Digital Transformation: COVID-19 Sovereign Ruler of the Business Landscape

Digital Transformation: COVID-19 Sovereign Ruler of the Business Landscape

So, who brought on digital transformation for your company?

Was it your CEO? CDO maybe? Or maybe, it was COVID-19.

No, I did not make that joke up. It is actually a retelling of a popular post circulating around the Internet for a few weeks now. And for some reason it made me chuckle. 

COVID-19 has brought on a lot of change for all of us. From our spending habits to our normal routine. And along the way, it has also worked as a major catalyst for the much needed digital transformation in various industries.

As major organizations play the catch-up game, there are a lot of questions that are being asked. Besides the obvious- “is digital transformation really necessary?” there is “how to grow a business with digital transformation?” and another important  “will digital transformation be the answer to every industry question in the post-pandemic landscape?”

Well, I can not say that I have all the answers to these questions, nor can I see the future (I’m not the prophet of Delphi, come on). But, I’m still curious. So I’m going to explore some important points about the accelerated digital transformation trend during COVID-19 and try to find the answer. And you are more than welcome to join me on that journey. 

Cataclysmic Pandemic: The Perfect Catalyst For Digital Transformation

The conditions under which the pandemic has pushed us worked as a perfect catalyst to a lot of changes, and one of them happens to be the mass adoption of a robust digitization program across industries. Considering the recent situation, where social distancing is the key to protecting ourselves and our family from the disease, this transformation does not only make sense, but it’s quite necessary.

And thus we moved from having board meetings to conference calls, client chats to video chats, working at the office to working from home. It is already being said that manufacturing will see 5 years worth of innovation in the next 18 months, due to the Pandemic. But the question that remains is this- will the rapid digital transformation program of the business process only serve as a way of surviving the storm, or will it contribute to the future recovery as well?

A Short Time Survival Or Long Time Recovery?

During the pandemic, corporates are reacting in two distinct ways. Some are cutting corners, whether it is laying off employees, reeling in business, or trying to raise more funds. Some, on the other hand, is changing the traditional business methods followed for a long time. These companies are building a flexible digital platform, facilitating long distant work process, etc. while both ways will help them to survive during the pandemic, the real difference of these reactions will become prominent after.

There’s no confusion about a recession looming over all our heads. And if there’s one thing you can learn from the last economic crisis of 2007-2008, is this-

The speed of the decision-making process directly affects the resilience of the business, and the resilience will determine whether a business sinks or swims during the crisis.

Studies done on the companies that survived in the last economic crisis showed that companies that moved fast during the crisis period, made quick changes, and adapted better to the ongoing trends fared better than their peers. Not just faring better, they recovered much faster and eventually became world leaders in their designated markets while their competitors lagged behind. 

So for those who are thinking about the long term future of their business and how they are going to recover from the oncoming recession- now is the time to move. Once you make that decision to digitally transform the production process, not only will you be able to survive this storm but also be able to recover much faster from the economical effects of the pandemic. 

The Plan To Action: How To Begin The Business Transformation?

When all is said and done, the question that remains is how to tie the bell around the cat’s neck?

The cat’s neck is your business, and the bell is digital transformation. 

But seriously though how do you go about changing the business for a digital future. There is not exactly a map ready-made for this purpose. And chances are that you already have some automated solutions integrated within the system. So how are you going to do it? Well, here is a basic plan for anyone out there who is thinking about the b2b digital transformation of their business and yet does not know how to proceed.

1. First Things First: Knowing The Business

Digital Transformation In industries like Healthcare is no doubt hard, but having a set plan can make the transitions a lot easier. And if you are building a plan for that, make sure the first step is to analyze and understand the business needs. 

Business needs and goals tend to change depending on the market scenario, the size of the business, and many other crucial factors. Before making a move, entrepreneurs have to understand what the business needs in order to grow. Does it need a better communication channel for the clients? Maybe a better-centralized system for the smooth flow of data within the departments? Or maybe it needs tools for the employees to collaborate and work better?

