Over recent weeks, the drastic development of the coronavirus epidemic has made us all aware that one can never be too prepared or too well protected. With shelter-in-place orders meaning that an unprecedented number of people have been forced to stay at home, technologies that have so far just made our lives a little easier have suddenly become crucial to maintaining the continuity of processes and digital transformation has proved to be the best strategy.
For individuals, this means remote work (thanks to well-adapted tools), online shopping or access to streaming services. However, for businesses, transferring analog processes to technological infrastructure is now often an essential element of maintaining continuity in order to avoid long-term exclusion from the market.
Until recently, owners and managers could ask the question: “Why do I need digital transformation?”. The COVID-19 crisis has emphatically ended any doubt companies may have.
Digitalization helps companies and organizations automate processes which were previously carried out manually, act more efficiently and in crisis situations, and have a technology platform that is ready for innovations. It also now becomes an important strategic element for business because:
- The availability of online resources means that they can be managed from anywhere, which enables remote work
- Digitized processes increase work efficiency, allow for better analytics, and enable a faster response to changes
- Greater process efficiency facilitates the flow, transfer, and archiving of data and also enables advanced analytics
- No limit on space allows companies to reach more customers and take operations global, which better protects business
- Increased IT safety is vital at all times, not just in a crisis situation.
Technology helps with new challenges
Now in a changing world, we can observe digital transformations on a mass scale and in all branches of business, public institutions, and lifestyle services. Here are just a few examples of digital transformations and technological innovations that have appeared in a short time, in response to the crisis.
- Almost everyone in the world has seen this on a screen somewhere in recent days. Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). The map visualizes the current number of cases worldwide and has been used in the media and TV news since February. It allows us to track the course of the epidemic and, in the future, will certainly serve as an analytical tool.
- Online services did not appear with the outbreak of the COVID-19, but we are currently observing a huge increase in their importance: trade, catering services, training, and broader lifestyle services are moving online. What was once additional services have become a key element in the survival strategy of many businesses.
- State and local governments are also reaching for technology in the fight against coronavirus. For example, creating special services devoted to epidemics, supporting companies by creating job and service exchanges, and launching chatbots that provide residents with necessary information.
- In Poland, the government has created its own application for quarantine. It uses geolocation to check whether people who are banned from leaving the house are actually in place. This is to improve the work of the police, whose duties include checking if quarantine orders are being observed. The application also has help in finding help and be supplemented with new functionalities.
- Due to the necessity of closing schools, tools for conducting online lessons have become vital. Many private schools and vocational courses have also transferred their lessons to the network.
- Companies are still recruiting remotely, which represents a huge opportunity for remote recruitment technologies. There are tools available on the market that use AI during the scan of the candidate’s face, such as Neurolytics. However, many companies have already used remote recruitment tools using short video recordings on which the candidates made presentations. Many recruitment processes are also carried out by popular messengers such as Skype or Hangouts.
- Touch-free technologies have gained new value. Touch-free was designed for greater convenience and speed of processes such as blik but has now acquired new purpose and meaning as it slows the potential spread of the virus by minimizing touchpoints.
- Companies specializing in VR are already observing greater interest in their product range. The future also looks positive for AR, which allows the display of products and services without the need for physical contact.
- Online marketplaces and exchanges have been created for work, services, and mutual help. Both between individuals and between companies and NGOs, where companies can offer assistance in accordance with the resources at their disposal. Exchanges allow companies to move resources and people to places where they are most needed, e.g. one company needs to slow down the work of a few people while another needs to hire new employees. Temporary or long-term exchanges allow companies to maintain business continuity, and to ensure employment stability.
- The development of online delivery is a natural consequence of the current crisis. Supermarkets offering online ordering currently lack free delivery times, and courier service providers meet the needs of customers. It also changes the way services are provided, and those in which interpersonal contact is kept to a minimum are most desirable.
- Telemedicine has so far developed very well in the form of equipment such as Pregnabit, today it is becoming a practice in the form of medical consultations online, by phone and through video chats. This type of service also has great potential in the long term, when the epidemic is over, especially for aging Western societies.
- The closure of public space has increased interest in streaming and gaming services. The most popular, Netflix, has reduced quality in Europe to maintain stability and not overload the network.
- The gaming industry will profit because people cut off from the outside world spend more time using online entertainment
Until now, we have considered Digital Transformation as saving time and money. It is now becoming clear that, especially in crisis situations, digitization is a strategic point in securing business continuity.
Companies that implement modern technologies in business today are in a strategically better position than competitors who have not evolved and must quickly make up for the lack of digital solutions.
Now is a good moment to verify the direction in which companies we are going and assess its validity. How does a business confirm if digital transformation is essential? It is easiest to verify by:
- Customer needs – this is the most important element of our business process and, depending on the scale, we can ask them personally or do it through a survey. The most important thing is to listen to their actual needs and not just create solutions that will make them happy but not bring long-term value.
- Our own experience – we know that some needs are clarified only during the activities themselves. We understand our own domain and can see what is missing and what we can improve.
- Listening carefully to the voice of employees – they are on the front line, they can always more easily assess what slows down their work and where improvements might be made.
We also suggest asking questions such as:
- How can our business model be adjusted to the current situation balancing existing solutions with innovative technology that is possible to introduce at speed?
- What are the main blockers to conducting our operations, and which areas are the most important now?
- What can we do to better fit to the new reality, increase efficiency, or make it better prepared for the future?
If you are in doubt and are thinking about the best solution for your company, let us know. We offer a free-of-charge consultancy session that can help you uncover the digital potential for your business.