No matter where we turn, the pandemic is getting blamed for something. However, when it comes to the fact that Covid-19 literally forced businesses to transition a large number of their processes to the digital realm, it was actually a good thing in most cases. In this light, we can see the pandemic as a much needed catalyst for change. Amid all the suffering and losses, we can at least look forward to a brighter business future just in time for the BA-5 subvariant to cause another global surge of infections.
In the news today, a growing number of businesses are not going to wait to be shut down again. They are taking the opportunity to begin learning what the digital transformation (DX) means to them and how they can benefit from getting in on the ground floor of DX.
Leading Universities at the Forefront of Change
One of the most telling signs that a digital transformation was going to be prominent within the business landscape would be just how many leading global universities began transitioning many of their courses to distance learning. For several years prior to the pandemic, they were making it easier for serious students to get degrees without stepping foot on campus in many cases. They provided everything from counsellors to classes, registration and admissions, online. Consider for just a moment how students have been earning an MBA online in UK from globally recognised graduate schools like Aston University. These schools were years ahead of the ‘forced’ transition of the Covid era and are now a prime example of what it means to have a digital presence. Bear in mind that when all else shut down, these courses kept on going day after day, week after week.
Where Digital Transformation Is Headed
Before glancing at some of the benefits of digital transformation, let’s look at its end goal. There is a new term being bandied about which explains it very well. All these efforts to transition such things as operational processes and customer interactions are working toward what is being called the ‘digital-first’ paradigm for operating totally, or almost totally, within the digital realm. This strategy focuses on leveraging technology to open broader opportunities for growth since the reach in cyberspace is global.
A Brief Look at the Benefits of a Digital Transformation
Let’s begin with the benefits we’ve already seen during the Covid-19 pandemic. While so many businesses, schools and even churches were forced to shutter their doors, any business operating online could keep on going. They could continue doing business as usual with only one bump in the road, which actually turned out to be quite a large one in some cases.
During the pandemic when orders were being taken online, the one major glitch in the system was a major disruption in the supply chain. With so many factories being shut down and manufacturing in many cases drawn to a halt, there wasn’t ample merchandise to be shipped. However, this became another reason to transition to a digital-first infrastructure because it brought to the forefront the need to automate many of the processes still handled by humans. This is not to say that humans will be put out of work, but rather, they too will be transitioned to other jobs which technology can’t handle at this point in time.
So then, some of the key benefits are the fact that many workers were able to work from home, other than positions in manufacturing and production. Sales teams, office staff, administrators, designers and architects are examples of positions that could be handled remotely in the digital realm. They could work efficiently online. Customer service also flourished during that time, and thankfully so. With such a disruption in the supply chain, customer service reps were busy around the clock, albeit from remote locations.
Advice for Today’s Forward-Thinking Administrators
If you haven’t already begun investing in the technology needed to transition your business operations to the digital arena, now would be the time to do so. Many of your top competitors are already doing so and if you don’t keep up with the transformation, you could be left in the dust. Some of the technology needed to affect this transition would be such things as AI and Automation. Also, companies need to invest in low code platforms that can easily be transitioned to fully automated processes in increments.
It would be at this point that you may also want to invest in a business adviser who can help you determine how best to streamline your DX. You may want to take on one process at a time for financial reasons or you may want a major overhaul in one go. However, with this being a new paradigm hurried forward by the losses sustained during the pandemic, it’s not something every business is equipped to handle without major advice.
Begin the Transition Now to a Remote Workforce
One of the major changes that will be brought about by a digital-first business structure would be a transition to a remote workforce. You could do this in increments by starting key employees as flex workers. They would work part of the time from home and part of the time on site. As the process becomes familiar, they may, at one point, be transitioned totally to a remote workforce.
Some companies are also looking at outsourcing some of their jobs because these are already working in the digital realm. One thing should be made clear here. Outsourcing is not the same as off-shoring so the jobs could be kept in country, rather than being sent abroad. Even so, if you have any hope of being inline with the digital-first ‘timeline,’ it would pay to research the advantages of outsourcing if necessary.
On a Final Note
There is one thing you can take away from all this. There is no stopping the DX and within just a few short years most of the world will be operating in a digital-first environment. With that being the case, now is the time to begin your DX or be left behind.