The world is now moving towards the new normal. The way we live, the way we work, the structure of the industry, and the nature of economic activities are about to undergo major changes in our conventional wisdom. So, what kind of common sense is common in the new normal era? What should we do to realize the social and individual lifestyles and work styles we aim for? No worries or doubts. However, it is also believed that further use of digital technology will lead to new possibilities and new social activities. So this time, let’s think about how digital technology can be used to change individuals and companies into the new normal era.
What is the New Normal?
The new normal refers to a new state of affairs that has been created as a result of changes in conventional wisdom and various activity patterns as a result of the great impact society has on various factors.
The term “new normal” began to be used in the early 2000s when the spread of the Internet made conventional economic theory and common sense in business obsolete. As a result of the arrival of the first new normal era, digital communication has begun to be used as one of the social infrastructures in both personal life and business.
The next New Normal era was triggered by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy that engulfed the global economy in 2008-2009. It was at this time that the economy and values changed dramatically. Criticism gathered for excessive capitalism, and the social responsibility of corporate activities came to be questioned.
And this time is the arrival of the third new normal era. Let’s see what this transformation looks like.
A society that is not bound by place and time
Until now, it was common sense in society for people to meet directly, converse, understand each other, and gain mutual understanding to complete transactions and deepen relationships. If anything, it can be said that I have valued the importance of what I can get by actually meeting face-to-face.
Of course, in the new normal era that we are about to enter, we do not deny direct encounters between people, and emphasize the relationships between people and deepen mutual understanding. There is no change from the conventional wisdom in that the possibilities will expand and businesses will be born in it.
However, it is believed that physical changes will be significant. For example, an environment where people can connect without meeting face-to-face, work styles with a high degree of freedom without being restricted by place or time, and the same services in urban areas and rural areas online. You will be able to enjoy it.
In the new normal era, these various things will be provided regardless of factors such as “place” and “time” and will be widely available to everyone.
Fulfilling communication is essential in the new normal era
In the new normal era, a society that has emphasized traditional face-to-face conversations and understanding each other’s way of thinking to build relationships will require a higher quality of communication. is considered necessary.
This is because talking with someone in front of you and understanding their way of thinking is not just about what the other person said, but also about sharing the other person’s slight gestures, facial expressions, behavior patterns, etc.
Because there is information available in In other words, when you talk online or do the same work from a distance without going to the office, you can’t get the atmosphere and state of people around you unless you consciously try to understand them. This is because it can be said that it is also an environment where you can live without knowing it.
So, in such an environment, what is needed to realize higher quality communication and deepen the connections between people more than ever before? Most attention is focused on the idea that it can be realized by using technology to support such activities.
Change to a new normal society
Let’s explore what will change in the new normal era from the following three perspectives.
The idea of “sustainability” is attracting attention as to what the lifestyle of the new normal will be like.
Sustainability is an English word that means being sustainable and being able to maintain and continue without destroying the environment. It is also the central idea expressed in the report “Our Common Future” published by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) in 1987 at the United Nations.
Lifestyles in the new normal era will likely change to such sustainable lifestyles, in other words, those that are conscious of the sustainable development of people, society, and the global environment.
- In terms of food, one move may be to increase local production and consumption of health-conscious ingredients as much as possible. Rather than mass production and mass consumption, it will be required to deliver the amount without waste to the people who need it.
- In terms of education, we have seen a trend toward a combination of online learning and hands-on learning. For learning basics and general education, taking online classes at home and learning with hands-on experiences, such as experiments, workshops, and on-site surveys may become commonplace.
- More and more medical and administrative services are likely to be provided online.
- Regarding housing, it is related to work style, but if an environment where people can work from anywhere is realized, there is a possibility that the concentration of the population in the city center will be resolved. If you can work in the same way no matter where you live, more people may choose to base themselves in places where they feel comfortable living, regardless of the city center.
These are just a few examples, but it is believed that many things and services will come to be available through networks where they are needed and in the amount needed.
Many companies are reviewing work styles such as arriving at work, working, and leaving work on time. Various systems such as online meetings have been enhanced by preparing a network environment, and it is now possible to work anywhere in the same way as in the company. These changes will reduce commuting time and costs.
Also, if remote work becomes the focus, it will be easier to eliminate regional disparities in terms of work style conditions.
On the other hand, we will likely become a society that requires even higher skills, such as specialized knowledge and communication skills.
If you focus on corporate activities, even when conducting sales activities for customers and business partners, activities through the network will be the main focus.
- In terms of transactions and sales activities, conventional face-to-face business negotiations will be replaced by remote product explanations and service provision, and contract procedures will also be digitalized. These changes will make it possible to provide more personalized services promptly, and to cover the entire country and the world as a scope of activity, regardless of the geographical relationship between customers and business partners, and the company. In other words, regardless of company size, the goodness of ideas and content will be recognized as factors that more clearly promote company growth.
