams in particular can have on a contemporary corporate culture. Microsoft Teams has developed from a communication platform to a holistic platform for collaboration. We:
- chat and make phone calls via teams
- work together on shared documents
- use common task lists
- meet for virtual coffee breaks and team events
For us, Microsoft Teams has proven to be a valuable tool for successful and decentralized work – especially in times of Corona. There are different reasons why many companies still rely on the old ad-hoc makeshift solutions: Be it that there is no IT department of its own or one that is so overloaded that it cannot deal with extensive migration projects Company IT can and wants to deal with. In the same way, one also repeatedly encounters reservations, ignorance and fears.
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Topping-out ceremony: Welcome to a safe new home
Fears of change are understandable, but nobody has to fear improvements!
If you look around the medium-sized companies in the DACH area, you are still surprised at the IT infrastructure that companies are still working with. But would it help to clap your hands over your head and snub customers? Most of them have run their business successfully not because of, but despite the unsatisfactory IT.
Always compulsively migrating companies to the latest system to the maximum extent is not a patent solution. Picking up customers where they are and working with them to determine what workflows currently look like in order to then determine whether partial or even complete migration is worthwhile.
Often, even small steps in IT modernization – such as switching from Skype to Teams – already hold great potential for increasing productivity. Like when you are happy about proper water pressure again after replacing a dilapidated pipe. Or if, after installing a contemporary FI switch, the fuse does not pop out every time the oven and dishwasher are running in parallel. And of course – this closes the circle – this also applies to the larger projects: If you switch to gas heating, you might be able to set up a small workshop where the oil tanks used to be. And all of this increases the quality of living without affecting the charm and flair of the feeling of living.
EXTRA: That’s why we need courage for the future for digitization