The Covid-19 crisis has brought into sharp focus the critical importance that digital connectivity holds in daily life. As countries went into extended lockdown periods, digital infrastructure proved crucial in mitigating the impact of movement restrictions imposed. As connectivity players took short-term actions to ensure continued digital access during the crisis, their investments in cloud infrastructure over the past two decades helped promote mobile technology. This, in turn, enabled the continuation of key digital activities such as remote work, education, healthcare, and further boosted the growth of new sectors like e-commerce.
During the coronavirus crisis, digital transformation took on a whole new meaning. Companies have leveraged technology to future-proof their operations and workforce, as well as ensure smooth transition to remote work. IT is currently at the heart of every organisation’s resilience imperative, and is not only helping companies run faster and better, but even transforming them. Technology is also enhancing customer and employee experience.
Digitization, Automation & Security in the New Normal
As the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, digital transformation became the accelerant that caused companies to rethink their old business models, customer experiences and the workplace setup. With businesses moving towards a digitized and automated future, managers found themselves facilitating the shift of enterprise applications to the cloud. The assistance of multiple public cloud and SaaS companies made it possible for employees to work smoothly from their home offices. Companies, hence, found themselves in a complex cloud-based environment where security became the cornerstone for infrastructure resources & access to various cloud applications. Hence, technology and analytics emerged as the key to weathering the repercussions of Covid-19 and emerging stronger.
The sudden economic shift from physical to digital led companies to use digital tools like data analytics and AI to strengthen business resilience, customer relationships and technology systems. The lockdown boosted online shopping as many people made their first digital purchases. Besides, app-based food & grocery delivery services witnessed unprecedented surge in demand. Ride-hailing companies and taxi aggregators also pivoted their drivers to deliver essentials to people’s doorstep.
Beyond the adverse ramifications of the crisis, there have still been some positive shifts which are here to stay as Covid-19 is accelerating the digital future. Thus, for many businesses, the key components of the ‘new normal’ are digitization, automation and security. With these, organisations in all sectors, from banking to retail to healthcare to manufacturing, need added flexibility and agility to scale swiftly and handle business continuation.
How Digital is Helping Improve Business Functions
Companies stand to benefit from technologies that maximise transparency and responsiveness, and provide real-time data to empower effective decision making. For instance, using digital tools for closely tracking customer behaviours and sentiments, make supply chains transparent and more responsive, and adopt trigger- and scenario-based planning methods. These tech tools have the potential to help companies outlast pandemic and make them capable enough to accelerate out of it.
Given the current scenario, businesses must set aside conventional demand forecasts, which are not accurate now for the changes occurring all around. These need to be replaced with scenario-planning techniques which are data-driven and sophisticated. At the same time, human judgment will continue to be essential, especially when companies use machine learning models which heavily rely on outdated demand patterns. Big firms use data sets to build actionable plans for a broad range of outcomes. This will, in turn, help companies adapt and adjust to the uncertainty looming due to Covid-19 and the complex & diversified reactions of customers, governments and competitors.
As people were isolated in their homes, digital experiences became even more important. Companies identify the ones that matter most and bring great results so as to improve upon them further to create new and long-lasting customer relationships. In other words, companies must follow their customers during the crisis and then lead them out of it. And for this, there is a need to understand the massive shift to digital marketing, online communication and sales channels, across various industries like retail, banking, insurance and healthcare.
Managers are making rapid improvements in their digital channels by eliminating bottlenecks and giving priority to important customer episodes like late payments, cancellations and technical glitches in online services. Data underpins all these and effectively using it is helping companies gather useful customer insights and feedback. With the help of this, they can go on to test ideas, learn what works and what doesn’t and forge stronger bonds with their customers.
Many companies are also accelerating automation efforts during the ongoing crisis by using data to identify critical areas of investment and where costs can be potentially saved. In such times, it’s imperative to focus on those processes which have the highest value and urgency so that automation can be quickly deployed.
At this crucial juncture, there is a need for greater emphasis on public-private cooperation to advance the agenda for digital inclusion amidst the ‘new normal’. The one-size-fits-all approach is bound to prove futile here. Hence, digital connectivity and development should be the top priority within nations and across global forums.