- Regarding customer service operations, the shift from cash payments to cashless payments will further improve efficiency.
- Securing and training human resources is an initiative that many companies place importance on. Companies that have realized a high degree of freedom in working styles, such as remote work, will be able to secure more excellent human resources without being affected by restrictions such as location and working hours. Webinars also provide off-site training, increasing opportunities for employee professional development. In this way, securing and training human resources will become more flexible and timely than ever before.
In addition, changes in business styles suggest that companies that were concentrated in cities may disperse to rural areas. Furthermore, it is considered to be a sustainable change in terms of the urban environment and regional revitalization.
Furthermore, with the spread of digital transformation (DX), there may be an increase in the number of cases where offices are downsized or, in extreme cases, corporate activities continue without offices.
What changes are required of companies?
With the start of the new normal era, where lifestyles, work styles, and business styles change, we must think of ways to increase productivity with new ideas in corporate activities. First, let’s think about how the company should change, element by element.
Improvement of work environment
By reducing work that was premised on coming to the office and work that had to be done manually by employees, and utilizing digital technologies such as IoT and AI, a system that ensures the same productivity even in remote work as in-house activities. must be constructed.
- Utilization of cloud-based groupware: Active communication, information sharing, and progress management are necessary for employees working from various locations to connect online, demonstrate teamwork, and achieve results. Cloud-based groupware can be used to achieve this.
- Digitization and automation of paperwork: Not only can efficiency be improved by digitizing work such as paperwork and attendance management, but it is also possible to use AI and RPA to automate it.
Improving the working environment
In the new normal era, various work styles are realized, so there are various work styles. Employees will be able to flexibly choose between working at home, working at a store, working at a satellite office, etc., depending on their work or living situation such as nursing care of family members or raising children. To work from each environment, it is necessary to prepare an environment that ensures safety and comfort.
- Recreating a fixed-line phone environment regardless of location: Even in a new normal society where remote work has become commonplace, it is important to have unified voice communication with the company’s representative number. With voice and landline services, you can use your company’s landline phone number on your smartphone or PC wherever you work.
- Enhanced security: By using a VPN service, you can create a secure environment with a virtual leased line.
- Ensuring safety: Image recognition technology using AI cameras can be used to manage the health of employees working in the office, and cameras with built-in fluorescent lights can be used to strengthen crime prevention when the office is unmanned. I can do it.
Digitization of methods for securing human resources and training employees
In a society where chronic labor shortages are progressing due to the declining birthrate and aging population, and in a society where diverse work styles are commonplace, securing excellent human resources and providing an appropriate educational environment for employees is essential for corporate growth. is an important factor that influences In terms of securing human resources, it is necessary to build a means to improve the efficiency of recruitment operations and to employ people regardless of location.
- Introduction of AI recruitment: Online meetings are becoming established, but by introducing online interviews at the time of recruitment, it will be possible to recruit human resources regardless of location. In addition, if you use a service where AI becomes an interviewer, it will be possible to prevent variations in evaluation criteria, which will lead to more objective and optimal human resources.
- Building an effective human resource development method: It can be said that it was difficult to achieve effective human resource development by simply providing online courses to a wide range of employees and having them take them, as in the past, because it was not possible to grasp the progress of each employee. By introducing a service such as LMS (Learning Management System: See *), personnel can grasp the grades and learning progress of each employee and provide teaching materials and lectures according to the situation. increase.
*LMS (Learning Management System): A system that distributes learning materials that can be conducted online, such as e-learning, and integrates and manages the attendance status and grades of students.
Response to external parties
Remote customer service
Conventional sales and customer service were based on visits and face-to-face meetings. In the new normal era, sales activities and customer service will be conducted remotely. What is required here is to be more prompt and polite than conventional face-to-face correspondence. Furthermore, it is necessary to digitize contracts and other procedures to reduce time and costs.
- Construction of a rapid and detailed information provision system based on online business negotiations: By changing face-to-face business negotiations to online business negotiations via the Internet, travel time and costs can be reduced. However, it is possible that the customer’s needs, which cannot be expressed in person, could also be read from information such as atmosphere and attitude. It is necessary to reproduce such points in online business negotiations and increase customer satisfaction by providing more detailed product and service information promptly. It will be possible to explain products and services using webinars and discover needs using accumulated data analysis.
- Digitalization of contract signing: Even with the advancement of IT, many companies still have the custom of stamping their seals on paper-printed contracts. However, in the new normal era, when it becomes commonplace for business negotiations to be conducted remotely, it is necessary to adapt to the digitization of contract conclusions. This makes it easier to communicate with customers in remote locations, and it also makes it possible to proceed smoothly without being affected by the absence of the approver.
