COVID-19: The biggest driver of Digital Transformation yet

COVID-19: The biggest driver of Digital Transformation yet

Digital Transformation driver: COVID-19

Last week I came across a tweet that made me think… Did someone just recap the status of digital transformation with a meme? I guess so.

Digital transformation is a buzzword that has been around for years but considering the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept has gained new magnitude.

If we delve into the concept of digital transformation, we’ll see that it is fundamentally change, especially on how companies operate and deliver value to customers.

We don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize that companies haven’t had a choice but to change. Organizations that planned their digital strategy in stages of years, now need to scale up their initiatives in a matter of days or weeks. And let’s not forget about all those companies that lived completely offline and had to adjust their entire reality to the current guidelines.

It is painful work.

From the way we work, to the way we buy products and services, everything went digital–overnight! If the pace of the innovation pre-coronavirus was already fast, the luxury of time now seems to have completely disappeared.

That’s why this crisis is quickly reshaping the “what” and “how” of digital transformation agendas. And in my opinion, for the better! So, I have identified three areas where transformation is playing out a big role across organizations:

1. Enablement of workforce

The ‘work from home’ and other lockdown measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has completely changed the way employees collaborate and work together. I dare to say that this is the first significant step towards real transformation.

For many companies, this is the first time where teams are having to collaborate, operate and communicate virtually through the power of technology. Organizations had to rely more than ever on technology to enable work to happen seamlessly with employees dispersed. As teams move their meetings to conference calls, their workspace to a project management framework and their processes to digital workflows, many are realizing the enormous benefit in efficiency, convenience and transparency that results of digital innovation.

Here at Near Partner, remote work is what we do. As a software-house and an outsourcing partner for companies around the world, part of our daily work is to collaborate remotely with multiple teams globally.  That way we already had many tools that allowed us to smoothly shift our work to home. We are pleased to say that our customer did not feel any impact.

3. Maintain face-to-face communication

So, what tools did we use to accommodate this change? In today’s digital world, we all use similar technology. There is no secret sauce here! You need to create a digital toolbox that facilitates communication, scheduling, project management, file sharing and storage to drive success. Our team mostly uses Microsoft Teams for all our internal necessities. However, many times our clients or other third parties use other tools. So, it’s common to find our teams seamlessly changing throughout the day from Zoom, to Slack, Trello, and other tools.

2. Transforming customer experience

Traditional businesses across all sectors—from healthcare to retail—have been forced to drastically reduce in-person customer interactions. Consequently, COVID-19 has fast-tracked the shift from face-to-face interactions towards omnichannel digital communications. It is no coincidence that Adobe has registered a 33% increase in demand for its e-commerce products since the beginning of the outbreak. Plus, online shopping during COVID-19 has exceeded 2019 holiday season levels, by far!

online shopping during covid-19 has exceeds 2019 holiday season levels

All the organizations that want to remain competitive, and ultimately survive this crisis, had to develop user-friendly, contactless experiences and processes for customers to mitigate the risk of losing them for alternative, more convenient services.

For example, an airline that in normal times had a team of 10/15 people in customer care to process requests for returns. With the lockdown and all planes in land, this department was overwhelmed with work. To quickly process these requests without losing its client, the airline had two options: hire more people or use technology to streamline the approval process to mitigate human intervention.

Plus, let’s keep in mind that customer expectations for these digital services will extend far beyond the pandemic, and organizations that fail to shift to digital or cease supporting digital processes post-COVID-19 will ultimately lose.

3. The power of automation and scalability

Like I said before, the pandemic has brought more changes than any other event we have experienced so far. Some organizations have gone through more digital transformations in the past two months than in the past 5 years. IT automation is one of the main technologies that fuel this digital transformation.

You must remember that no e-commerce solution was designed to serve an entire country that suddenly works from home and makes online purchases at any time of the day. Without automation, even the most considered and prescient architecture would collapse.

And it’s not just online shopping that has been able to sustain unprecedented demand thanks to automation. The sudden transition to a 100% work at home productivity model for most companies worldwide, has generated unpredictable loads on telecommunications links, video conferencing systems, cloud storage solutions, streaming services, and others.

The ability to serve simultaneous users not in predetermined times, for example during major holidays such as Christmas, but during every day for the foreseeable future, would be impossible without the scalability that automation allows.

To meet this demand, organizations turned to robotic process automation (RPA). Robotic process automation is a software, or a ‘robot’, configured to mimic the actions of a human being, using IT systems to conduct a business process. Robots interpret and trigger responses with other systems to perform a wide variety of repetitive tasks. RPA automates repetitive and time-consuming tasks that overwhelm knowledge workers and improve the efficiency and reliability of job results.

In times of crisis, when you need to suddenly scale your processes to an unprecedented level, this is the only sustainable path. This technology has ceased to be the future of business process management and has become central to digital transformations in all sectors today.

B.C. and A.C.: a new era

Nope, I’m not talking about Gregorian calendar. But it is indeed a dating system because there will be a before and after coronavirus.

The COVID-19 pandemic is irreversibly shaping consumer values, habits, consumption patterns and spending behaviors. We will get used to working from home, all-digital communication will be as important as face-to-face interactions and building a direct relationship with customers will be forever a priority but now with less up-close opportunities.

Many companies are speeding up their approach to automation in the midst of this crisis. They are in survival mode and it is understandable. However, this should not be just a quick fix solution. The investment you make now will increase your productivity and innovation well after the pandemic. Automation is now essential for business continuity and will continue to be an essential technology for all organizations soon after the crisis is over.

And remember… When innovation succeeds, the customer wins. Everyone wins.

Therefore, if your organization has limited experience in automating IT processes, the help of the software development outsourcing partner such as Near Partner will be invaluable. We can help your company take the necessary leap towards digital transformation.

What do you think about this? When countries ease or end their lockdowns, will these businesses embrace the opportunity and continue digital transformation, or revert to the previous way of conducting business? Tell us everything!

Patrícia Peixinho

Marketing & communication lover. Curious, imaginative, ingenious. Hungry for challenges and enthusiastic about life!