Digital Transformation in the age of COVID-19

COVID-19, by limiting us to our homes and bringing the global economy to a standstill has proved that the world healthcare ecosystem is not prepared for a pandemic. However, what it did teach us is that as consumers we are prepared to adopt the digital era in all life facets.  

This new found pro digital movement, however, has shown a glaring picture as well - despite of the preparatory stages that businesses and governments had entered into years ago, there still exists a disequilibrium )of sky ground size) in the demand of going digital and supply of digital solutions support. 

To close the gap, businesses which had mapped their digital strategies in two to three years phases have brought down the initiative activation milestone to as low as a couple of days and weeks. 

In a European survey, nearly 70 percent of executives from regions like Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, said that the pandemic is possibly going to speed up their digital transformation efforts. This speedening is visible across a range of geographies and sectors.

Consider how:

  • their physical banking channels online. 
  • How the healthcare service providers have moved into telehealth while the insurers have started focusing on self-service assessment of claims. 
  • And the retailers have started focusing on contactless purchasing and delivery. 

A trend that we are seeing emerging is that digital foundations are helping top cream companies adapt and grow in the crisis situation quickly. Brands like Walmart, Amazon, Citrix, and Netflix etc. which are known to be the digital leaders are performing a lot better in this crisis - we are constantly seeing them doubling down their investments for widening the gap. On the other hand, the laggards still have a scope of catching up if they jump-start the digital chart at a greater speed. 

When we work with clients on their digital transformation journey, most of the CEO/CMO executives tell us that while they understand the end goals and the fact that it has become the only survival mode, they are unsure of how to get there with confidence and godspeed. 

What we suggest to them is to look into where they currently stand in addition to lowering their expectations. The reality for companies that have never been digital or have been keeping adoption their third or fourth priority is that they cannot just wake up one day and reduce costs and change how their employees view digital transformation and customers expectations - all the while pivoting toward newer growth opportunities.  

Once they realize where they presently stand and how far the bar has been raised, we start at a point where they understand the need better. This is where we help them bounce ahead from competition by helping them rethink transformation through these practices:

Cloud Migration

Digital leaders are able to develop a digital base and scale it across the business when they have a strong foundation in cloud. A foundation that is built on efficiency, innovation, and talent based advantages for delivering outcomes fast and differently. 

We ask them to make a cloud migration and expertise a leadership level agenda. We ask them to set a target of shifting a minimum of 60% of their business on the cloud in the next quarter.

Go Back to the New Basics

A good amount of clients that come to us seeking help with their digital transformation needs are top in their industries. However, for achieving true digital transformations, businesses have to relook and redefine their traditional modes of doing a process and delivering values. We ask them to learn from their employees, clients, and the emerging digital-only competitors to know how they are approaching the service delivery that they are. 

According to a McKinsey report, bold moves taken to adopt digital technologies at scale and early when combined with greater allocation of digital-focused resources aligns with high value creation. 

Retain forced “agility”

The moment the coronavirus was announced to be transmitted through physical spaces and interactions, the foundation of work from the office fell down like a house of cards.  Almost overnight, businesses became digital enough to enable organization-wide remote working. What was then forced has become a new trend now with employees and executives alike saying that they don’t want to go back. 

To retain this speed in digital adoption, look back at the challenges you faced - internally and externally - which prevented you from achieving your goals. Then, develop lean processes to aid decision making and streamline the procurement process, evolve the culture for aiding new working methods. 

In the situations of extreme unclarity, where we are living under today, the leadership teams have to learn what is working for them and what is not, quickly. This calls for identifying and leaning unknown elements as and when they appear. 

Refocus on Technologies 

The sudden shift to the virtual interactions and operations both outside and inside the organization offers an opportunity for speed up the process of learning about and adopting new technologies which your businesses must have only started experimenting with. 

Up until this point, as CEOs and CMOs you must have realized the pain points in the present technology stack. You also must have gotten a preview on the impact that the technology stack would have if carried forward. 

In the ode of adopting new technologies, we help our clients look at the process on these grounds:

  • Scalability - ever since you have shifted to virtual delivery of your services, have you been able to maintain the customer inflow and acquisition or has the number lowered. If it’s the same, is your digital architecture prepared to increase the count? For improving scalability, we generally advise our clients to work on their backend by moving to microservice architecture and leg up their cloud migration efforts. 

  • Data security - were there any data breaches you faced when you shifted to remote working mode and the subsequent data sharing practices? If yes, you can look into technologies like AI, Blockchain, IoT etc to make the data movement secure in the future. 

  • Usability - before the crisis, the consumers and business partners had little choice in how they accessed your services or products through the new digital offerings. The options, however, have expanded at a stage where we are coming out of the eye of the crisis. 

Relook your offerings - if they stack up your internal and external stakeholders expectations. If the usability is low, any digital consultancy firm would advise you to work on improving it by learning from your customers and employees. 

Expedite the Outcome 

The only way businesses can take advantage of digital-movement friendly time is by developing a culture of constant innovation. They should begin by developing a task force in businesses to look at contributing external factors, review the internal processes and limitations, identify new opportunities, and all the while, keep an eye on competition. 

It has become all the more crucial for them to partner with an external digital transformation consultancy firm which can help their team and processes understand what is lacking and look at new opportunities from a digital perspective. The opportunities should then be combined with a new fail-fast culture that helps in understanding customers' needs which are rapidly changing and then create prototypes to gain customers’ feedback and see how digital tools help move them into becoming loyal consumers. 

Accept that Perfection is Good’s Enemy

In our experience, there’s nothing that pulls back an organization’s digital adoption efforts than them aiming to be perfect - the perfect digital message, perfect tools, perfect optimization, etc. the sudden nature of COVID-19 has given birth to a shift from “after months of hypothesis and A/B testing, we have assembled the best digital plan” to “it works”. 

The present time has gotten the Agile Manifesto concept of “Working Software” the rightful space under the sun that it deserves.  

Parting Statement

It is more or less the rule of human nature that the best learnings happen in some of the most uncertain and devastating times. The present coronavirus crisis fits all the boxes of being an uncertain and devastating event. 

We know that the companies and even industries which simultaneously learn the newness and are open and quick to adapt them with the help of acceleration that digital offerings provide will be able to rise above day-to-day digital demands. The unique insights that they will draw from their employees and customers at this point will help them ensure that the digital future is a lot more robust as we come out of the COVID-19 crisis than it was when we were coming in.

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