COVID-19 has impacted the whole world and has forced changes onto the world that no one ever expected. Many cities, even a few countries, are essentially closed or quarantined. Millions of businesses have been forced to close. Travel is difficult-to-impossible in many places. The world is at a crawl or even a standstill. Leadership in science, business, and politics likely never imagined such a scenario, and now the only permanent thing seems to be change.
A situation this overwhelming, and changing this fast, has forced millions of businesses to move onto the path of digital transformation. COVID-19 has the “what” and “how” of the business world, and has done so almost overnight, as the demand for services to enable businesses to become digital enterprises has spiked wildly.
As fraught as the current situation is, the snarl in business that COVID has created could spur a positive movement toward the adoption of digital tools and platforms, which could lead to better and more efficient organizations. The roadmap to Digital transformation is much more than just innovation or using new technology. Companies that can think fast and plan their digital futures quickly will be the ones to stay ahead in a highly competitive, ever-changing business environment.
Recent statistics from Forbes suggest something new and exciting is on the horizon:
- 56% of CEOs state that digital improvements have led to an increase in revenue.
- 93% of companies understand the need for implementing innovative technologies in order to reach their digital transformation targets.
- By 2022, a person’s personal mobile device will know more about their owner than their family knows.
Digital Transformation Roadmap to Success
Extensive surveys conducted by multiple organizations have highlighted the basic need for smooth transitioning to digital platforms. Here are a few things for a business to consider when going digital.
- Infrastructure: To ensure a smooth transition, businesses must strike a balance between cybersecurity, data privacy, and other technology-related departments. They must make themselves flexible, being capable of ramping their capabilities up and down as needed.
- Data: Any kind of data can be useful to a business, as it can be analyzed and studied. Collected data should be gathered and stored safely, while allowing ease of access to support optimizing efficiency, increasing revenue, and bolstering customer engagement.
- Internal Resources: While it is a difficult challenge, a business adopting the practice of digital transformation must revamp its internal skill sets, tapping the experience and talents available to the organization. Teams must be open to learning to use new tools and methods, and do so positively, to help the business change.
- External Resources: It isn’t just internal stakeholders who need to get fully on board with digital transformation policies. External resources must also be tapped to support an organization’s efforts. Research and development organizations, tech incubators, and technology accelerator companies are also likely required to supplement needs in technology, intellectual property, and the transmission of skills to internal teams.
- Business Model: The company’s business model should be optimized to facilitate the needs of the digital transformation policy. The change or expansion needs to be swift, yet seamless, in order to ensure no disruptions to the business.
- Organizational Processes: The overall workflow in the company, and end-to-end communication channels, must be updated to put both human and technological resources to their best use.
- Your Customer, the Goal: Whatever business plan is adopted, the end goal of digital transformation is to generate revenue and a customer-centric culture. A plan that skillfully blends human and digital resources to reach the customer and address their needs is the best one to adopt and implement.
Business Sectors in the Wake of COVID-19
Well-implemented technology can significantly aid almost all types of organizations. But the fact is that not all companies move ahead with the technology needed to achieve success. In the wake of COVID-19, some business sectors have plowed forward, seamlessly adopting digital transformation and seen accelerated growth as a result, while others have not.
Significantly, Forbes found that around 40% of companies they surveyed said that they have dedicated digital transformation teams in place, whereas 37% of companies claim that having a digital transformation roadmap has helped them create new jobs. Many business sectors have seen significant changes in response to the pandemic:
- Work From Home: Many companies that were strongly against the idea of a disrupted workforce are now forced to take up a work-from-home model. In the period of lockdowns and social distancing, it has become inevitable, and unavoidable. According to a survey by Workhuman, only one-third of people worked from home before the pandemic. Now, the facts on the ground mean companies must welcome work-from-home policies, and digital transformation has made that possible.
- Telemedicine: Sounds like something new, right? Remarkable progress has been made in the field of telemedicine, an absolute necessity for some during the pandemic. The healthcare system has expanded, and tools used to diagnose illnesses remotely are now available. By limiting contact via telemedicine, the spread of the virus can be slowed. With a smartphone, reaching a healthcare provider from the comfort of home in order to get a diagnosis is now possible. There are still challenges to overcome, but it is a breakthrough in healthcare.
- Remote Learning: Education should never stop, but COVID-19 sure disrupted it. The pandemic lead to the closure of learning institutions from pre-school up through college for long, sometimes indefinite periods. A widely-adopted safety measure has been reducing or eliminating physical contact between students, faculty, and staff. The digital transformation of the classroom into an online experience helps students maintain the continuity of their education in a hassle-free way.
Virtual Events: Business meetings, conferences, seminars, and trade fairs that used to be organized events in physical spaces are now being done on digital platforms. Business minds from across the world meet and exchange their ideas online via video conference, allowing them to build professional relationships, even as some companies are trying to bridge the gap between in-person meetings and virtual ones. The push to digital platforms has accelerated the pace of innovation in this area.
It is important for any new business model to be optimized. Digital transformation roadmap is all about teams in different areas working in collaboration with the tech companies rolling out new tools for different sectors in order for the changes to be seamless. Tools provided by tech companies that can help your business move forward with their digital transformation during the pandemic period include:
- Google: Hangout, Google Duo, Google Classroom, and more, with many choices being offered at affordable prices.
- Microsoft: Microsoft Teams and Outlook offer seamless connectivity with colleagues.
Zoom: At no cost, Zoom can provide a smooth meeting for 40-minutes with a basic plan.
Opportunities to Explore During COVID
COVID-19 has disrupted much of the way the world normally works, but it has also created a lot of opportunities for businesses.
- Commercial airlines are offering up their cargo facilities.
- Grocery stores have created home delivery services, and curbside pickup.
- Hotels are offering quarantine facilities for travelers.
- Self-driving cars from GM are offering food delivery services.
COVID-19 has changed almost every business, and in large and small ways. The fallout has proven the axiom “necessity is the mother of invention” to be truer than ever. As long as the future of the pandemic remains unpredictable, the transformation of business strategies will continue, so embracing the massive change happening in digital transformation and exploring new ways to do business and having a roadmap for it are the best ways for companies to stay competitive.