How Digital Transformation is Helping Traditional Businesses to Overcome Covid-19

Digital Transformation for Businesses

COVID hit us unprepared when we least expected anything like it. It forced governments to put their entire populations into forced lockdown to remedy the threat of the fast-spreading virus. Such a lockdown brought the entire economy to a screeching halt and brought companies to their knees because of the unprecedented nature of the situation. Slowly but surely as we unlock phase by phase, companies are getting back to business in the “new normal”.

COVID 19 is a wake-up call for many traditional companies who dragged their feet when it came to digital transformation. We are still far from an end to COVID and the economy is not running full steam. Fortunately, all clouds come with a silver lining and in the case of COVID, it has brought in the realization among companies that a COVID-like situation is repeatable and being prepared is the best approach ahead.

This thinking is finding resonance in traditional companies where the COVID situation is likely to play a catalyst role in accelerating digital transformation. 

What is Digital Transformation?

Before we embark on to the main topic, let’s just understand what digital transformation is and what it is not. This is the incorporation or adoption of new, fast and frequently changing digital technology into the existing processes that are non-digital or done manually. It changes the manner in which companies operate and deliver value to their customers. Plus, it calls for a rethinking of old models, encourages experimentation and improves agility in responding to customers and stakeholders alike.

How Digital Transformation is Helping Companies Overcome COVID-19

Now that we understand what exactly is digital transformation, let’s focus on reasons how companies are compelled to adopt digital transformation as a way to go about during this COVID induced “new normal”. Today, companies are re-thinking and foregoing the “business as usual” approach. To put in context, the survivability of the business makes it even more imperative for companies to embrace technology in these challenging times.

Here is a look at specific reasons promoting digital transformation:

  • Future of the Workspace: Everyone today believes that the possibility of going back to pre-COVID normal is quite slim and we would have to imagine a shared future with the COVID virus. This has forced companies to re-imagine approach towards work, mobility and flexible working models. We are going to see acceleration towards alternative work delivery models and most of them will involve digital technology adoption.
  • Avoiding Business Interruptions: Businesses in all sectors have realized that COVID type disruption can be a future possibility and incorporating digital platforms is seen as the feasible approach in facing a COVID like situation and continue their services in an uninterrupted manner. Moreover, hurdles related to internal resistance to technology adoption are getting nullified as a pandemic situation has created economic uncertainty that is altering old entrenched habits in people.
  • Improving Employee Collaboration: Remote work has become an essential component for companies to continue their services. In such a scenario, companies have started with novel digital tools that help employees connect with each other seamlessly to improve collaboration and morale. Such steps are seen as incremental improvements that are bringing companies closer to major technology implementation scenarios.
  • Altered Sales Patterns: COVID has brought along new manners such as social distancing to the fore and many traditional retail outlets today are forced to adopt these government guidelines. This situation has significantly impacted retail sales of traditional brick-and-mortar companies and they have been compelled towards an omnichannel approach with an active online presence for driving sales. Traditional companies that never considered technology an ally are getting a reality check with this pandemic!
  • Automation in Manufacturing: During the lockdown, manufacturing was severely hit on account of closures and subsequently were allowed to function with a reduced workforce. This has made manufacturing companies to seriously consider increased automation as a feasible option and with some even pitching for “Dark Factories”, wherein there would be minimum human presence and a large part of the functioning will be governed by automation to ensure operations continue smoothly without disruptions.

Immediate Advantages of Digital Transformation 

Companies may find it tough in going about digital transformation, considering the logistics and the effort involved. However, there are significant, visible benefits for companies which have implemented digital transformation in their premises. Traditional companies get the necessary competitive edge in the market with digital transformation:

Companies may find it tough in going about digital transformation, considering the logistics and the effort involved. However, there are significant, visible benefits for companies which have implemented digital transformation in their premises. Traditional companies get the necessary competitive edge in the market with digital transformation:

  • Data-led Decision Making: A business is always trying to cut on costs and improve revenue, with digital transformation enough data starts becoming available and businesses get transformed with data-led decision making. Data becomes the critical component for framing business strategies. In addition, it augments relevancy, real-time feedback and agility through structured (customer information) and unstructured (social media metrics) data. 
  • Transforms Customer Experience: Customers expect ‘solutions’ to their problems through product or service in a timely manner. With digital transformation and the incorporation of the latest in technology, a company serves its customer better through improved sensitivity towards customer concerns through seamless workflow. A company through digital transformation gets the consideration as an authority in the industry and earns the trust and respect of their customers.
  • Encourages Collaboration: Communication is one of the primary drivers that improve efficiency in an organization. With incorporation of technology, a company is benefited with the smooth flow of information across departments. A healthy culture of collaboration is seen with the easy availability of critical information across departments.  The organization is turned into a unified workforce with common goals.   
  • Improves Skills & Knowledge: By adopting digital transformation a company no longer chooses to remain in the past and faces the future with confidence. With the technology landscape changing fast and with emerging technologies becoming relevant with every passing day. Digital transformation compels employees to embrace change to develop their skills and knowledge required for a fast approaching future. This makes the organization not only competitive but future-ready to take on any business challenge.
  • Increased Flexibility & Scalability: One of the major disadvantages of old legacy systems is that it requires manual operation which becomes extremely restrictive in situations where there is a spike in the workload. With digital transformation improved flexibility becomes the norm for the functioning of the organization. Modern software is often easier to integrate with various parts of a business, this makes the workflow more automatically streamlined without the need for manual intervention making scalability a visible reality.

Conclusion

COVID has created an unprecedented situation and has tested the resilience of traditional companies. They have realized that in order to ensure business continuity they would have to forego established practices and embrace new modes of working. This has precipitated in the accelerated adoption of digital technology as a foremost priority. Interestingly, it has allowed businesses to realign their existing business models for a future where functioning digitally would be the norm for success not an option. As the saying goes, every crisis comes with a built-in opportunity – perfectly suits the context.    

About the Author:

Mr. Nikhil Agarwal, Retail & E-commerce Expert at MSMEx, Co-founder at Your Retail Coach.

Nikhil comes with the necessary expertise to enable organizations to make that leap into digital transformation. He understand the immediate needs that come along with the ‘new normal’ associated with COVID that makes organizations eager for such a change. Nikhil has been instrumental at providing advisory, consultation, and implementation services to organizations in India and across the globe.

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