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Digitalisation is business development

In the 1990s, the word computerisation was commonly used to describe developments that were happening in the workplace. In retrospect, you could say that computerisation meant adding computers and other technology to a business in the belief that this would make it more efficient, but without affecting the business in itself.

Developing a business was something completely separate to the computer systems that were installed to support the business. However, as early as the 1960s, an American psychologist, Harold J. Leavitt, had argued that to understand how to be able to create change, you need to understand the interplay between people, the business (that is to say the tasks that are to be performed), the organisation (the structure in accordance with which you work) and technology.

Four wheels illustrating interaction for change.oop
The interaction between these is crucial for the development of a business.

When we use the concept of digitalisation today, I would argue that this should be understood in exactly the same way as business development. This is in order to establish that it is not technology development per se that is the important thing, but how the business can be developed, with technology development as a driving force.

Many people appreciate this explanation, maybe before they experienced computerisation that did not take into account how businesses would be affected.

Digitalisation focuses on defining entirely new ways of doing things, or perhaps that you should do entirely new things. Even though it is not uncommon when people say that they want to bring digitalisation know-how into a business development project, to hear: “…but we have not reached that stage in the project yet, we need to first discuss what kind of business we want to have in the future, and only then will we come onto digitalisation issues”.

 I think it is of the utmost importance that digitalisation aspects and know-how within digital transformation are included in every business development project from the very start. Why so?

In principle, there is not a single business today that does not need a great deal of IT to enable it to function and as such, you need to take these aspects into account from the beginning. Digitalisation as a development paradigm means innovative new ways of resolving business development issues compared to before.

Digitalisation advocates agility, that is to say, being able to quickly deliver a genuine value in a change in order to be then able to build knowledge about what the business needs. Digitalisation also assumes an iterative approach, that is to say, working with constant improvement. Methods for digital transformation are often based on and involve users at an early stage and continuously in development.

Today, you can no longer talk about business development without digitalisation playing a key role. Digitalisation IS business development.

Reading tip of the week: In the age of the smart machine 1988 by Shoshana Zuboff.

From smorgasbord to verksamhet: Many people say that English is one of the richest languages in the world , but I would claim that Swedish is the richest language when it comes to bureaucratic terminology. The Swedish word verksamhet is not easy to translate to English. In this text the word business has been chosen that many people associate to commercial activities. Other synonyms could be work, which more associates to the tasks done in the business or organization which in this text more refers to the structure of the business.

I would hope that English could consider importing the word verksamhet to their language just as they have imported ombudsman or smorgasbord, because no other concept captures the richness of the Swedish word verksamhet.