Among its myriad impacts, COVID-19 has seen many businesses take giant strides towards digitalisation. From retail stores to schools, banks to healthcare providers, the pandemic has transformed how we conduct business around the world. In many cases, this has meant accelerating plans that were already underway. For others, digitalisation has involved a mad scramble to deploy innovative new service and revenue models.
Eighteen months on from COVID-19’s arrival, new research is shedding light on the extent of COVID-fuelled digitalisation. In light of this, we’ve taken a look at some of the latest intelligence from Australia and around the world and offer several practical tips to help your digital strategy keep pace.
A Look at the Numbers
- A 2020/21 study by Equinix revealed that 57% of businesses have rearchitected their infrastructure to meet new demands.
- In 2020 research by KPMG, 67% of respondents accelerated their digital transformation strategy due to COVID-19. Of these respondents, 63% also reported an increase in digital budget allocation.
- The KPMG report also found that 76% of customers expect the companies they deal with to provide e-commerce services.
- In a 2020 customer study by Workday, when asked to identify the most important changes organisations need to make to be resilient in a future crisis, the top three responses related to digital transformation. (Accelerate digital growth 32%, increase investment in tech to augment workforce 30% and invest in more cloud technology 27%).
Why Digital Transformation is Key Beyond COVID-19
With online reliance reaching stratospheric proportions, it is encouraging to see so many companies have risen to the challenge. However, one thing we know for certain is that consumer needs will continue to evolve and be influenced by a range of online and offline factors.
As we move through the continued aftershocks of the pandemic and beyond, there are several things to remember.
1. Digital Strategies Are a Living, Breathing Thing
Building flexible digital strategies capable of adapting to different eventualities is essential. Whether your transformation was the result of careful planning and execution, or a hastened deployment in response to the pandemic, sustainability is key.
One way to ensure the longevity of your digital journey is to make it elastic. From having the technological capacity to easily scale services up or down, to making funds available for further investments in infrastructure or talent, a flexible strategy will help you duck and weave through changing circumstances.
The extent to which you have executive buy-in also plays a role here. Positively, a 2021 report by IBM found that executive priorities have shifted during the crisis, with 86% of Australian executives stating that customer experience management would be a high priority over the next two years, compared to only 35% in 2019.
2. Your Ability to Measure & Interpret Data Plays a Key Role
The degree to which consumers are satisfied with any COVID-19-driven behaviours or practices will play a role in their ongoing adoption, as will your ability to successfully attribute any positive results to your digital efforts.
Having the correct data mechanics in place is vitally important, along with data governance and security. (The KPMG study found that 55% of consumers want data safety to be the number one priority of companies they deal with, proving that cyber security and data protection are forefront in consumer’s minds).
Working with a digital business transformation partner to set up proper data capture, analysis and governance is a good way to ensure maximum return on your digital investment.
3. Don’t Expect Recovery to be a Straight Line
As our social and professional interactions return to a new kind of normal, there is the potential for some habits to revert or reduce as people actively seek the connection and freedom of in-person experiences again.
For example, spending in areas like bricks-and-mortar retail, travel and entertainment will surely spike as people become comfortable with shared public spaces and crowds again. However, the convenience and productivity gains resultant from online shopping and remote working should see these changes continue.
To Wrap Up
While there’s no doubt COVID-19 was a curveball no one saw coming, the current travel restrictions and lockdowns won’t be around forever.
Businesses who incorporate flexibility into their digital transformation strategies and work with the right partners to set up proper data mechanics and security will be better equipped to deal with a range of outcomes and avoid the pitfalls that can arise.
To discuss your strategy or have your digital transformation questions answered, talk to us.