Understanding the organization will help to create a plan that has digital solutions necessary for growth at its core. It will help to choose the specific solutions you need, the features and functionalities that will become necessary in the future as well as help the company to recover fast from an economic crisis.

2. Plan, But Avoid The Pitfalls

Once you have a grasp at what your business needs, it’s time to plan the digital transition. Whether you are from the food industry or looking for digital transformation in entertainment solutions, having a plan is important.

Based on the requirements of the business you have to choose the digital solutions your business needs, and slowly start to integrate it within the business process. Having a set plan for this transition will help in overcoming any kind of unexpected hassle you might face. Added to that strategizing will assist in keeping the business automation plans consistent with the businesses growing needs. 

However, there is one thing you need to be aware of that is the major pitfalls of digital strategizing. These are the main reason why most of the time the process of digital transformation in B2B e-commerce and manufacturing fail. Here is a list of all the major pitfalls you might face-

I).  Not having a holistic outlook while planning transformation

II). Not paying attention to the new economic landscape digital transformation in industries has introduced.

III). Not thinking about the whole industrial ecosystem (including clients and business partners) while planning the transformation.

IV). Trying to invent new processes and models right from the get-go. 

The above-mentioned pitfalls are the digital transformation challenges that can derail your plans and make it ineffective. So while you plan, ensure that you don’t trip on these roadblocks. 

3. Right Talents Will Make All The Difference 

It is not just the tools and technology that will help with digital transformation in IT and other solutions for the company, but the people who run it. The CEO, the employees, everyone is going to be a part of the process, and they need to have the right talents for that. 

With the right talents heading the separate departments of the company towards digitized and unified future, you have a much better chance of installing IT digital transformation without any problems. This is crucial specifically for bigger organizations that have numerous departments working in sync with one another. As a CEO it will be quite impossible to oversee the business automation process throughout the organization. And that’s why you will need to install digital leaders as department heads.

While looking for talents that will help you to lead the company towards a digital future, you need to ensure that they possess the necessary skills for digital leadership. Without these skills, the individuals will not be able to understand the process, nor the needs of the business. Causing the digital transformation to fail at the end of the day. 

4. You’ll Need A Digitally Charged Atmosphere

Despite whatever steps you have taken, if you are not able to nurture a digital atmosphere in your organization, your attempt at end-to-end digital transformation will fail. 

During the transition, you need to understand that the business and digital solutions being integrated within the system are not separate. Neither are they separate layers of functionalities that support each other. The process and solutions are intertwined and not having a digital mindset/atmosphere at the organization will cause the digital side to wither and die quickly. 

It’s a lot like every employee having their own work email ID, and yet using post-it notes to communicate. It is not only diminishing the benefits of email tech but also slows down the communication process.  And that’s why in order to make the digital transformation in FinTech and other industries effective, you have to sow the seed of ’digital first’ thinking within the organization.

5. Focus On The Future, Not Just Now

Whether you are buying groceries or planning business automation, focusing on the future is key to success. And that’s why most digital transformation companies are focusing on the future while making digital solutions and plans.

If you are making a plan for digitizing business processes, chances are, you are thinking about the situation right now, with people inside their homes, and slowing down the economy. And the measurements that you are taking right now will assist in fighting the current situation. But what happens when the situation improves or maybe worsens?

Business decisions and the digital measures you are taking need to be focused in the future. This way while helping the company survive in the present, owners can plan for it to thrive in the future as well. Ensure to discuss the plans with digital transformation consulting agencies.

Pro tip: In the Midst of digitalizing your entire system, don’t forget the value of a good website. A well-developed website will go a long way to help you with your digitalization efforts.

6. Communication Will Be Crucial

If there is one issue with business automation then it is the problem the employees might face while trying to work with the new system. 

