By the end of 2019, multiple reports identified the main trends for building digital innovation strategies. But then one thing happened that none of the reports could foresee: the outbreak of the Sars-Cov-2 virus, which not only infected humans, but also affected myriad businesses worldwide. All this has made 2020 the right time to stop thinking about digital innovation. It is the best time to act.
Covid-19’s impact on the economy
What started as a local slowdown in China evolved into a global lockdown. The crisis caused by Sars-Cov-2 could end up being bigger than anything in the world post-World War II. In the Eurozone from Q4 2019 to Q2 2020, GDP had fallen as much as -10% by April 2020. Each and every day we read about plants and factories being closed, business resilience being at risk, new supply chain disruptions, companies negotiating contracts and collective dismissals. As per research, it might take up to 12 months to get back to the pre-crisis state. But none of this is for certain. What we can be sure of is that it will change the way businesses operate, and that many will have to rebuild their digital innovation
Deepening of the digital divide
As per Gartner, “The value of digital channels, products and operations is immediately obvious to companies everywhere right now”. That is true – however not all business can be digitized to the same level. It may result in a deepening of the divide between businesses undergoing digital transformation and those that simply cannot fully undergo this process – and we must be aware that some industries would be affected anyway. However, plenty of businesses can be virtualized to a certain degree: healthcare, e-learning, fitness, sales, and banking. This may further result in a deepening of the digital divide between entire industries. Those that can function online will have an advantage and so should make the most of it.
Will the coronavirus boost digitization?
Sars-Cov-19 helped to define the point up to which certain companies can be virtualized. Within a couple of weeks, it turned out that the barriers holding many companies back from working from home can be moved. There are many examples of companies that have successfully and surprisingly gone digital. We can also see a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, and there will be some lessons learned for those businesses that can be virtualized to a greater extent. Here are the first visible positive effects of digitization:
- improved remote collaboration
- raised awareness of the importance of digital transformation
- Covid-19-led innovations
Digital transformation after the coronavirus – main trends
The emerging trends for 2020 turned out to be the same that could protect many businesses from the slowdown. Even if some IT projects are now being postponed, CIOs should be aware that investments in digital transformation will pay off once the pandemic is over. Here are the main trends for companies which are willing to thrive:
- Self-service and help desk solutions – including the abovementioned videoconference-based methods. The coronavirus outbreak has shown that companies need efficient solutions with minimal involvement of physical IT departments. It is the right time to invest in chatbots, IVRs, and voice recognition technologies or to take advantage of device administration tools.
- Automation – after the crisis, companies will need scalability to avoid over-investment or simply save costs. There are certain technologies which are considered highly scalable, i.e. DevOps, Robotic Process Automation, Machine Learning and AI-based solutions.
- Business resilience – as we went online, security and risk management began to matter more than ever before. Companies should invest in VPN configuration, cybersecurity, consultation services and training for staff to ensure that they are able to work in a secure environment.
- As-a-service solutions – according to the Forrester report, companies might be willing to cut their hardware expenses. This trend had even been identified prior to the coronavirus outbreak, and we can expect it to play a significant role after the pandemic. On-premises solutions seem to be a thing of the past, and cloud-first strategy including software-as-a service solutions will be one of the major trends.
- Data analysis – it will be crucial for companies to monitor the shape of the organization after the crisis. Business Intelligence solutions will play a significant role here as they support the decision-making process.
How to rebuild your digital innovation strategy?
Ask yourself the following questions to determine which areas you need improvement in:
- Which of the company’s systems can be successfully used by remote workers?
- Do I have communication tools and platforms to facilitate remote work?
- Are corporate systems and communicators secured?
- Are there policies in place to protect organizational data?
- Is there training for employees on how to function in the online environment?
- Do I have the resources / competences to implement new solutions?
Running a business calls for flexibility. The coronavirus brought a plethora of negative consequences, but also showed us that we can move digital boundaries even if the physical ones remain closed. There is no need to wait to take certain measures – from now on you can start to reshape your business, consult, and search for IT partners for the future. It is highly likely that you will need them anyway, so why not be one step ahead and one step closer to a digital uprising?