Pre-COVID-19, private and public organizations were on a journey towards a digital business model, travelling at varying speeds. But the scale of the pandemic has forced a dramatic acceleration, both in the speed of change and the required investment in digital transformation.
According to KPMG’s 2020 global survey, organizations are investing heavily in technology to address immediate concerns like falling revenue and interrupted supply chains, and to build longer-term competitiveness and resilience.
t’s a struggle to find many positives about the current coronavirus pandemic, however there are a few interesting aspects that are starting to emerge. Trends that may well bring significant positive benefits as their full impact is felt in the months and years to come. One of these is the likely acceleration of digital transformation projects.
Cyber security and IT operational challenges, cost pressures, risk aversion and the skills gap are all driving the digital transformation agenda. On the plus side, benefits such as innovation and improvement of products and services, efficiency and an uptick in organizational agility are all expected outcomes.
Why Will COVID-19 Accelerate The Pace Of Change?
As vast swathes of the workforce shift to remote working and pressure increases to enable digital delivery of products and services traditionally rooted outside the online space, the pressure to be a truly digital organization will only increase. Organizations of all shapes and sizes will face renewed commercial pressure to negate the downsides through digital transformation and realize the benefits it offers in order to remain viable.
We are in a time where COVID-19 has transformed the future of business forever. Organizations from all sectors globally have been focusing on transforming digitally to ensure that the needs of their organization, customers, citizens, patients, and greater stakeholder community are met. The move from physical and on-premises to digital was critical to ensure organizations’ survival through COVID-19, as well as setting an example for potential challenges that may occur in the future.
There are very few industries unimpacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, retail is an industry that has seen Digital Transformation skyrocket. With the breakneck pace of change required for retailers to compete for business online further compounded by the influx of bricks-and-mortar businesses to e-commerce due to global restrictions and lockdowns, full-scale Digital Transformation very quickly became inevitable.
All this is to say that the conversations in business have shifted rapidly over the past year to a unanimous understanding that digitization of services in addition to industry disruption due to rapid advancements in the technologies available to businesses are now changing the shape of commerce forever. Businesses that want to keep up, or survive in reality, will need to transform radically – not just digitally, but in mindset too.
A McKinsey report argues that “Now is the time to reassess digital initiatives”. The current pandemic is forcing the hand of many to adapt to survive. Never has the phrase, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ been more relatable.
Over the last few months, the way we interact with services has changed. Many of us are now fully ‘remote’—not only are we working from home, but also learning, shopping, exercising, and other day to day activities.
We’ve all had to adjust. But for companies in particular, it’s raising questions about how to maintain business continuity. Unable to conduct business as normal, many have turned to alternative solutions and business models. Restaurants have started providing food deliveries, gyms are offering virtual classes and even hairdressers are offering tutorials online to help people cut their own hair.
These alternative solutions will likely require some form of digital innovation or optimization. In some cases, it’s fast-forwarding digitization processes that businesses were already exploring, and in others, it’s bringing to light new ones which hadn’t been considered.
What does this mean for a post-Covid world?
With many businesses turning to alternative digital solutions now more than ever before, will there be no going back once the Covid pandemic has passed?
If digital solutions are more convenient, offer a better user experience, and are more scalable for businesses, why would we then revert to time-consuming, inefficient manual or face to face processes? Are we seeing a glimpse into the future, where digital processes dramatically improve the way businesses function, and the way they serve customers?
We’re familiar with new tech start-ups, for example challenger banks, using digital processes to their advantage. But we may see more digital processes taken up by traditional services, such as mainstream banks, hotel check-ins, voting and car rentals.
One thing to keep in mind with digital transformation however, is that as it develops, we risk widening the gap between those who turn to digital options and those who don’t. Not only could this impact businesses, but we must also consider customers who might find it more difficult to use digital alternatives, for example older generations.
However, if done right, digital transformation could help secure the future of many companies. The pandemic has highlighted the fact that businesses around the world need to become more flexible and more digital. And that through doing so, it could ensure that they emerge from the Covid pandemic stronger than they were beforehand.
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