The jet lag effect: Why SMEs lag behind in digital transformation

February 5, 2018 Sascha Grosskopf


Not all industries are affected by a skills shortage and often, if you take an existing pool of employees, you can manage them better and improve their skills by using the latest digital tools. For SME’s, however, this proves more difficult.

Anyone who has travelled extensively knows about jet lag and how to mentally prepare the body clock for a shift in time. Unfortunately, the same does not work in business, and when you lag behind in time, it’s not so easy to catch-up.

HR departments in medium-sized companies tend to lag behind the most when it comes to digital transformation. This is because, in general, the HR department is viewed as more of an implementer than a driver of corporate strategies, helping out with only their own departmental needs rather than considering the business as a whole. We have already seen departments work with smart devices, augmented reality and robots which increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve competitiveness and HR can make this impact too.

Businesses should recognise the value of the HR department and integrate them into the company’s strategy planning, whatever size your company may be. It’s important for SME’s to have an integrated, collaborative workforce so they can make an impact by focusing on business strategy, rather than worrying about their operational needs. But to achieve this, companies must first digitally transform to ensure technology is helping eliminate wasted time for the HR team.

So, what can companies do about this?

Get strategic

Digital transformation aims to remedy and “virtualise” administrative time-wasters. However, staff shortages within companies can delay even the smallest of digital transformation processes. Companies need to first stabilise and set standards across all departments. You should:

  • Have a global or nationally-networked payroll
  • Invest in training
  • Co-operate with experienced external partners

Implementing these standards across all departments will ensure that your workforce is productive and efficient and will push your company towards digital mobilisation.

The social jet lag

When selecting digital systems, there’s several important elements to consider:

  • Data security
  • Flexiblity
  • Scalability

Implementing digital systems for processes such as payroll or employee management across offices unifies the company, making the workforce stronger and more collaborative.

Job-related admin operations are referred to as a kind of social jet lag. When companies experience a digital backlog, they can experience this. However, modern, digital data management and the Internet of Things are currently being rolled out across the corporate landscape, and will aid companies during these periods of social jet lag.

Implementing the right technology into your company can help provide the right foundation to help everyone succeed and be more productive, and to give HR the room to have a strategic role in the business – not just an admin one.


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