On November 17, 2019, Wuhan, China, confirmed the first case of COVID-19. Six months later, the pandemic has disrupted global economies and forced the world into lockdown. From a consumer perspective, not being tech-savvy is no longer an option. Individuals now rely on technology not just to order groceries and pay bills, but to complete education and conduct work remotely. Businesses, too, have been thrust into technology adoption. The word “pivot” has become the new buzzword, as enterprises frantically adopt agile ways of working to ensure business continuity. Companies that were once anticipating cloud adoption or digital transformation programs have become eager (and perhaps forced) to fast-track their technology investments to survive the pandemic.
This rapid technology embrace will give “business transformation” a new meaning in the future, and along with change management, transformation will be high on most corporate agendas. The pandemic has forced not only a shift in remote-work policies and workplace hygiene, but an evolution in digital collaboration, crisis-management tools and business-continuity strategies. Without coherent digitized ecosystems, businesses will fail to navigate these uncharted waters and survive. Large and small businesses alike must remain agile, adopt new ways of working, and respond to disruptive market conditions to remain competitive in this “new normal.”
As businesses become more reliant on digital capabilities, there will be an increase in transformation efforts and attempts to manage change across integrated business solutions. Contactless payments, automation and virtual assistants will shape and standardize new consumer behaviors, in turn making it easier for companies to fine-tune their digital strategies. As governments follow suit, a new wave of innovation will emerge across industries, opening new channels of business and further stress-testing business resilience.
One silver lining in all of this will be a surge of organisations that understand how smart-technology platforms and digital-transformation solutions can help bullet-proof business models and operations in the face of a global crisis. Building resilience requires intelligent decision making, collaboration, and setting strategies that plan for the unexpected. Technology will play a role in each of these areas.
The post-COVID-19 world will also question its reliance on human interaction, hastening enterprises’ embrace of automation and AI. Meanwhile, new trends will emerge for workplace hygiene, and health and wellness will become a priority rather than just a bonus or additional perk.
These changes will impact all sectors, though each industry will feel them differently. Retail will focus on ensuring it’s not fully reliant on footfall into physical locations, with increased attention to launching new online stores, refining their existing eStorefronts, and developing a well-mapped customer journey across their ecommerce sites. Back-end processes that have been overwhelmed by pandemic-related obstacles will be under particular pressure, with a focus on automation and supply-chain optimization.
In the Healthcare sector, providers are only now beginning to deal with non-urgent patient needs through telemedicine, so expect their transformation to accelerate as governments insist on technology-enabled remote appointments. There is still a long way to go to manage the procurement processes for this, so digitization and intelligent business-model redesigns will be relied upon to address the challenge.
Many regional banking institutes still lag in their adoption of cloud-based infrastructure, in many cases due to security concerns. The pandemic has now driven this to the top of their agenda, making it a priority to ensure business continuity and resilience in a time of crisis.
Across industries, organisations are now realizing how possible (and in fact easy) it is for employees to work and remain productive remotely. Long gone are stigmas about productivity, as long as employees are equipped with the right tools, a stable internet connection and a communication line. As a result, office managers around the world will invest further in laptops and remote-work resources, with an additional silver being the reduced carbon footprint of a workforce that works from home rather than commuting into an office.
In each of these scenarios, the common thread is a newfound drive to transform enterprises into more-intelligent, more-responsive and more-agile entities that are empowered to cope with changes in customer behavior and technology demands. Taking the right steps to ensure such measures are in place will involve re-engineering backend systems whilst harmonizing them with new digitized capabilities for customers, suppliers, partners and staff.