The COVID-19 pandemic exposed digital gaps in companies around the world. Businesses that failed to adapt to the increasingly digital business environment struggled to retain their operational effectiveness. Accelerating digitalization is therefore critical to survive and thrive in the new normal for business across all industries.
Why Should Companies Accelerate Digitalization?
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic enforced a global shift to remote work, digital disruption was critical for growth. Companies who lagged in digital adoption now have to adjust swiftly to be able to survive.
And it’s not just about remote work. Legacy infrastructure has become the main hindrance to organizations that look to automate and optimize processes. Without the ability to scale operational capacity, companies have difficulty sustaining themselves in the pandemic-disrupted business environment with fluctuating demand.
Customers, too, expect businesses to cater to their digital needs, giving them rich, convenient, and safe purchase experiences.
It seems that embracing digitalization has never been more important.
Accelerated digitalization lets companies reimagine business operations and strategies to meet shifting customer expectations, reconfigure supply chains, scale and strengthen existing systems and infrastructure. However, digital adoption is still a difficult task that calls for extraordinary collaboration, communication, and overhaul efforts. In the end, however, the success of the digital shift can often determine the existence, or lack thereof, of a business.
Accelerated Digital Adoption Lets Companies Overcome Crises
Digitalization supports businesses through the whole path of restoration from the COVID-19 disruption. We split this process then into three steps.
Note: The steps are interconnected and iterative: you learn from the implementation of new solutions and apply the experience to continuously refine digital adoption.
In the face of COVID-19 and stalled operations, many business strategies have to be restructured to reflect the upturned business landscape. But to build new strategies, businesses need data and experience—strategies based on data are more likely to work within the unprecedented changes in the business environment.
Before establishing a fresh business strategy that fits in with the new reality, companies can turn to digital solutions as a bandaid to pressing problems.
For example, introduce mitigating actions such as the adoption of digital remote work solutions to maintain or restart essential business functions. Also, refocus operations to serve the customers digitally while ensuring their safety.
What to do:
- Secure new ways of work
- Facilitate collaboration and cooperation using remote work tools
- Refocus operations to cater to the digital customer
- Translate core business processes to safely serve your customers (e.g., introduce contactless payments, minimize in-person customer attendance for transactions)
Businesses should view the crisis as an opportunity to rebuild and strengthen their operations based on new models and strategies that cater to new customer expectations and market demand.
Whereas in the restart phase it was critical to building new distribution channels and services for customers, in the recovery phase, businesses should refine the new solutions and services. Retailers who manage to promptly create seamless ecommerce experiences for their customers will navigate the recovery successfully.
The recovery phase is the time to stabilize all of the implemented changes and further develop supportive infrastructure. It’s the reconnaissance phase—analyze the impact the new digital solutions have on other company departments and key stakeholders.
Seek for areas where the new digital solutions help you reevaluate spending and optimize operations and business processes as you adjust to the new reality.
What to do:
- Rebuild and polish operations based on new insight
- Refine digital innovations and solutions
- Expand infrastructure to support digitalization
As data streams in, businesses can start learning from the recovery and restart phases to further refine their strategies and optimize processes. After the initial chaos, patterns will start to emerge—they will be the foundation for the long-term data-based business strategy.
With plenty of data and insight, you’ll know which solutions to further expand and which can be dropped. A remote model of work and output delivery can also be further optimized.
By continuing to agilely adopt digitalization, each iteration will result in better operational effectiveness.
Highly agile teams, departments, and companies are better at utilizing resources, reducing costs, and operating productively—they can swiftly adapt to the changes in the business environment, becoming more resilient to future disruptions.
Digitalization Gives Businesses a Chance to Grow
During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have increased their consumption of digital channels. From banking and apparel to entertainment and utilities, consumers have globally switched to online services.
By developing digital solutions that respond to the global shift in consumption, businesses can build new distribution models that enhance the customer experience.
Technology also lets companies take a deeper look into previously unavailable data. For example, implementing data and analytics into decision-making is a catalyst for growth and optimization. The more digitalized company operations are, the greater the company’s capacity to create effective data-based strategies.
Accelerated Digital Strategy Is Key to Navigate Crises
Digitalization of business ecosystems opens the door to optimization, cost reduction, and better resource management. By connecting various assets and drawing insight from their relationship, leaders can make more informed decisions. Moreover, digitalization and reconfiguration of the supply chain will help companies link and combine data from multiple sources (both internal and external). With analytics and forecasting demand, planning and resource management is likely to be more accurate