For a company to be able to exploit sustainable potentials of performance through innovative technologies, the creation of legal, economic and infrastructural framework conditions is necessary as well as an awareness development of economic actors and society for the opportunities of digitization, so that acceptance for economic structural change is created. But the opportunities of digitization are offset by risks that should not be underestimated, which are categorized below.
The use of new technologies influences the way sales employees to work. The constant confrontation with technical devices and the permanent availability of the individual created by the mobility of the technology increase the stress level of the employees. Stress arises from the individual negative assessment of a situation and the stress level builds up continuously based on a large number of negatively assessed situations. The stress level can only be reduced again through mental rest phases, in which one does not think about stressful factors. However, it is more difficult to keep quiet phases, as communication behaviour, which is adapted to the constant use of new technologies, is characterized by an increased amount of stressful information, a constant flow of information and increased complexity due to the diversity and variety of media. In addition, the so-called “fear of missing out” (FOMO) stressor, which describes the fear of missing relevant information, impairs the pausing in the flow of information.
In addition, traditional stressors, such as the achievement of sales targets or price negotiations, and fundamental issues, such as family life, influence the stress level of the sales. The stress level not only has a personal impact on the employee but also on sales as a whole. Stress influences the facial expressions, gestures and choice of words of the employee and thus has a direct effect on his charisma and persuasiveness. This is of great relevance in sales discussions, for example, because the customer consciously registers such distractions and inattentions.
Resulting symptoms, such as tiredness or irritability, can have a direct impact on the activities of the sales representative and a persistent excessive level of stress can even lead to illnesses that cause a permanent absence of the respective sales representative. A distinction between the digitized influence can be made based on the employee functions. Managers are usually shielded from the unfiltered flood of information by the assistance of subordinate employees. However, constant and immediate availability is the greatest stressor for executives. Due to the possibilities of mobile communication, decisions can be made immediately, but this can lead to wrong decisions due to personal overload. External sales employees enable mobile customer relationship management methods to have quick and up-to-date access to sales support materials and current customer information. For internal sales staff, on the other hand, the complexity and simultaneous operation of the various devices is a major stress factor that can usually only be overcome by working overtime.
The generation, analysis and use of customer data are essential success factors for companies. They are considered economic instruments, as they enable targeted application and thus have the potential for customer acquisition. However, they are subject to legal principles and an illegal violation can be punished legally to a large extent. In addition, such incidents have negative effects on the company image and customer loyalty, so that economic consequences are inevitable. Therefore, special attention must be paid to the legal basis for data processing.
As part of customer relationship management (CRM), both basic customer data, such as contract details, and data that provide individual information about personal or factual circumstances of a specific or identifiable natural person, are collected.
These are then personal data, the processing of which by CRM systems is subject to special requirements. The collection, processing and use of personal data and thus of customer data are only permissible according to the principle of prohibition with reservation of permission laid down in law or another regulation which allows or orders this or the person concerned has consented.
However, it is precisely this personal data that provides information about the purchasing and payment behaviour of customers and contributes to detailed market analysis. The legal regulation on data collection, however, has the disadvantage for companies of having to receive the consent first and a revocation of the consent, which can be given by the customer at any time, must be observed by the responsible body. If these are used exclusively to advertise their offers and are not sent to a third company that will be passed. The customer is to be informed of his right of objection when approaching corporate data collection measures and during contract initiation and if an objection takes place, any collection and use of his data for advertising or market research purposes is unlawful. If data protection or an objection is not complied with, a fine can be imposed and supervisory proceedings against the company can be initiated by the responsible data protection authority.
The establishment of CRM systems is permitted within a corporate group, but only the individual company that has collected it may access customer data. An exchange of the data stock may only take place via list data or, if the person concerned has given their consent, to forward their enriched data – this also includes the email address. Internationally, guidelines on the appropriate level of data protection must also be observed.
In the case of mobile devices, the so-called BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) exposes companies to threats. BYOD is a trend that is increasingly being used as new information technology in the corporate area of sales. Employees access the company network via their private mobile devices or use these devices for business purposes. The company must ensure that IT is provided that meets the business requirements and the legal requirements in the market.
Especially in the context of cloud computing, which stores and processes heterogeneous amounts of data, preventing data loss and protecting against data theft and corruption are of great importance. The encryption of the data transmission and data backup within the sales department should meet the data security concept, or a review of the cloud service provider about its security measures should take place.
Trust in technical systems and the IoT is sustainably influenced by information and data security. There is no uniform security concept for IoT compared to current IT systems. It is therefore important to develop strategies and techniques for security in this area.
There are several risks associated with the security of corporate social media accounts. Assigning a password that is too short or too simple enables the attacker to hack into the account using simple means (brute force methods). Even though skilful and manipulative communication, the user can be tricked into revealing passwords and company-internal information so that the attacker can gain access to a company’s systems. Added to this is the spread of malware that can interfere with the entire company operation.
Sales represent a great risk potential for companies in compliance management. Compliance is defined as a management system that takes measures to comply with both legal and internal rules for the implementation of company-specific guiding principles and controls them. The technical innovations that are used to increase efficiency in sales pose new challenges for compliance management.
First of all, there is the deliberate personal or technical disclosure of trade secrets. Disclosing company information before the lock-up period ends can have serious consequences, as trade and business secrets are important resources for the company. For this reason, the transfer abroad and a commercial betrayal is punishable. On the one hand, unwanted disclosure of internal data can be traced back to technical errors, such as the premature publication of a website that is still in the programming phase. On the other hand, in the event of deliberate pricing, new technologies contribute to the rapid dissemination of this information and the effects are much more serious due to the sometimes non-existent possibility of deleting this information on the Internet.
Customer ratings enjoy greater credibility than the company’s own communication with potential customers and can accordingly have a significant impact on sales opportunities. The orientation of purchase decisions to customer ratings on the Internet has been empirically proven numerous times and in this context, negative reviews can have significant consequences. In social media networks, companies have the opportunity to interact with customers through authentic and transparent communication and to influence the publication of texts, but not to control it. In general, the anonymity of the internet allows forgeries of customer ratings by employees of their own company.
However, this approach is highly immoral and publicizing such measures would lead to serious reactions on social media and serious reputational damage. There is a tendency that every employee of a company can write fake reviews for its products or services, as social media and online platforms are accessible to everyone. This fact makes it difficult for compliance management to take preventive measures, especially in places or at times that are no longer subject to operational control.
The communication of a company poses similar risks. New media characterize the rapid and interactive dissemination of communication policy measures, which is why rash statements can lead to considerable loss of reputation. The problem for compliance management is the impossibility of controlling social media. Triggers can be, for example, advertising activities of the company from which an identified group feels excluded or offended. Sales must be able to deal with such unpredictable communication chains, so-called “shit storms”, and take individual coping measures.