In this new normal era, companies will be required to make changes within the company and changes in how they deal with external parties. In other words, by responding to these changes, we believe it will be possible to improve performance even in the new normal era.
It is the power of digital that enables these changes in companies. Let’s take a look at how to tackle more advanced digital technology utilization.
Meaning of Digital Transformation (DX)
In the new normal era, companies must continue their business in response to various social changes and create a new normal for people to live safely and securely. The reliability, flexibility, and availability of the systems that drive society are key to this.
We also believe that the speed at which we can solve social issues will be accelerated. Similarly, in corporate activities, speed will be required in efforts to solve problems while continuing business.
In this new normal era, digital transformation (DX) enables changes in the lives of companies and individuals.
In 2018, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry compiled the “Digital Transformation (DX) Promotion Guidelines”, and since then, each company has actively promoted DX.
Here, let’s check the meaning of DX again.
Definition of digital transformation
DX was first proposed in 2004 by Eric Stolterman, a professor at Umeå University in Sweden, and is a concept that “the penetration of IT will change people’s lives in a better direction in all aspects”.
According to the guidelines formulated by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, “Companies should respond to drastic changes in the business environment, utilize data and digital technology, and transform their products, services, and business models based on the needs of customers and society. It is defined as “to establish a competitive advantage by transforming the operations themselves, organizations, processes, and corporate culture/climate, as well as the above.”
The power of digital
Until now, companies have been promoting the use of IT in all their operations. It has become commonplace to convert documents that used to be printed on paper and sent by mail to PDFs and send them by e-mail, and to convert contracts and drawings that were stored on paper into data and collectively manage them internally. In addition, about core systems such as inventory management systems and accounting systems, the digitization of a large amount of analog data has greatly changed the business style and made corporate operations more efficient.
However, this kind of IT is nothing more than digitizing analog data. It was not the kind of advanced digitization that utilizes even greater amounts of data for strategies in corporate activities.
By promoting DX, the accumulated data will be used strategically and flexibly in an optimal way. “AI” reproduces on computers some of the intellectual behaviors that were thought to be possible only for humans, and “connecting things to the Internet to create new services by collecting and analyzing information.” IoT can be freely used.
In other words, by further promoting DX, it is possible to clear the challenges of corporate change required in the new normal era.
The business realized by DX
So what kind of business will DX bring? It is important to know the company’s strengths and changes in customer needs when developing new corporate activity strategies and business methods, and digital technology can be said to embody new strategies and business ideas.
An effective strategy is to increase customer satisfaction by combining existing businesses with the latest technologies such as mobile customer service, remote support, and prediction of failures and defects using IoT.
For example, the connected service provided by automobile manufacturer Toyota can be said to be a new service using IoT. Conventionally, when a car breaks down or causes an accident after being sold by a car maker, the customer would contact the police or the maker about the situation of the accident or breakdown, request repairs, or call an ambulance in some cases. It was the flow of arranging. If self-driving was possible, the customer would bring the car to the repair shop by himself and have it repaired.
However, with DX progressing and IoT-compatible cars, if a customer’s car breaks down or has an accident, the car manufacturer will be contacted directly. Upon receiving the contact, the automaker immediately contacts the customer to confirm the safety and grasp the situation. Since the manufacturer can set up a quick repair response system without the customer having to request it, it can lead to increased customer satisfaction.
An example of this not only increases customer satisfaction but also allows us to offer comprehensive services such as sales and maintenance.
In other words, the corporate strategy to survive in the new normal era is not to provide a wide range of uniform services, but to accurately deliver services that correspond to each customer and create services that arouse customer needs. It can be said that Digital power is used for that purpose.
Respond to the new normal era by leveraging the power of digital technology
Companies must respond to the era of the new normal by effectively utilizing evolving digital technologies, including work style reforms and BCPs (business continuity plans). Individuals also need to think about how they will live and work in the new era, look ahead to their plans, and think of ways to realize them.
Sustainability will be the keyword. It will be difficult for a company to continue to grow if it cannot respond to the movement to seek the best and leanest products. Individuals need to acquire the required skills, choose a work style based on their plans, and live a healthy life.
In addition, with the realization of an environment that is not bound by time or place, it is believed that face-to-face correspondence, which was common sense for both companies and individuals, will become the basis for remote correspondence.
If so, you will need more fulfilling communication than face-to-face. We are always interested in creating an environment that makes full use of digital technology, such as an environment where high-quality information can be used, an environment where the possibility of self-fulfillment is expanded, and an environment where networks with people and society can be expanded. I think that going forward is the way to respond to the new normal era.