Smart Organization: what is and what opportunities it offers to companies

The Smart Organization can be counted among the many opportunities offered today by the digital era.

This concept, as you may have guessed, stems from the need for organizations to respond proactively to the changes imposed by the digital revolution.

In this article I will explain what a “smart” organization is by answering the following questions:

  • what are the characteristics and principles of this organization?
  • what preparation is required to operate within it?
  • what kind of professional characteristics must the leader possess?
  • what are the opportunities for companies that want to innovate in this respect?

The kind of innovation we talk about today is certainly digital, but to put it into practice you need the right skills in marketing and communication. That’s why Digital Coach® has devised a study path called Digital Innovation Program, designed precisely for those who, like you, wish to innovate their business from a digital perspective.

Smart Organization: what it is

The definition of Smart Organization refers to a new type of organization, the offspring of Industry 4.0 and digital transformation, characterized by new operational and functioning mechanisms.

In particular, it is distinguished by:

  • smart working,
  • use of collaborative IT tools,
  • extensive use of digital tools and software,
  • digitally competent personnel,
  • autonomy and self-responsibility of employees,
  • different organization of working spaces,
  • new leadership model.

The relentless progress in terms of information, communication, and content technologies has led to the emergence of a new organizational paradigm called “smart”, which stands for: Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-related. That is Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-related.

Certainly, the use of remote working in recent times has only accelerated the need for companies to reshape their organizational environment and make it more digital-friendly.

Smart Organization: Features

This type of organization takes the form of a set of precise models, ideas, and concepts, held together by a basic philosophy based on a strong sense of:

  • innovation,
  • creativity,
  • collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Beyond the philosophy that permeates it, this new organizational model is characterized by several peculiarities that define its structure.

smart organization goals

Principles

What is so innovative and disruptive about this organization? What are its characteristics? The most significant changes in this respect can be summarised in four principles:

  1. Process,
  2. Place,
  3. Platforms,
  4. People.

Process

One of the most innovative approaches is certainly the adoption of co-design or co-participation processes. This term refers to participatory design that involves all stakeholders in a project: from employees to end users.

Activities such as these are organized in such a way as to make all participants co-authors of the project itself, in its initial brainstorming phase.

In short, people with different skills and roles talk to each other with the intention of converging their ideas toward a single goal.

brainstorming phase in smart organizations

Space

The concept of space, from the perspective of a Smart organization, means a real redefinition of the working environment. Forget, therefore, classic offices, domestic walls, and all those places that are not conducive to the proper performance of work activities.

Instead, imagine spaces that are conceived and designed to measure the personnel and the tasks they are called upon to perform.

The organizational place must be inhabitable and flexible, and to be so, there must be the co-presence of the following elements:

  • meeting rooms for conferences and corporate meetings,
  • shared workspaces (hot desking),
  • reservation system (desk hotelling),
  • ergonomic workstations adapted to the use of technology,
  • stations for recreation and relaxation (lounge area),
  • design elements that make the environment pleasant and comfortable.

The workplace must therefore be overhauled in order to optimize the cost and space of the building and offices. For this reason, you will have to move away from the classic arrangement of desks one after the other, with a single laptop and telephone per workstation, and think instead about creating shared spaces where your staff can work alone or in teams in informal settings.

This will create a more collaborative, less cramped, and alienating environment. For proper utilization of flexible workspaces, you will also need to think about a reservation system that covers both hot desking and meeting rooms for meetings with customers and between employees.

The reservation system can be done through apps or software that will allow your employees to find available desks before they arrive at the office. In the case of the use of more sophisticated technologies, it will also be possible to know the location of the colleagues you intend to work with.

Platforms

Although the physical space occupied by a Smart Organization plays a major role in fostering interaction between individuals, the working environment created is at the same time highly digitized.

Digital platforms are fundamental to the success of a Smart Organization. Their use concerns both internal processes within the organization and contact with the target audience and/or end customer.

People

The real heart of change is the people, who, with their combined knowledge, information, and experience, constitute the intellectual capital of the organization, the primary resource capable of generating innovation.

In addition to more transversal skills, such as the ability to listen and work in a team, the professional figures operating within a Smart Organization must possess a technical background in line with today’s needs, and thus concerning the professional use of digital tools.

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Fields of action: from doing to being digital

When we talk about corporate digitization, we primarily mean the shift from traditional to digital methods. The entire production process is therefore undergoing a profound change, due to the use of technology at every stage of the process: from design to customer and supplier relations, through to sales and all marketing operations and strategies.

Within a smart organization, everything, therefore, hinges on the digital exchange of data. But to do this, it is necessary to equip oneself with specific technologies, plan new models, and embrace a different corporate culture.

In particular, there are five fields of action on which a smart organization should act to digitize itself and redefine its goals:

  • technologies,
  • new corporate organizational model,
  • new business models,
  • skills,
  • culture.

Technologies

The first among the investment areas for a Smart Organization in the digital age is definitely technology.

The latter primarily concerns data collection and analysis, and machine-to-machine communication technologies.

