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The impact of digitization

A take at the man-machine hybrid with Rogier Krijgsman

While digitization and technology create new opportunities for companies, they also change the structure of the organization and its decision-making process. Often, employees and their competencies shift – a significant social impact is to be expected. Rogier Krijgsman, Global Director of Digital Transformation in Wolters Kluwer’s Global Platform Organization, recently participated in a roundtable discussion with Dutch business magazine Management Scope. Here, he discussed the ongoing digitization of Wolters Kluwer, the impact of digitization on employees, and the effect of digitization on Wolters Kluwer as an employer.

While digitization, robotization, and artificial intelligence contribute to the success of Wolters Kluwer, they have also had an impact on the role of employees.The Impact of Digitization Krijgsman Krijgsman: “As a global information provider to professionals in the health, tax and accounting, governance, risk and compliance, legal and regulatory sectors, digitization increases opportunities to use our domain knowledge. This impacts the work of our authors who have become domain experts that actively contribute to how we improve the work processes of the professionals we serve by offering our expertise at the right time. Thanks to data insights, we know which customers will be dealing with changes in legislation and regulations. Subsequently, we can offer them in-depth information or an online training course on amendments to this legislation.”

“Design sprints and pre-visualizations give the customer an idea of an app at an early stage”

An important prerequisite to digitization is the collaboration between the business and IT. Wolters Kluwer has set up a central user experience center of excellence to stimulate the cooperation between business and IT; the center employs professionals in the fields of customer and user experience and contextual research. “The center of excellence helps our business identify the customers’ areas of improvement and develop the right solutions. Our design sprints and pre-visualizations give customers an idea of an app at an early stage which is a part of our collaboration model,” said Krijgsman.

Unlocking potential
Digitization is accompanied by change and change can lead to resistance, potentially hindering the adoption of new ways of working. Companies have several ways to tackle this – one of them is diversity. In a recent interview with Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, CEO Nancy McKinstry commented: “I have seen from my own experience that the most diverse teams achieve the best results which is why I’m so enthusiastic about diversity." To increase adoption, Wolters Kluwer’s Global Platform Organization introduced a team that focuses entirely on advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics. “This team of people from various divisions and countries with different backgrounds operates as a technology driver and is closely involved in the next step of digitization at Wolters Kluwer. For instance, they chart the competences that our employees need now and in the future. This forces you to look at people through a different lens. It's not just about young talent, the team also includes authors that have been with us for years and who are open to change…together, we can make a difference for the customer,” said Krijgsman.

“It takes courage to experiment in collaboration with the customer”

Change is hard
Digitization requires courage. Progress comes from improving and adapting existing products to better meet the needs of our customers. “It takes courage to experiment in collaboration with the customer. We encourage this, but it’s often difficult because customers become used to existing solutions and processes. Here, too: 'Tech is easy, change is hard' applies. Technological developments also increase the testing and roll-out of new apps, so we have to consider the entire ecosystem, not only the app itself. You can't transfer everyone to a new app at once because that would be risky. This leads to internal discussion, because everyone wants to be the first to use innovative solutions,” said Krijgsman.

Humans and Machines Working Together
Wolters Kluwer recently launched an initiative called OneID, in which the identification of all apps is centralized, allowing customers to log in with the same identification, regardless of which Wolters Kluwer apps are used. The Impact of Digitization Krijgsman Ultimately, the systems in all countries will be migrated to OneID, ensuring a transparent and better manageable system. A consistent user experience goes hand in hand with the need for actionable data available at our customers’ fingertips. “Global laws and regulations are fast-moving and have an impact all over the world, and people can no longer keep up. That's why we use data and machine learning to identify which clients of our customers — for example, an accountancy firm — are affected by a change. The accountancy firm will then receive a report on the consequences of the new law and its possible impact on the client”, said Krijgsman and concluding on how digitization can continue to expand: “We must stop thinking in terms of menus. If the customer asks for a milkshake, we shouldn't immediately say that it isn't on the menu because we may have a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some milk and could make them a milkshake after all. Together with business, IT, and UX (user experience) we have to find out what the customer really wants. It's important to find out how we can really help him or her.”