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Competitive intelligence from an assistant’s perspective

Competitive intelligence from an assistant’s perspective

Do you recognize these headlines?  “How do you handle the digitalization? “6 ways your work will changes in 2016”, “What happens when the Millennials take over?”

Really good results come when you see the possibilities in the changes that characterize today's working life. Really good results come when you have the ambition to change, improve and refine your work. And really good results come, above all, when you have fun along the way! That is why the Swedish annual conference Expanding Horizons (Vidgade Vyer) chose to have Happy Results as this year's theme.

The conference “Expanding Horizons” (Vidgade Vyer) is arranged by the Swedish training company Företagsuniversitetet, who are also a corporate member of EUMA Sweden.

During this conference in February 2016, a panel debate about trends in our profession and the fast changing environment we all work in took place.

The debate was moderated by Tilde de Paula Eby, Swedish TV personality, and representing our profession was Else-Britt Lundgren, Executive Assistant & Office Manager, Eli Lilly Sweden and Sofie Koark, Executive Assistant, Academic Work. Inhouse recruitment agency also took part and was represented by Evelina Lycke.

The three participants had all read articles and in other ways immersed themselves in the subjects.  You will find the links to some of the articles below.

Sofie Koark started out by taking us through some articles on digitalization that she had read. We are living in a digital world and it is very important that we keep ourselves informed and have knowledge about, for instance, what the young generation is using and what is new on the market. You don’t have to use everything but you need to have some knowledge about it. What the young people are using today, we (and our companies) will use tomorrow!

Else-Britt Lundgren had focused on the Millennials. They are born between 1980 and 2000 and are already a part of our work places. How shall we cooperate in the best way with this generation and understand each other better? The older generations are very loyal to the company. The Millennials often have another view of their professional role. The values and visions of the company have to correspond to their own to a higher extent.

Evelina Lycke was asked to elaborate around recruitment and what the customers ask for and what they will need in the future.  Project management skills, business knowledge and good communicators are some example of this. Her advice to us is to be brave, step outside your comfort zone and take more space! Usually we are very good at these things but it might not be acknowledged by others.

Sofie came back with more thoughts on the digital world. You just have to accept the way it is, there is no turning back!  Disruptive business – when new ideas take over and replace what we have today and you don’t adapt to it quickly enough – e.g. Kodak and Nokia. If these companies had been in the front line and adapted to new ideas, this would not have happened and it shows how extremely important it is to follow the trends and development in the world. Business intelligence and digital competence are essential for your business today.

Else-Britt – referred to Barclays Bank, who announced a new initiative in 2013 called Digital Eagles. Turning employees into digital advocates is a challenge many corporations are not yet ready to face. They think there are too many risks, but Barclays is benefiting from this. Barclays has turned 20,000 of its staff worldwide into digital advocates and over 12,000 in the UK. The Barclays Digital Eagles are employees with a passion for online and social media who volunteer their time to explain technology to their colleagues and the public. Read more about this here.

Moderator Tilde joined the discussion with an input regarding source criticism from her journalistic point of view. Today she feels like it is more or less gone. Everyone can post anything on social media and it is regarded as a truth. You know exactly what a person think, but is it really the truth? As a journalist this is very complicated to relate to.

Sofie brought up Snapchat, which is increasing in usage today. Companies are starting to see this. Sofie’s advice is to try to get some insights about it, talk to your kids, who are probably using it, try to keep yourselves informed. Snapchat, Tinder, Uber, Airbnb etc. are companies who have built a digital platform that other companies can and will use in the future. When other companies see that it works, why create the wheel all over again, better to “steel” good ideas and work on them.

Else-Britt came back to the Millennials. They will represent 50% of the global workforce by 2020. In the past it was more the older generation who had been in the company for a long time they were the ones to teach the younger generation when they stepped in to the workplace. Today that is changing, of course the one who has more experiences have to share it, but they need to be more open and learn from the younger generation, the Millennials, as they are more experts on how to connect and communicate with the new technical tools. Read more about the Millennials here.

Evelina from Inhouse commented the role of the assistant who in the past was mostly a support function but today is a more of a project leader and a driven member of the organization with an aim to really understand the business and the organization. Top management assistants are looked upon more as partners today. It is important that Executive Assistants define what skills they have that cannot be beaten by a computer!

Each participant was asked to give a few final words of advice that the participants can bring with them for the future.

Sofiechange your attitude, test new ideas and be creative.

Else-Brittbe curious and be open towards Millennials that have grown up in the internet generation.

Evelina be better in telling people about your skills and emphasize your role.

Written by Kristina Fagerholm, EUMA Sweden PR Officer