How COVID-19 is accelerating digital transformation

It wasn’t too long ago that the importance of digital transformation was debated,  being viewed by some as a “nice to have” rather than essential for success. Although this viewpoint had started to lose ground pre-crisis, businesses continued to use manual processes and systems, unaware of the impending chaos COVID-19 would bring.

The damaging effects of COVID-19 have caused many companies to face the harsh reality that remote working isn’t a current possibility for them, as they lack the digital infrastructure required to operate remotely. Others have had to rush in technology to keep their doors open. This has caused a host of issues like extended downtime and productivity lags. Things have become so bleak that the International Monetary Fund has predicted that the global economy will shrink by 3% this year. 

COVID-19’s sudden shock has served as a stark reminder on why digital transformation is essential to protect and grow your business now and in the post-pandemic market. 

“The value of digital channels, products, and operations is immediately obvious to companies everywhere right now,” says Sandy Shen, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner. “This is a wake-up call for organizations that have placed too much focus on daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital business and long-term resilience. Businesses that can shift technology capacity and investments to digital platforms will mitigate the impact of the outbreak and keep their companies running smoothly,” adds Sandy Shen.

“Businesses that can shift technology capacity and investments to digital platforms will mitigate the impact of the outbreak and keep their companies running smoothly.”

Sandy Shen, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner

So, let’s get into some of the ways COVID-19 has inspired businesses to speed up their pace of adoption.

Highlighting the need for digitized business processes and systems

Some businesses have learned the hard way that being stuck with manual processes and systems in a crisis requiring social distancing is disastrous — to put it mildly. There’s a way to avoid this sticky situation – through digitization.

One reason digital transformation has gained significant traction during this pandemic is that it enables businesses to remain open, operating safely and legally. Not to mention it’s vital for eliminating repetitive tasks that drain resources and reduce productivity. 

It’s not surprising that Adobe found that companies adopting a digital-first approach are 64% more likely than their peers to exceed their business goals

Allowing technology to do the legwork frees up your staff to focus on their targets while ensuring jobs are completed cost-effectively and efficiently.

Encouraging risk reduction, increased agility, and diversified revenue streams using digital solutions 

The COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted the need for greater business agility in times of emergency. One of the simplest ways to achieve agility is via digital processes and tools that support the pandemic remote work trend.

For example, the ability to transition working from the office to home using cloud-based solutions has drastically reduced the risk exposure and downtime experienced by companies who have embraced the digital way of working. 

Then there’s the topic of revenue. Even before the pandemic, more businesses were realizing that having an e-commerce platform was crucial for generating more income. 

digital transformation initiative
43% of companies are set to invest more in employee communication, collaboration, and mobile devices

This sentiment rings true today as COVID-19 has further stressed why digital transformation is needed to diversify revenue streams and shield bottom lines from costly cash flow disruptions. In the UK, April online sales skyrocketed by 23.8% — a 10-year high according to research by IMRG.  Also, an IDC survey reported 32 CXOs found that the opportunity to create an online channel for business development and marketing was one of the top benefits of digital transformation during the COVID-19 crisis. Embarking on a digital transformation initiative will build resilience ensuring your company is equipped to weather the storm and attain success.

Shifts towards customer-centric and employee-centered approaches using digital business process transformation

With in-person channels of communication, like on-site meetings and conferences, postponed for the near future, digital transformation is helping companies adopt a more customer-centric approach through technology. Communicating with customers via chatbots and live chat options have become more prevalent and perceived as less intrusive. 

Also, the emphasis on social distancing has led to easier payment options, like “one-click” systems and cashless payment options in stores to make the customer experience more seamless, enjoyable, and memorable. . 

Things will only become more sophisticated as time goes on. An April 2020 OpsRamp survey found that 61% of respondents plan to accelerate spending on digital transformation to support the forced transition to remote work and fully digital customer interactions. Also, 43% of companies surveyed by S&P Global Market Intelligence are set to invest more in employee communication, collaboration, and mobile devices and solutions, to name just a few. 

Businesses are also paying more attention to their employees’ experience in their digital transformation initiative by implementing better ways to stay connected, collaborate, and boost their workforce morale. For instance, companies like Equinix, a data center and colocation provider, have set up daily online sessions to facilitate online ”water cooler” style chats between colleagues. They’ve also implemented a 24/7 “virtual tech bar” to assist their employees. 

Embracing digital transformation will help your business position itself as the go-to service provider in your field and boost employee happiness by enabling you to respond to the client, employee, and market needs.

Accelerate your digital transformation journey

While the benefits of digital transformation are plentiful, you may be unsure of how to get started. You aren’t alone. A Gartner study found that while 87% of executives cited digital transformation as a priority, just 40% of them have adopted it to their full capacity.

Want to kickstart your department’s digital transformation? Here’s a list of areas your teams can use digital tools to ensure business continuity during the pandemic: 

  • Document creation and storage – migrate your files to the cloud for centralized archiving and easier retrieval. Automate your document workflows with tools that track all changes for future auditing purposes. 
  • Team collaboration – create project plans and strategies in real time with your team remotely.
  • Meetings and summits – take your client and team board meetings online with video conferencing tools.
  • Project management – track project progress and delegate tasks from one dedicated platform.
  • Desktop management – take your desktop from native to online to ensure secure access anytime, anywhere using virtual desktop tools.
  • Employee benefits and recognition – make life working from home more comfortable and acknowledge a job well done with wellness, recognition, and rewards portals.

The rapid acceleration of digital transformation during the pandemic has proven that digitized business processes, systems, and tools are must-haves for success in a world where remote work and social distancing have become the norm.

The importance of digital transformation in your business strategy can’t be understated. By harnessing the power of digital tools, you can have greater efficiency, productivity, agility, resilience, as well as improved customer and employee satisfaction.

The risks of delaying your digital transformation far outweigh the initial investment of resources required to get started. Don’t miss out on the chance to revolutionize your business and get ahead of your competition. Act now, while the opportunity is still ripe!

Learn how you can kickstart your digital transformation journey