In recent weeks, various publications have argued businesses have experienced accelerated digital transformation, having to adopt and invest in new technologies to keep operating efficiently and capitalize on the opportunities emerging in the marketplace during these challenging times. Is it true that companies are successfully transforming during the pandemic and have increased their spending on high-end technology?
Covid-19 has triggered an unprecedented era of transformation. Nine months into the global pandemic, we find ourselves in the depths of an uncertain landscape that has forced families as well as businesses to take radical decisions in record time.
Adapt and Evolve
Social distancing has driven people towards new technologies. Digital natives that were already immersed in this “lifestyle”, have continued, and even heightened their involvement in technology. Individuals that had never considered socializing through streaming, remote working or buying online but were already making casual use of the technology have been able to adapt quickly. This group has learned to use and integrate this new digital world order into their day and found ways to use it as a new tool for generating income. Others have taken longer to adapt and have resisted the sweeping changes triggered by the pandemic.
Interestingly, we recognize a similar pattern in the business world. Essentially, there are four types of enterprises:
- Digital natives with fully automated processes and digital technology fully integrated into their operations.
- Organizations that were already in the process of transforming and were able to step up their time frame successfully.
- Those that were evaluating the change pre-Covid 19 and were able to implement some change in an incipient manner at different levels and speeds.
- Businesses that have not yet begun the process yet.
Even though many business owners, entrepreneurs and managers claim to have implemented sweeping digital transformation in order to adapt to change, it is highly possible that the actual numbers are significantly lower.
True digital transformation is a multidisciplinary innovation process that makes use of the best technology to automate and optimize the services required by clients, while also generating data useful to decision makers.
Most enterprises have recently dipped into the digital world while trying to fix specific tactical problems that have emerged due to the pandemic. These include the creation of web sites for e-commerce, implementing sales through existing platforms and WhatsApp, creating social media pages and launching campaigns, deploying service and sales chatbots, as well as introducing streaming tools and cybersecurity for enabling long-distance work.
This is a clear example of progress. However, true digital transformation involves the whole organization, starting with top management, leaders or founders. This process should start from a need and a clear opportunity for growth. It means rethinking the business model and leveraging technology for the benefit of customers and the business.
To achieve this, finding the right technological ally is key. A partner must understand the company and provide the knowledge, experience and technology to allow for certainty and control at all times. The evolving business must also ensure that enough resources are assigned to the development, implementation, follow up and maintenance of solutions. Finally, the designation of qualified personnel under efficient management structures is crucial to the success of the new operation.
An Uncertain Outlook
Given our current context, it is very unlikely that most businesses have achieved digital transformation due to time and money constraints. The pandemic has forced a large number of ventures to focus on issues such as implementing work-from-home models, pressing for collection, renegotiating payment plans, lowering operating costs and expenses, managing new compensation structures and finding new ways and channels of commercialization, while also caring for the health and wellbeing of their employees.
At this time, organizations are planning for the next year with an uncertain outlook, knowing each effort and dollar spent must bring a return on investment. Lowering costs, maximizing revenue and attracting the right talent will continue to be the main focus for executives. Having said this, new technologies that produce results in a short amount of time will have an opportunity to conquer the market in 2021.