For the past two decades, business enterprises have been gradually transforming themselves with digital technologies to adapt to new realities of the Internet and mobile, integrating their solutions with regulatory entities. We often heard businesses of all sizes discussing their digital transformation projects and roadmaps that could be anywhere from a year to ten years. Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, accelerating the need for enterprises to transform and respond to an unprecedented change in customer behavior and market environment.
Digital transformation roadmaps spanning several years got compressed into weeks to respond to the realities of remote working and contactless operations. Businesses in every industry have had to figure out how to reach their customers – be it shoppers, patients, students, businesses or employees – almost overnight. Remote contact centers have been set up to help employees work from home, and enterprises have delivered mass notifications and set up hotlines to help deliver information.
Rapid digitization has thus become a key enabler of the required change. As a different world takes shape, longer term strategies and digital portfolios need to be re-assessed and re-prioritized. Enterprises need to accelerate their digital transformation to remain relevant and capture opportunities or risk their existence.
Shifting digital transformation into a higher gear
Security posture revision
CISOs will now focus on securing a remote workforce while protecting their assets. They will need to be able to check remote assets, access and paths from remote workers and their home networks all the way down to corporate data centers and cloud services. Silos that existed within companies are going to become smaller and more numerous. And it’s not just their own employees they have to scan; but anyone sharing that home network as a potential risk.
Analytics for competitive advantage
The pandemic has made the need for big data and analytics even greater. As businesses are in re-opening phases, data and analytics are helping with contact tracing and other decisions that will help bring employees back to work safely.
Supply chains across the globe have been impacted by the virus. Blockchain has the potential to fix damaged supply chains by processing and verifying transactions quickly. Development made now could be the perfect catalyst for making blockchain a necessary technology moving forward.
Agility and scalability of systems
Enterprises have realized that they need to build platforms that offer functionality at scale. Since there is no certainty whether the world will go back to what it was, they are looking at building out platforms over time and are rethinking the scope of projects already underway. Deploying systems that are highly flexible and scalable and extending the functionality of existing systems has become essential.
The downsides for companies slow to act
Corporate networks are grappling with having majority of their connections coming in over virtual private networks, while ISPs are now under pressure to lift bandwidth caps so that working remotely continues uninterrupted. They have been more vulnerable to the pandemic-forced changes and found themselves struggling to support long-distance coordination and high work efficiency. Meanwhile, businesses that were ahead in their digital transformation efforts are reaping the benefits because they already had experiences, capabilities, processes, and systems to rapidly shift to more digital and remote ways of working, learning, and collaborating.
Surge in use of online collaboration tools
Businesses have burnt the midnight oil to identify, evaluate and build the right mix of online collaboration tools for both employees and partners to be able to work remotely. Systems that have video conferencing, file sharing and chat capabilities are being widely implemented now, as are tools that deal with poor network connectivity in home networks. These products are continuously providing enhancements to keep their clients. More integrated solutions seem to be favorite amongst CIOs.
Sales channels strategy revamp
Lockdown and social distancing rules have altered the consumer buying patterns, most likely in the longer run. The online channel which had been a discretionary one for the brick-and-mortar brands until now is rapidly becoming a mandatory channel, and one that will require a well-crafted digital strategy and investments. Home delivery options are expanding to many industries every day.
Business continuity strategies
With COVID-19 making it very difficult for businesses to maintain status-quo, the focus has shifted to minimizing business continuity plans (BCP) as every day work became BCP. Businesses are looking at driving efforts towards projects and initiatives that are essential to keeping the business running in a vastly different operational model. They want to ensure they can overcome day-to-day risks across infrastructure, cyber, employees, business, operations, and communications.
The pandemic is a wake-up call for enterprises that have historically placed too much focus on daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital business and long-term resilience. It’s going to be hard to navigate the economic challenges which lie ahead and enterprises will need to press pause on expensive, riskier long running innovations in place of technology which will transform, increase productivity, and maintain a competitive edge. Businesses that can shift technology capacity and investments to digital platforms will mitigate the impact of the outbreak and keep their companies running more smoothly now, and over the long term.
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