Are we still associating technological innovation with job destruction? The answer is, for the most part, yes. And according to Santiago Carbo, a professor at the University of Granada and director of financial research at the Funcas Think Tank, “This is an unfair and grossly inaccurate generalization. In fact, the process of digital transformation brings the opposite: new professional profiles, cost reduction, process optimization and new business opportunities.”
We are talking about the fourth industrial revolution 4.0: information, data, nanotechnology, renewable energy and quantum computing. And it is “disappointing,” in Carbo’s words, that we analyze it in the same way that our ancestors analyzed the previous ones. For example: in Modern Times (1936), Charles Chaplin urged us to hate the mechanization of the working environment because of its destructive effect on human dignity. But the truth is that, viewed from a perspective, Ford’s revolution, propelled by automaker Henry Ford and based on automation and mass production (which Chaplin critically portrays in his film), eventually led to exponential growth in productivity and, therefore, to stable and prosperous work. – paid jobs in industry.
Ivan Maroto, director of digital business and market at Correos at Correos, believes that something very similar will happen with the current digitization process: “I have no doubt that these changes will create a very favorable balance in terms of employment: they will destroy little and create a lot” . First, it highlights that the demand for “disruptive and transformative technology profiles is already on the rise: from software developers to web page designers, digital marketing or social media experts, data analysts…”. In addition, new business models will also help “protect” more traditional jobs, “making digital companies more competitive and profitable.”
Technology train not to be missed
According to Jordi Comas, a strategic consultant and professor at Ramon Llull University, the current process of “automating and digitizing the economy”, which has been felt for at least five years and has been “very noticeably accelerated due to the pandemic”, may have an even deeper transformer effect. At the moment, it is already changing “the way it produces, sells and competes, as well as the habits of consumers.”
In Spain, small and medium-sized companies (with less than 250 employees) make up 99% of the total and 97% with employees. Together they create about 90% of jobs in our country. If you work for someone else, chances are you work for an SME.
The lion’s share of this impressive business structure is made up of pocket companies employing up to 10 people. All of them feel an urgent need not to miss the new technological train, to join the process of transformation as soon as possible, which in many areas already determines which companies thrive and which suffer.
An ideal opportunity to enter this virtuous circle is Spain’s Digital Agenda 2025 and especially one of its star initiatives, the so-called Digitizer Kit or Digital Kit. The agenda, presented on July 23, 2020, is an ambitious plan for the comprehensive transformation of the Spanish economy, aiming to mobilize $140,000 million in public and private investment. And the Digital Kit is a program funded by European Next Generation funds that offers small and medium-sized enterprises that benefit from it the opportunity to implement the basic tools to digitize their business. The total amount of donations for this initiative is 3,067 million euros. In the first phase, consisting of 500 million euros, assistance of up to 12,000 euros is offered to companies with between 10 and 49 employees.
Benefits of an innovative program
For Juan Manuel Corchado, a professor at the University of Salamanca and an expert in technological innovation, this could be “a major shock, as evidenced by the large number of applications received.” Spanish SMEs “feel the need to digitize and to a large extent they are already doing so.” Receiving assistance “funded from European, state, regional or local funds” is for many of them a window of opportunity and a decisive incentive.
Corchado believes that this will have a very noticeable impact both “on a basic level and on companies that are going to invest in launching and positioning a website in a setting or in developing a digital store”, as in cases in which this assistance will be used “for more advanced digital investments, and this may be necessary, as is the case with companies that are involved in areas such as cybersecurity or cryptocurrencies.”
Ivan Maroto believes the bailout is “essential for companies that, due to their size and level of profitability, have been putting off much-needed technology investments for several years, which they can now finally take on.” Maroto says there is currently a “cultural change that is forcing companies to adapt to new demands of all kinds, starting with new habits and needs from consumers and a growing demand for sustainability and social responsibility.”
For the post office manager, “the big challenge is that digitalization is not limited to making aesthetic changes like a review website and an anecdotal social media presence: companies should take the opportunity to deeply rethink their model, see what benefits emerge. from active digital activity and, if possible, from training all your employees on the optimal use of new tools.
It’s not about “giving them a fish, but about helping them get a good rod and teaching them how to fish.” The digital kit is the necessary funds for buying a rod. Teaching how to fish is a task that digitization agents can take on.
Digitalization and its allies
The blueprint for the digital agenda in Spain gives a prominent role to these new agents. These are social intermediaries that can help SMEs successfully complete their transformation programs. Correos is part of this agent digitization program. For Maroto, “it’s an inevitable responsibility that we, as a public company meant to serve, take on quite naturally.”
Workers inside a digitized warehouse.Westend61 (Getty Images/Westend61)
Two specific initiatives summarize Correos’ efforts in this regard. On the one hand, the eCommerce Solutions program. According to Maroto, “it consists of offering our customers the necessary technologies to open an online store or web page for services, as well as tools for digital order management.” Everything is simple, intuitive and with active advice from Correos. Companies that use this service “do not need prior technical knowledge, we study their specific case and make them a custom suit.”
The second initiative is the Correos Market, “a point of sale or market open to all companies that pay taxes in Spain and want to offer their products there.” They are not asked for upfront investment of any kind and are not charged a commission. In this way, Correos makes its “2370 offices, the largest logistics and distribution network in the country” available to the entire Spanish business structure. It also offers interested SMEs “the opportunity to associate your name with Correos, an institution with 300 years of history and a well-recognized brand: anyone who sees Correos boots knows that it is synonymous with dependable and dependable service.”
today is better than tomorrow
For Juan Manuel Corchado, digitization has long ceased to be an option and has become a pressing need. This inevitable update should be completed as soon as possible. The expert also believes that “if everything is done well, it will undoubtedly become a source of job creation.” Companies that transform accordingly will grow by “becoming job creators for themselves and others” in their networks of suppliers, allies and business partners.
He himself has witnessed amazing success stories: “I have seen companies go from a few dozen telemarketers trying to sell their product in a very short time to becoming companies with hundreds of people effectively managing the buying and selling processes thanks to an optimized digital channel. Those SMEs that are moving away from inefficient practices and expanding into “big companies” have not only found the best tools to offer their traditional product, but once new channels have been created, they have opened up to a culture of constant innovation and today they offer new services and products.
Corchado highlights the success of the free digital activities training programs that the University of Salamanca offers through its E4you.org portal: “We have courses with over 40,000 students enrolled. There is a strong demand for training in professional profiles such as computer engineers, cybersecurity specialists, digital marketing or data analysis.”
These are the professions of the future, which is already here and includes a set of knowledge and skills that, according to Ivan Maroto, “most professionals will have to acquire over time in order to adapt to the changes that are already visible and those that have yet to be mastered.” Experts interviewed agree that we are at the dawn of a new world, a technology and knowledge economy that is here to stay. Corchado believes that looking back, we will be surprised to what extent the Internet has “transformed our society in just 30 years Now the process of transformation is taking place in the rhythm of “each particular society, its problems, needs, economic structure, internal crises and learning opportunities.” But if anything is clear, it is that there is no going back.
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