Digital transformation was chugging away behind the scenes at many businesses pre-pandemic, but during and even post-COVID-19 has changed the playing field. It’s no revelation to say that businesses across sectors worldwide have had to rely on tech and home working to get through the past months.
Then there’s all the noise around “the new norm.” How will the world look after the fallout? Will we change the way we work forever? All this and more is worth chewing over. And although we don’t have solid answers right now, one thing is for sure. Digital transformation is back (if it ever went anywhere in the first place.) And it’s bigger than ever.
The digital transformation fast-track
How have you coped during lockdown? That question has been aired more times than we care to count. With good reason, and it can be applied to everything from home-schooling, to socialising, to work.
And how have we collectively coped with these overarching life themes? We’ve turned to technology. We use digital resources to school our kids, video conferencing to speak to friends. We do everything work-related from our home offices. The truth is, the better a business can operate using tech, the better its chances of survival.
So, it’s little wonder than many companies and organisations are fast-tracking digital transformation projects. Even businesses resistant to home working have discovered its potential. This in itself has revolutionised the workforce and empowered many to work from home (figures like 49% of the UK workforce have been reported by the ONS,) and as we slowly ease back into “normal life,” those figures are going up, not down.
Keeping businesses afloat
When we talk about that fast-track, this is what we mean. McKinsey reports that businesses usually map around one-to-three years for digital transformation projects. Wait for years in the current climate, you’ll be in big trouble.
The same report from McKinsey goes further to state that around 70% of executives across several surveyed European countries say the pandemic will “accelerate the pace of their digital transformation.” And we can see this in our everyday lives, as more businesses adopt tech to function better or simply stay afloat. Just take things like events for instance. Or online shopping. Or digital payments.
Scaling up digital transformation
It’s not just about speeding up digital transformation. It’s also a case of scaling it up. More and more businesses are tackling digital initiatives within short spaces of time. And the driving force, need we say it, is the people who need, or want to interact with brands in the first place.
An article in The Drum reveals that 92% of consumers believe that brands should both advertise and be there for them during the coronavirus pandemic. And although we’re not talking about advertising per se, this shows us that people still want access to brands. Digital is the only way to get that during a pandemic. Adopting digital strategies is the way to connect with customers and keep brand messages alive. As well as offering practical solutions.
What global CEOs say
While this is all very much about the here and now, there is a future beyond COVID-19. There are so many theories around what that will look like. Maybe it’ll all go back to how it was? Perhaps the world will change on its axis and become unrecognisable?
The CEOs in charge of leading digital transformation have their ideas. This article from McKinsey draws attention to a trending meme on the three drivers behind digital transformation projects. The CEO. The Chief Digital Officer. And COVID-19.
Although this article highlights that the percentage of companies who believed in digital transformation pre-Coronavirus was high, it’s shifted the approach. Rather than spending time experimenting, it’s all about scaling-up the “testing and continuous improvement.” In other words, digital projects need to get up and running quickly and smartly.
The future is here
If you’ve ever indulged in a sci-fi fix, you’ll be familiar with the image of futuristic cities. That world has always seemed an arm’s reach away, even as tech advancements accelerated over recent decades.
Partly because certain industries have still used the old ways to get by. Take manufacturing supply chains for instance. Or car sales. Tesla is one of the few brands to see increased sales during COVID, because they’ve made it easy for people to buy online. This shows us that we already had the answer. We have the tech to agilely get around problematic systems. And this extends across sectors. Across businesses. Across the world.
Now, depending on the particular sci-fi vision you have in your head, this reality may or may not marry up. But you can be sure that tech solutions are going to change the way businesses operate forever. Yes, this probably would have slowly worked its way into our world anyway. But we’ve been given a huge kick to do it faster.
Change is coming, at pace.
All of us can think of a way, or a few them, of using tech during COVID-19. If you wanted to get all visionary on us, you could say it’s a revolution in the true sense. The people are driving this digital transformation, or acceleration of it because they want access to brands, services. They want social interactions, arts, and events.
It’s not that we didn’t have the tech before. Or that CEOs and businesses didn’t see the potential of digital transformation. It’s been a hot topic for some time. It’s the approach that’s changed. We’ve moved from tentatively testing the waters, to jumping in and throwing all our efforts into making digital work. In the process, we’ve reimagined our existence. From those three elements, we started with at the beginning of this article. Work. Education. Social.
It’s all been thrown off-balance. And yes, it hasn’t been an easy ride so far. Some things are not solved from logging onto your laptop. It’s not a cure-all for hugging your friends or being in an educational setting with a teacher on hand. But it has shown us that life could be different. Life needs to be different if we are to grow and improve. Change is coming, at pace.