Digital transformation integrates computer-based technologies that stimulate a complete assessment of a company’s products, services, processes, and strategies on both a cultural and a business level. Digital transformations are undertaken to engage better and serve a company’s customers and employees to make them more competitive and productive.
In many ways, it is the process of revolutionizing an organization’s IT department. It is about discovering new ways to connect with customers, collaborate with partners, team up with vendors and suppliers, as well as improve efficiency, deliver value, and raise revenue.
According to a Gartner business continuity survey done in March 2020, only 12 percent of organizations were highly prepared for the impact of coronavirus. “Organizations often have policies in place to deal with most risks, but they don’t activate them until it’s too late because no one is owning the risk or taking it seriously until it is fully manifested,” says Gartner.
COVID proved this true beyond a shadow of a doubt. So many companies were caught flat-footed by the pandemic and failed to have answers for even the most basic questions of how to continue business in an extremely difficult and abnormal environment. There would be a shift in adaption in digital transformation in post COVID world.
Now that the unprecedented has become the new normal, businesses accept that a remote workforce has to be supported in the near term because there was no choice but to provide remote work options, while in the long-term the “new normal” will, undoubtedly, have to include more work-from-home option.
For IT executives, keeping systems operational is the goal. While business continuity has often been thought of in terms of disaster recovery, it now refers to getting business back to normal as quickly as possible, which is far from an easy thing to accomplish.
Before COVID, many companies saw the need for a company-wide digital transformation, but the pandemic showed, without a shadow of a doubt, that the case for this evolution was a necessity. Digital transformation includes automating where possible with tools and services like AIOps, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and Hyperautomation, which can reduce the manual efforts required in normal IT processes, almost making systems self-healing.
Data can be managed properly. Data processes can also be improved through a digital transformation, making data much more trustworthy and, therefore, more useful. Administration of the data is simplified, and access to it can be doled out without the fear of data getting into the wrong hands or degrading to the point of uselessness.
Real-time streaming data can augment customer data in CRM and marketing systems, making personalization marketing much more powerful. Analytics built on top of all this structured and cleansed data becomes much more trustworthy and valuable. A digital transformation done properly makes a company’s data much more valuable and increases company productivity as well.
A company’s greatest asset is often its employees, and successful business continuity programs look at the companies people, processes, information, and systems both individually and as a whole. COVID didn’t affect the systems as much as it did the people operating those systems, and most employees were thrust into an entirely new situation, in most cases, it was something they had never seen before.
Maintaining productivity in those difficult situations was a challenge, and, thankfully, several collaboration tools helped employees achieve at least a semblance of normalcy. Softwares like Zoom, or Microsoft’s Teams, Monday.com, Slack, are extremely useful for employees to interact, coordinate, and collaborate. They extend the office digitally and virtually, while also giving an organization deep data on the behavior and productivity of its employees.
Achieving business continuity gets harder and harder the longer an organization waits to transform digitally. Unfortunately, many organizations had the intention of going digital but failed to follow through on the idea until they had no choice but to embrace it. Better late than never is good, but it often comes with a heftier price tag as the tools needed to implement the transformation become more expensive, and the consultants needed to implement those tools get scarcer and scarcer.
A digital transformation is about designing new experiences and improving a company’s business model. It builds new DNA into an organization’s culture. It allows a business to prepare for the unknown and the catastrophic, which every business now knows is a lot closer than once previously thought.
When faced with a challenge or a crisis, organizations don’t want to have to deal with outdated infrastructure and/or slow business processes. The time for replacing old and outdated systems, removing inefficiencies, and reducing vulnerabilities is long gone.
As the world charts its way out of a once-in-a-generation pandemic, businesses must decide what their future holds. Is it one that mirrors the past and remains stuck in the old, or is it a digitally transformed future that embraces the new? Is it a future that improves the company’s customer experience, as well as enhances the lives of its employees, and increases the value of its stakeholders? Only time will tell, but it might not be a long future for companies that don’t embrace the new and digitally transformed.