28.04.2020.

Ingemārs Liakovičus

Best regards, COVID 19 Your Digitalization Partner

At the beginning of last year, I received an unexpected call from my 73-years-young mom who said that she was ready and committed to buy a smartphone and asked for my help in choosing a model and settling the formalities. It should be noted that several years ago I tried in every way to persuade my mother to use my old computer, get an Internet connection and learn minimal computer skills. My mom changed her perspective as a result of communication with more technologically mature friends of her age – she simply got interested. Now my mother makes bank transfers, finds out diseases matching self-diagnosed symptoms, and explores the world. Yesterday, during yet another WhatsApp video call, my mother said that apparently a higher force had encouraged her to go into the direction of technological enlightenment at the right time as she could not imagine how she would survive in this turbulent time without the Internet and a smartphone.

Today, people in many families help each other master a variety of technologies that, in one way or another, allow them to adapt to the situation, continue to perform their job duties and ensure functioning of the household.

I bet that even the most active deniers of technologies are currently checking out a new application or trying to connect to a new IT solution, which didn’t exist to them before, becoming more and more digitally and technologically smarter every day.

You know what makes me happy?

Every year, the European Union (EU) publishes the DESI (Digital Economy and Society Index), describing digital development and competitiveness of each EU country (Figure 1). In 2019, Latvia was closer to the tail end of the index (18th place out of 28 countries), but, as the chart shows, the main driving force of our still relatively good statistical results is the Internet speed in our country. On the other hand, when taking a look at the section Human Capital, which describes society's digital skills (use of various programs, applications), and the section Integration of Digital Technology, which shows companies' readiness to implement new IT solutions (understanding of technologies), Latvia takes one of the lowest places among all EU countries. However, the COVID-19 crisis can help us to significantly increase these DESI results, while higher results are clearly linked to economic efficiency and competitiveness.

In short, there is a reason to believe that during the crisis – but especially thereafter – we will implement IT solutions in our business much faster and our economy will become stronger.

Graph showing how the countries are ranking in DESI 2019 Index

 Figure 1. 2019 DESI chart

Digital Mind has been focusing on organizational efficiency and bridging the digital interruptions for more than 16 years.

One of the most popular digital interruptions is printing, signing, scanning and sending of electronically coordinated and validated documents to a partner, followed by scanning and storage of mutually signed originals in both electronic and physical archives.

The first document was signed in Latvia with an electronic signature back on 4th October 2006, but for all these 14 years, the vast majority of Latvian organizations, without using the possibilities of an electronic signature, have chosen to live with this digital interruption, creating for themselves numerous difficult problems. There are several reasons for this, and one of them is opportunities and challenges of old-fashioned technologies used. The situation in Latvia is in no way unique, so I will not discuss this issue in detail here. But now the old technologies have been replaced by new ones - and electronic signatures have become simple and understandable. Each of us has a signing tool in our pocket. The Digital Mind product range includes the SigningServices solution, an aggregator of electronic signature tools for organizations to sign documents with all electronic signature tools available in the region, ready to be incorporated in companies’ IT systems and e-channels. The mission of the solution is to simplify the signing process as much as possible by automating all non-value-creating activities enabling fully digital business for organizations.

We are currently experiencing a very high level of interest in the topic of electronic signing in general, as well as in our product. But we are mostly happy about the overall trend and the society’s readiness to fix the digital interruption and sign documents electronically. This will be another benefit of the COVID-19 crisis making business processes more efficient.

Recently I boldly predicted on the business technology platform BiSmart that electronic signing in Latvia will become the dominant form of signing in the next 3-5 years. Well, I've probably been too conservative. Welcome to the 21st century!

Ever since we started helping companies become digital, our main customers have been senior business executives, mostly CFOs or administrative managers. They are responsible for the efficiency and competitiveness of the company. I believe that as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, digitalization issues will also be on the agenda of strategic and business risk prevention specialists. They will be tasked with a duty to make sure that their IT infrastructure, its settings, technologies used and technological know-how of the company’s employees can ensure the continuity of the company's operations, service provision and product manufacturing, along with the company's sustainability. Thus, the topic of digitization will receive more internal support in organizations.

As you know, every crisis is an opportunity – what does not kill us makes us stronger. The virus will be with us for a long time, and we must be able to adapt to each and every change dictated by the virus as quickly as possible. If we will all collectively remember this, we will get through this time. COVID-19 is not a comet. There will be life after COVID. The same life, only more digital.

Ingemārs Liakovičus,

JSC Digital Mind, CEO