Change has become imperative with the breakout of the pandemic, which has forced organizations to optimize operation and cost, leading them to rethink their digital transformation strategies. In fact, the pandemic has increased their budgets for digital transformation while breaking down previous inhibitors such as executive approval, legacy software, and the absence of clear strategies. Guided by the broader business strategy, organizations are fast turning to digital technologies to scale up or solve pressing business issues. And the role of technology is not just limited to merely driving marginal efficiency but rather is that of a catalyst which drives innovation and disruption.
On the road to Recovery
It would not be wrong to state that with the onset of the pandemic, digital transformation itself has been disrupted, owing to immediate actions required for crisis and change management. The present nature of the crisis has required teams to act promptly amidst uncertainty and take quick decisions with limited oversight. It has required them to react to fast-changing situations. Here digital transformation can help in a shift to agile decision-making enabling a transformation agenda and helping organizations to move forward despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
While most organizations have come to terms with the new normal, they want to move forward despite the aftermath. This has led them to brainstorm on new ways to operate in these unusual times. But, at the same time neither do they have a playbook for this nor can they refer to proven case studies. Hence, they have to closely monitor their environment for change and test existing business practices and workflows to identify how digitalization would first help fuel stability, and then growth. They have realized that digitalization is the only way forward which will help address the changing business needs and empower them to make a shift from the “Respond” to the “Recovery” phase during the pandemic. This “Recovery” phase would further determine how well they would thrive in the near future.
The valuable role of AI
In this environment, technology has clearly emerged as a winner. Post COVID-19, consumer behavior will not return to the pre-COVID norms that easily. Online purchases will increase and remote work models are here to stay. As the economies slowly start to reopen, artificial intelligence (AI) will play a needle-moving role in helping companies adapt to the current crisis. As they focus on business continuity plans a majority of companies are likely to deploy AI-enabled solutions to drive topline growth. With its unparalleled potential to discover emerging trends, AI can help hyper-personalize products and solutions, thereby improving customer engagement and sales. It can also contribute to the ideation process of creating new products and accelerate R&D initiatives. As the value creation mechanisms change fast, AI can prove crucial in enabling companies to seize the new opportunities which come their way.
Furthermore, recent findings from Gartner revealed that 74% of companies 1 plan a shift to remote work models post COVID-19. AI-based solutions free up the workforce from repetitive and mundane tasks, allowing them the time to invest in more creative work. During virtual meetings, AI tools increase collaboration and can automatically capture and present additional information such as web links, documents, and videos which not only save time and increase productivity but help employees become more productive. Often, we spend a lot of time scheduling meetings and in finding a suitable time for all attendees. Instead, one can easily use a bot which schedules meetings automatically based on the calendars of invitees, checking for their availability, role and expertise, deciding whether they need to be invited at all.
Tapping into the IoT potential
Besides the trends discussed above, disruptions caused by COVID-19 have reminded us how critical a working supply chain is. According to a recent survey, 75% of organizations in a selected sample experienced supply chain disruptions among which 39% reported severe impacts. This indicates that organizations must adopt a new strategy and here Internet of Things (IoT) could inspire relevant solutions. IoT-based solutions allow for supply chain diversification and real-time monitoring. Through virtualization, they help in creating digital twin models enabling virtual exploration of suppliers and accurate risk assessment.
It has been predicted that with the impact of the pandemic, the IoT market size will grow from USD 150 billion in 2019 to USD 243 billion by 2021 2 , at a CAGR of 13.7%. The critical factors behind this trend also include remote monitoring needs during work from home initiatives, smart payment technologies with minimized human contact, and the increasing demand for wearables.
Rethinking customer experience
Along with rapid transformation to the digital world, leaders also need to focus on successful customer experiences (CX). The way they communicate is becoming increasingly important as most consumers have cut down on spending and are trying products and services mostly out of necessity. Hence, customer experiences need to be frictionless, simple, and personalized. The real focus is on building trust on the foundations of empathy, which makes organizations a trusted advisor in the customer journey. In a recent study, 71% of the respondents 3 agreed that if a brand puts profit over people, they will not be able to trust the brand. Hence, establishing an emotional connection with customers becomes important. Amid this black swan event, both digitalization and CX need to move in tandem for a competitive and cost advantage.
With the pandemic’s severe impact, companies’ resilience is being tested like never before. As the business landscape shifts towards uncertainty and volatility, organizations have to develop new capabilities and prioritize strategic initiatives where digital transformation will have a critical role to play. As they reimagine business for an ever-changing future—digital technologies, innovation, and CX will remain integral constituents of business continuity plans.