Of particular importance will be:

  • software for data acquisition and management,
  • high-speed internet,
  • big data,
  • cloud computing,
  • advanced robotics.

New corporate organizational model

Instead, the new corporate organizational model, i.e. the structure of a Smart Organization, is characterized by:

  • augmented and virtual reality to support production processes,
  • real-time performance analysis systems,
  • tools for smart working,
  • management systems that foster integration and cooperation.

New business models

Within an organization, the marketing and operations areas, and thus everything related to after-sales in terms of production, logistics, and customer service, lend themselves well to the use of disruptive technologies.

By new business models, we, therefore, mean the use of channels and tools to:

  • promoting and selling products and services,
  • analyzing user/customer behavior and needs,
  • acquire and manage potential customers.

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Skills

Skills must be relevant to the organization’s technological environment. In fact, any technology will lose its usefulness if it is not accompanied by personnel competent in the use of digital tools.

The adoption of digital technology skills and the related investment in human capital are what determine and fuel the competitiveness of a highly innovative enterprise.

In addition to mastering messaging and document-sharing platforms, employees are required to master digital technologies, tools, and media for successful remote working.

organization digital tools

These types of skills can be summarised as follows:

  • processing digital content,
  • optimizing the positioning of a website,
  • implementing communication strategies through social media,
  • developing online sales campaigns,
  • manage lead generation and lead demand processes,
  • monitoring and analyzing data and digital content.

For further insight into today’s world of work, in terms of hard digital skills and the main professions in demand, I recommend you take a look at my article on the world of work.

Culture

Based on what has been said so far, you will have realized that the Smart Organization has its own culture that gives it uniqueness as an organization.

It is a result-oriented culture, thus goal-oriented rather than task-oriented, based on:

  • sharing and human interaction,
  • continuous learning,
  • greater error tolerance,
  • trust and self-responsibility.

This leads to greater transparency and fluidity in the sharing of information and knowledge, seen as a shared asset made available to the entire community to enable it to grow and progress.

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The goal of a Smart Organization is to continuously create new knowledge, convey it among stakeholders and integrate it into new technologies and products. Smart capital, the engine of innovation, is the only key to success as an organization in the digital economy.

Smart leadership

Such a structured organization requires a leadership model that knows how to manage it, and therefore possesses the following competencies:

  • social,
  • cognitive,
  • techniques.

Social skills

Within a Smart Organization, communication must be much more fluid and open than in a traditional organization. The continuous reassessment of tasks and assignments by the leader occurs through the leader’s interaction with others. For this reason, the leadership style sought focuses on consultation and interpersonal relationships.

The smart leader must therefore possess social competencies, i.e. interpersonal skills, that can facilitate relationships and interactions with others.

smart leader

Cognitive skills

These will be more familiar to you, as they are an essential requirement, especially for those who are called upon to manage and lead a work team; and they can be summarised as the ability to:

  • writing,
  • understanding of texts,
  • analysis and synthesis,
  • problem-solving,
  • decision making.

Technical skills

These skills refer to the use of various social and digital tools. As you will have understood from reading the previous paragraphs, the leader of a Smart Organization is a leader who leads and operates within a highly digitized environment, and may sometimes be called upon to lead teams remotely.

Therefore, as the future leader of your Smart Organization, in addition to mastering the use of collaborative platforms, you should have specific and up-to-date training in digital marketing.

In addition, since you will be called upon to supervise and coordinate, both technically and operationally, teams and specialists from other areas, you will have to acquire specific managerial skills, which you can apply to the digital context.

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Finally, it should be emphasized, that this new leadership model should be based more on experience and commitment to the business as a whole, rather than on hierarchical roles.

Smart Organization: opportunities for enterprises

The Smart Organization constitutes a new way of doing business, especially in organizational and relational terms. It exploits the opportunities offered by smart resources in terms of technology, knowledge, and information.

But what advantages and opportunities does this bring for the company?

  1. optimization of time and space,
  2. speed, efficiency, and full control of the data flow,
  3. increased transparency, trust, and a sense of belonging among employees,
  4. acceleration of decision-making processes through involvement and sharing of ideas,
  5. fluid and symmetrical communication,
  6. greater sense of individual responsibility,
  7. overcoming rigid hierarchies.

According to a survey conducted by Unionicamere in agreement with Anpal, many companies introduced digital solutions for innovative work organizations between May and June 2020 to cope with the current crisis situation.

It is also emphasized that, in terms of employment, “companies with integrated digitization plans” have shown greater employment resilience.

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The way of doing business and relating to one’s colleagues, superiors, or subordinates in digital environments has profoundly changed the relationships between organizations themselves and between the individuals within them.

That is why today you may have heard of a new type of organization in which creativity and imagination fuel innovation. And where, despite the extensive use of digital tools, communication and sharing between employees are put first.

An organization becomes smart in several respects, and as one of these concerns the digital training of employees and team leaders, you will first have to catch up with the skills required by digital marketing.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity offered by Digital Coach® and request a free strategic consultation on how to build a digital business strategy, starting with the online channels your company uses.

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