Digital Transformation – making It clearer

Could the current situation we all find ourselves in shine a light on digital transformation and make what it means just a little bit clearer?

In years to come 2020 will be remembered as the year the world came to a stop. We closed shops, restaurants and bars. Those who could all worked from home. Our transport systems shut down with planes grounded and cars parked up with no use for them. We all did our bit to stay home and save lives. Those are the things we will remember for a long time to come.

The way in which businesses operate has transformed overnight. Many have had to put all plans on hold or close completely for now while others are able, by the nature of their business to adapt the ways they can operate as they try to come out the other side of this crisis in as strong a position as possible to continue when we strive to get back to normal. Whatever that normal might be. Will we ever return to old ways of working or has this made us more aware that there are alternatives? That resilience will be needed to boost the economy when we do come through this.

We’ve talked about digital transformation in previous posts but now, more than ever, we might understand more about what it really means. To continue to operate, businesses have turned to technologies – some they have used extensively already and in some cases the world of technology is completely new. They’ve adapted in a bid to make sure they remain in business.

Take for example, the events industry. They were perhaps one of the first impacted by the current crisis. People held off in booking event space early in the year as we all waited to see what was going to happen until eventually, they were all postponed or cancelled. However, some have turned to technology and moved planned events to virtual meet-ups, webinars and videos where it might be on a smaller scale to what was originally planned but they are still reaching some of their target audience as a result. It’s not just B2B events where this has happened either. Indeed, I took part in my first virtual pub quiz night recently where we had our team all chatting and deciding on our answers via the House Party app while each household involved was watching the quiz master read the questions via YouTube.  Again, people who would normally be running these events live have adapted and gone online which keeps their business working but helps bring friends and families together for virtual socialising while we are all at home. The other benefit to the one we used is that there is a different charity being supported every week with donations from those taking part so it’s helping charities as well who can’t hold their usual fundraising events.

In many ways we are so disconnected at the moment but in others, we are perhaps fortunate to be living through this crisis at a time when we can stay connected via technology.

At the moment, there can be no business as usual, not matter how much we try, things can’t possibly just continue as they were and the impact on all businesses will be felt for some time to come. However for now, adaptability is the key, pivot into a new area now and pick up on the original business plans later. 

In a recent Forbes article, Digital Transformation For Good Shines As We Fight Covid-19, the author gives us a list of areas where technology and digital transformation is being used as a force for good to help the effort in fighting this disease and the results from it – many from companies who have adapted quickly and stepped up to do whatever is needed . The conclusion he makes is that.  

“These pivots can only happen in one kind of organization. The organizations that have embraced digital transformation. These are the organizations who were ready for technology. These are the organizations who looked at a piece of technology and said this can be used differently. They have the leaders who were ready for change. They have the cultures that were ready to step up. This is what digital transformation for good looks like” (Source – Daniel Newman – Forbes)

In a previous blog I argued that my view of digital transformation was driven by a need for business change and technology was the facilitator. Now, more than ever that is true. Businesses have had to change and in many cases technology is facilitating that. Some were further along that digital journey than others and were able, as a result to overnight have all of their staff work from home. Others are looking to pivot further and for them it’s not simply moving their workforce to their homes but it’s about changing their business model to produce something that is needed now. The common theme in all cases is the ability to adapt and change quickly and that for me, is what digital transformation means. It’s resilience and it’s embracing change.

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