Some of us are old enough to remember corporate life before computers – the process of digitalising business began in the 1980s and has been ongoing ever since. At first, the costs of implementation were horrific and the productivity gains hard to see for all the effort. Clattering typewriters were replaced by word processors and soon after by local networks of desktop PCs; then in the early 1990s along came the internet. Replacing local servers with cloud computing, the ubiquity of wi-fi, mobile devices, apps and remote work allowed the world of business to survive the pandemic.

This issue of Contact Magazine Online looks at the current state of digitalisation as it affects every corner of business. How the skills for the future are being shaped, recruitment and retention of tech talent, legal issues, taxation, how digitalisation affects sectors from healthcare to real estate, how it shapes customer service and entertainment. As always, a lot to read; some useful insights for you here.

Two interviews – John Dishman, pro-vice chancellor at Coventry University Goup – the first foreign university to open a campus and offer British degree courses in Poland – talks about the importance of IT for the future of business, and why there’s a strong emphasis on IT courses at Coventry University Wrocław. The second interview is with Tom Soroka, founder of Leaware, a Polish IT company which lists AXA, BNP Paribas, Compensa and PwC among its clients; building the right software for a business case and then building it right is the secret of Leaware’s success.

There are 16 articles in this issue.

Digitalising business so as to work faster and better is a non-stop process, says Daria Erkier of BPower2, a software company bringing ‘digital maturity’ to small- and medium-sized businesses.

Attracting and retaining tech talent is a big issue for many firms. Every business needs to be continually upgrading and improving its digital processes; failure to do so means a loss in competitiveness. Hiring people who can successfully up-skill and motivate existing staff makes sense in a challenging market, says Alicja Malok,  IT recruitment leader at Hays Poland. Training is also important. Digital platforms make this easier! Dr Allan Lawrence of Projects Beyond Borders, considers the impact of digitalisation on training, while language school Berlitz is a perfect case study of how tech has made the acquisition of new skills so much easier.

Michał Bodziony and Kinga Ciosk from PCS Paruch Chruściel Schiffter Stępień | Littler Global look at the impact of new technologies on employment – from the algorithmisation of work to the streamlining of its administrative levels, and discuss some  popular applications of IT in HR.

Tokenisation – representing an asset in the form of a digital record – is not new, but is gaining in popularity thanks to blockchain, or distributed-ledger technology, says Tomasz Zalewski from Bird & Bird, who explains how it works in Polish law.

The next wave of digital transformation will be driven by artificial intelligence, predict Monika Gaczkowska and Norbert Lutowski from Osborne Clarke. Regulation at EU level is just around the corner, its aim being to protect citizens from the consequences of AI – but will it slow progress?

The globalisation of the digital economy goes hand-in-hand with the digitalisation of the global economy. The flow of taxable corporate income from one jurisdiction to another with a lower tax rate has come under increasing scrutiny from governments. Agnieszka Wnuk from MDDP outlines prospective changes in the international tax environment.

Digitalising processes to do with taxation should yield huge productivity returns, once the true costs of manual data entry and the repetitive, mundane work is automated. But it is fraught with pitfalls, especially when dealing with VAT across multiple jurisdictions, says Kamila Sanders from Cash Back Polska. Outsourcing is an answer.

Coming soon to Poland – e-invoicing. Known by its Polish acronym KseF, the new system is currently voluntary, but will be obligatory from early 2024. Malwina Myers and Krzysztof Gołabek from Mazars Poland explain what companies need to be doing to prepare for the change.

Traditionally, the built environment – in particular the construction sector – has been slow to embrace technology. But here and there, digital breakthroughs are occuring. Michał Bryszewski from Savills considers how the work of property managers is being revolutionised through the use of digital tools. BIM – building information modelling – has long been sold as the answer to the technology needs of the real estate & construction sector, but, as Dr Bartosz Zamara from Trebbi Polska points out, there are alternative ways of sharing information about a building.

Healthcare will benefit massively from the digitalisation of patients’ data – both aggregated and individualised. Erling Hesselberg of Crayon focuses on a massive health problem globally – diabetes – and shows how technology can bring huge improvements in diagnosis and treatment.

The pandemic has had a seismic effect on the shift to e-commerce and online advertising. Kazimierz Piekarz of Binaria Upgrade Marketing has the facts and figures and how the scene is changing in Poland. Last year saw digital ad spend rise by 20% on the Polish market, he says.

Digitalising customer satisfaction is critical to ensuring good customer service; a winning personalised approach that can be delivered at scale will depend on solutions such as chatbots and mobile applications, says Alek Pruziński at Deloitte Digital CE.

Finally – digitalisation brings advances in entertainment. For fans of quality British television, there’s the good news that BBC Player has become available to subscribers of the Canal+ online streaming service from the beginning of June.