What COVID-19 Taught Us About Digital Transformation

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COVID-19 is one of the most devastating crises in at least two past decades that has had ruinous business operations. It’s safe to say that COVID-19 has hit the economy harder than the 2008 financial crisis. COVID has also turned 2020 into a tragic year for the majority of businesses, except those that embraced digital initiatives.  Here is what COVID-19 taught us about digital transformation.

Digital operations on an online platform.

When a business is literally transformed digitally and can accomplish all operations on online platforms, regardless of the size and scope, a health crisis like coronavirus has nothing to do with it. In the same way, its destructive effects are minimized, but it may also even cause significant growth. 

Being digitally transformed during a crisis means having a framework to run business stuff without lowering the bar if employees can’t be physically present at the office. This includes flawless communication between employees, accomplishing tasks, managing customers and their engagement, meeting the market requirements and managing projects.

Since every crisis that hits business environments has some lessons to take, the coronavirus brought some good lessons about the importance of digital transformation for businesses when an unprecedented crisis is coming close.  

Let’s see what COVID-19 can teach us about digital transformation.

1. Digital Transformation Is About People, Not the Technology

When it comes to digital transformation, most people think it’s going to be about technologies and tools. It is true, in a sense, but COVID-19 proved that people must take precedence over technology. Transforming people to use digital tools in a chaotic situation is often underrated, and most organizations prioritize adopting digital tools rather than training people. Bear in mind: the people drive digital transformation forward. 

The first step toward implementing a digital transformation strategy is to change people’s mindsets and change their outlook on technology. They need to understand how their routine work will vary by tech-driven tools and how they can make the most of it for being productive and do more in less time. The managers need to draw up the bigger picture for employees and tell them how to rely on digital initiatives during a crisis. 

The second step is to hone the skills and invest in talents. Developing skills and employees’ abilities will help organizations aim for more data-centric initiatives, maximize digital transformation effectiveness, and minimize the possibility of error. 

2. Non-digital Businesses Are Extremely Vulnerable Against a Threat

At the outset of coronavirus, traditional businesses were confused about operating without a physical location or managing their market and customers. At the same time, they are locked in the home. The old-fashioned business model is not applicable when most people rely on their smartphones more than ever, and it just widens the digital gap. 

Newspapers, food and beverage, and in-store shopping are among the industries that have suffered most from COVID-19 impacts, and their business model makes them extremely vulnerable against future threats.  On the other hand, tech-driven businesses can turn every crisis into an opportunity for growth, and while reducing costs, they also increase the revenue. 

Coronavirus is not the first health crisis against human beings and will certainly not be the last. Even in the post-pandemic era, it’s hard for most people to get back to their pre-pandemic behaviors. The lifespan and revenue in post-pandemic times depend on whether it has adopted digital technologies or it wants to continue with old methods. 

3. Businesses Need to Accelerate Digital Transformation Initiatives

The COVID-19 highlighted the fact that the future of business is digital, and at times of uncertainty, only digital initiatives can drive the business forward. While some organizations are still lacking at implementing or accelerating their digital transformation due to the crisis, others are using the current chaotic situation to change the business model and empower departments with digital initiatives.

Recovering from coronavirus impacts requires businesses to accelerate adopting digitalization and look at digital touchpoints to meet customers’ demands. 

There has never been a better time than now to start proactively with tech-driven innovations. According to McKinsey & Company, even before the COVID-19 outbreak, 92 percent of surveyed organizations thought they needed to digitize their business model. 

CEOs need to move the digital transformation from the piloting stage to trial use and then actively use it in business operations. Such a transformation must happen at the core of the business and organizational culture. 

There is no denying that deploying a digital strategy at a large-scale will be a complicated process, requires too much effort to put into it, and won’t happen overnight. But for those looking for sustainable growth and seeking to keep business alive in future storms, there is no plan B. Long-term investment in digital transformation will definitely play out if done correctly.  

4. Significant Potentials for Adopting Digital Transformation Remained Untapped

Amazon’s revenue skyrocketed in the coronavirus pandemic, and demands for digital content helped Netflix to add more than 10 million paid subscribers thanks to the lockdown. Likewise, online services experienced huge growth in demands and customers. 

Despite all the damage, one good aspect of COVID-19 was that it made businesses rethink their potentials to adopt digital transformation. Before the pandemic, some executives believed their organization has no capacity to grow through digital. They can’t rely on digital channels to either meet the market requirements or manage in-office tasks remotely. 

Digital transformation can open up new horizons toward the businesses and make them aware of untapped potential to rise above their current position. Every organization, in any industry with any size, has some untapped potential for using digital initiatives. They just need to overcome the fears of change and see the bigger picture. 

Designing a roadmap, training employees, changing business models and culture, hiring new talents, and using third-party partners are steps needed to be taken by executives to implement a successful digital strategy within the organization. 

Image Credit: cottonbro; pexels

Hamid Ganji

Hamid Ganji

Hamid is a tech enthusiast, researcher, and savvy content marketer with a lot of passion for writing things that people love. He enjoys reading and writing about technology trends, AI, and new gadgets.

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