It is actually a very basic and obvious problem business owners are bound to face during transformation. Workers would not be able to understand the features of the new system or how to work it in one day. And in such a scenario there needs to be an open channel of communication between the staff and the management. 

Digital transformation is not only integrating technology but also encouraging and helping the employees to work with those technologies and make the best out of it. And the staff needs to have a better communication channel to talk to the higher authorities. So talk to the digital transformation agency you have hired and integrate an open channel for communication on your business system. 

Digital Disruption In The Future: What Is Going To Change?

We have talked about how you can automate the business. Now all that remains to answer is the question asked in the very beginning- “will digital transformation become the answer to all the industry questions in the future?”

It might, or it might not, the only way we can determine the answer to that is through examining the future changes digitization in industries will bring. 

1. Flexible processes will enrich businesses

This goes without saying- building a flexible digital platform will make industries work a lot efficiently. With unified systems, organizations will have a better inter-departmental channel of information that will help them to work in perfect synchronization. This streamlined workflow will be easier to handle and optimize based on the changing priorities of the business and the market.

2. Businesses And Customers Will Be On Better Terms

With a data-first robust digitization program, businesses would be able to access more data on the consumers, therefore gaining better insight on them, what they need and what they want from the organization. 

This detailed insight will help the organizations to optimize their approach and eventually build a proper relationship with the clients. The personalized service based on data and insight will give the business a proper boost in the right direction. 

3. Redundant Tasks Will Be A Thing Of Past

Workflow automation is a concept well cherished right now. But in the future, it is going to be one of the main effects of digital disruption. 

Even now when the workflow automation is at its best, there are plenty of redundant tasks the employees have to perform before they can actually finish the main task. Needless to say, this increases the time and reduces the efficiency with which they could finish the task. But with the proper automation of business processes in the future, you can expect the workflow to improve. This will completely eradicate the redundant tasks, making the flow of work smooth and hassle-free. And thanks to this, we might even see a rise in government digital transformation efforts.

4. Speed To Market Will Increase Tenfold

Agile development methodology, workflow automation, and digitally transformed production will improve the speed with which the industries will take the product to the market. Not only that but clients and consumers too will be able to provide quick reviews about those products, through the digital solution. This means that both the production phase and updating the products will become a much faster process. 

5. A Broader Scope For Growth Will Be Unlocked

Well-integrated b2b digital transformation solutions will enable businesses to keep up with the current business trends as well as plan out future growth. When an organization goes through the transformation process it will get more chances of developing its business and capitalize on various market trends. With digital solutions onboard these chances of development will become many, eventually leading to better business performance and growth.  

6. Workforce Will Feel More Empowered

Integrating end-to-end digital transformation within the organization will not only help it to perform better, but it will eventually make the staff better at their job. When staff members don’t have to perform a hundred redundant tasks to get one job done, they will start to perform better. It will improve performance and the quality of life. Being able to work from anywhere will help the staff to perform well and save time. 

So yes, in the future, no matter what kind of business or industry-related questions are raised, the answer is going to be business automation. Whether it is about the flexibility or growth of the business or customer relationship, it might be the only savior for businesses in a post-COVID-19 scenario.

Wrapping up: Digital transformation will be the only answer in the future

Considering every other aspect of business and market scenario right now, there’s no doubt that digitization is going to be the ultimate savior of businesses after the pandemic. And if you are still wondering whether the business needs the tech solutions then the answer is yes, it does. In the coming future, users are going to look for services with automated solutions up their sleeves. And that’s why you can not fall behind now

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About Pratip Biswas

Pratip Biswas is the Founder and CEO of Unified Infotech, a New York-based web design company that has been featured in Deloitte Fast 500 | Fastest growing tech companies in 2018. His company is working with Enterprises, SMB’s and Start-ups to improve their efficiency through Digital Adoption and help them discover new possibilities through constant innovations. Pratip also writes regularly on Blockchain technology and has been published in publications like "Yourstory", "Dzone" etc.