Why Now Is The Perfect Time For A Digital Transformation
Article originally published in Forbes.
The Covid-19 pandemic has rendered many of our old business practices obsolete. Everything we do now has to be scrutinized under the lens of social distancing, from the way customers and staff interact with each other to how much stock we can afford to supply. Business owners are scrambling for options that will help keep customers happy, employees working and the business liquid — options like digital transformation.
What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation is when companies adopt new or developing technology to solve business problems. The new technology either enhances the capabilities of humans involved in the process or reduces the need for humans to be involved.
A well-executed digital transformation program will ease the burden on many fronts. It can streamline operations without compromising customer service. It can increase employee efficiency while reducing overhead costs.
Yet many organizations still sit on the fence. They’re not sure if it’s the right time to execute a digital transformation program with everything going on. They’re worried that it may be forcing too much change on teams that are already in the middle of so much upheaval.
It’s actually the opposite. Now is the perfect time for change, for a number of different reasons.
The pandemic forced us to check our assumptions
As recently as six months ago, many organizations fiercely resisted the urge to do remote work on a large scale. They feared that it would make their workforce inefficient — that employees would take advantage of the distance and goof off or turn in substandard deliverables.
Now, however, most businesses find that there was nothing to these fears. Multiple high-profile companies including Facebook and Shopify have announced permanent shifts to remote work. Managers and employees alike have discovered that workers can actually be more effective at home if they are managed effectively.
A new, open mindset
The fact that the status quo is no longer viable makes us more open to alternative ways of working and doing business. We’re seeing opportunities for change that we couldn’t see before simply because day-to-day operations occupied most of our mental space.
This new mindset has spread throughout all levels of the organization, from front-line workers to the C-suite. The hunger for change is there, as long as the change helps the business survive — and thrive — in “the new normal.”
Widespread recognition of digital transformation’s value
Previously, only a relatively few digital die-hards pushed for this change in an organization. Efforts to garner support were typically met with nothing more substantial than halfhearted encouragement. Part of this was because it was difficult to see the value that digital transformation could bring to customers while current operations were performing so smoothly (or so it appeared).
But now the advantages are easier to notice. Everyone, from customers to IT to sales, recognizes how a business can benefit from digital transformation if applied properly. In fact, businesses that are still operating with an obsolete infrastructure are feeling the lack of a digital transformation program as they struggle.
The question now is not “How can we benefit from digital infrastructure?” but “How soon?”
Quick action is required
Businesses that proactively executed digital transformation strategies in the years prior to the pandemic are likely in a better position to weather the current storm. If your own organization hasn’t already undergone a digital transformation, then you’re probably hurting more than you need to.
You can’t turn back time and start your digital transformation last year, but you can prevent further loss by taking action now. It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting from scratch or dusting off an old digital transformation plan — your business has to start moving forward immediately or risk falling further behind, which can have dire consequences during these times and long after.
The pandemic is not a short-term event
As of this writing, thousands of cases of Covid-19 are still being detected every day. Even if new cases ended today, the fallout from this event would affect people’s lives months or even years into the future.
Your organization shouldn’t operate under the assumption that things will eventually return to how they were before. It’s not going to happen. Instead, your business should deal with things as they are, and work to address how they will be. This means that planning for increased flexibility in the future is an absolute must.
The only way a business will be able to succeed in a post-pandemic era is to undergo a digital transformation that takes into account all the lifestyle, economic and business changes that Covid-19 has forced upon the world.
Now is the perfect time to undergo your digital transformation. Use your newfound internal support to restructure your business. Push change that will help you function effectively within the limitations of social distancing and quarantine. Seize the opportunity for organizational self-improvement, and help keep your organization relevant to your customers.
Your customers are changing, and so should you.
Written by Shane Zilinskas, Founder
Published July 10, 2020