As the global epidemic has taken a grip of every facet of life, what has been its effect on business and has Digital Transformation gone into hyperdrive?
In early March this year, it is fair to say that the pace of change was fast but steady, certainly for digital. Then of course, a previously unknown virus became the world’s best known celebrity and words such as “unprecedented” and “new norm” became the de facto terms of any conversation about the epidemic and its effects. Incidentally, “unprecedented” hit a sharp peak according to Google keyword trends between 22-28 March, whereas “new norm” took some time to reach its peak at the end of May but continues to stay on trend!
The COVID-19 pandemic swept - and still is sweeping - throughout the world at an alarming rate creating enormous headaches for businesses of all kinds, from those that had been previously resistant to change, to those who have had to adapt and alter their business models to take advantage of the different circumstances. Whilst there have been many business casualties losing the COVID battle, others have benefitted from an unlikely windfall. Sales of frozen meals dived as home baking went on a charge and as lockdown eased, bike purchases and DIY sales soared. With vast numbers of workers on furlough, and with time to kill, streaming platforms such as Netflix and Disney+ (what a time to launch!) saw major increases in subscriptions. And they weren’t the only ones. As people wanted quality, reliable information sources, trustworthy media organisations globally have seen a welcome increase in readers paying for content.
So what of digital transformation? The phrase was first coined in September 2013 so it is nothing new. And it can mean different things to different organisations but is generally broken up into 4 categories; strategy, policies, process and technology.
The Lockdown has certainly magnified every aspect of these, as customer journeys migrated from the physical to entirely digital ones, where operational work went remote for the first time for many companies and new, green shoots of revenue streams and business models sprouted in seemingly unfertile ground. Indisputably, the months of lockdown have seen digital transformation go into overdrive or what might be termed as accelerated digital transformation. Putting jargon to the side for one minute, for business it has been a case of “get digital or perish!” Quoted by CityAM, Martin Sorrell, the CEO of global advertising business S4 was advising companies,
“If you have historic costs to write off, get it out of the way now and accelerate your digital transformation.”
The speed at which companies have been forced to adapt and change has been nothing short of remarkable as evidenced by Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, who said,
“We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and learning, to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security.”
Digital transformation, or accelerated digital transformation can seem overwhelming however it doesn’t have to be a huge, intimidating piece of work that organisations have to fear. For most companies, it is an incremental process that is organic and can be tactical. For example, in the past few months, we have successfully helped news organisations with a strategic, tactical home delivery platform, delivermynewspaper that allows consumers to sign-up for free delivery of their favourite newspaper via a bespoke digital platform. A vital service when leaving the home was highly constrained.
Tactical efforts like these, that leverage technology are increasing. Sometimes they use products out there that already exist, sometimes they require bespoke development. Aside from the acceleration of change digitally, one thing the pandemic has also done is increase the value of digital development, not just in how it can create a positive effect on organisations and consumers, but the value of quality custom digital development - which for an agency like us is a lifeblood.