In the course of digitization, companies have to deal intensively with new tools. André Reimers, German Market Lead at Fintech Pleo, explains what is important.
Mr. Reimers, why is it important for companies to position themselves digitally right now?
André Reimers: We are moving quickly towards an entrepreneurial “New Normal”. The global pandemic, which has been going on for more than two years, is fueling decentralized and hybrid forms of work. Recently, teams have been working in co-working spaces, hubs or from the comfort of their own four walls. In accordance with the new requirements, European companies were already investing in software and the expansion of their digital infrastructure at the beginning of the pandemic and were doubling their spending in these areas of the company*. In retrospect, this data shows that companies proactively took on the challenge of driving digital transformation – despite the pandemic.
At the end of this transformation there are numerous advantages for the company. Technological solutions optimize work processes, save time, relieve employees and consequently increase the profitability of the company. Properly planned and implemented, digital change also promotes employee motivation and has a positive influence on corporate culture – the invisible glue of every company. If companies want to expand digitally or even reposition themselves, they must accompany this project with a watertight digital strategy. Otherwise, the digital transformation turns out not only to be a short but also an expensive trip.
What are the stumbling blocks when buying new digital solutions?
André Reimers: Anyone who believes that a new tool is enough to bring about lasting change is wrong. With new digital solutions, hand movements change in one place, new manual skills have to be relearned elsewhere. In particular, the users of new tools shoulder a large part of this change process – and yet they are often forgotten in the planning. The greatest danger for companies is that new applications are used incorrectly or not at all. Digitization projects, whether small or comprehensive, are flanked by a valid, user-centric strategy and, last but not least, solid change management.
What do companies have to consider before purchasing software?
André Reimers: It sounds like a no-brainer, but the first step is for companies to define their needs and goals and compare them with internal capacities and resources. This is followed by a digitization plan, which breaks down all the steps of a process, i.e. selection, rollout, implementation and evaluation, into concrete measures in detail. Always in view: the end user!
Finding a tailor-made solution for the company is not easy with the large number of software providers. When looking at the current market landscape for software products, decision-makers quickly lose track – many solutions and even more companies are pushing onto the market. New software solutions must meet the demands of the new world of work, but also bring a certain degree of flexibility, especially in uncertain times. The good thing is that companies do not necessarily have to buy a software program. Software as a Service is a popular sales model in which providers sell and operate digital products online. In the last ten years, sales of SaaS have increased tenfold. (Statista, 2021).
What are the advantages of SaaS solutions and who are they suitable for?
André Reimers: Four out of five companies in Germany are already using the cloud. The step to SaaS is therefore not quite that far. In general, SaaS solutions are suitable for companies of all shapes and sizes. However, small or medium-sized companies and start-ups with growth potential benefit particularly from the flexibility of this form of distribution. Unlike full versions, SaaS providers offer the software solutions in different product packages, the so-called plans.
Companies choose a scope of services tailored to their needs – and only pay for this! In contrast to full versions, the installation and rollout can be managed without an IT department. SaaS is ready to use almost immediately! In addition, maintenance, updates and Co. are with the provider. This saves additional capacity. Another deciding factor for many companies is cost. Some providers offer a basic version of their software solution free of charge. We also offer a free plan for our tool for automated expense management – up to 5 users can use a basic version of Pleo completely free of charge and put the program through its paces. And once the small business grows, the plan simply grows with it!
What is your forecast for the coming years with regard to the digital transformation in companies?
André Reimers: The digital delay in entrepreneurship is being made up for in large steps, because digital is clearly the new normal. In the private sphere, digital helpers have long been an essential part of everyday life. A quick look at the smartphones shows apps for online banking, streaming service providers, health and productivity apps. However, as soon as people make an expense for work, such as buying a coffee on the way to a customer meeting, a Stone Age process starts rolling:
Lay out money, fill out an expense receipt, submit it to accounting and wait weeks for a refund. But that will soon be over. The digital normal will very soon gain a foothold in everyday working life. Employees then buy the aforementioned coffee without cash, quickly photograph the receipt and submit it with just a few clicks. When you take your first sip of coffee afterwards, it’s still hot.