The coronavirus pandemic has opened many eyes and caused us to see flashbacks from presentations over the last decade. Proposals to change the way we operate like going digital, paperless, meeting virtually, and being present where our customers are have found themselves buried in the PowerPoint graveyard.
With most countries experiencing some sort of lockdown and private and public employees being asked to work from home, our preparedness has been tested and found wanting.
For years, technologists in organizations have been advocating Digital Transformation, spewing out presentation after presentation to convince those around them that there is a need to change and the time is now.
The irony is that while I was growing up, Government entities were the worst when it came to adoption of Digital Transformation. Today however, in countries like the UAE, you can use most government services via apps and websites without the need to visit a service center. The Government is setting the benchmark when it comes to ease of use, inclusivity and preparedness.
The private sector, however, does not seem to have embraced change as quickly as it should have. This morning I received a WhatsApp message from a retailer in our local mall informing me that they would like to continue to serve me by selling their products over the phone or WhatsApp and they would deliver the products to my doorstep for convenience. While I am touched that they messaged me, why don’t they have a website that enables this? Why are they thinking of this in April 2020? Were they scared to challenge their existing business model with something that could have transformed their business years ago? If you don’t challenge your own business model, don’t expect others not to!
The challenge with Digital Transformation is that it requires two stakeholders to work together in a perfect pull and push rhythm. While organizations must foresee the future and prepare for the changing marketplace, customers must adopt the new offering to make the investment productive.
In our Post-Pandemic world, consumers who were sitting on the fence will finally go inside their homes and order products and services online. E-Commerce and product deliveries in most countries are now being categorized as essential services, enabling them to operate even in such testing times.
In the months to come, we are going to now see a wave of organizations who are going to overreact and speed up the process of transforming their businesses. They will rapidly move services online, try to make things easier for customers and let consumers make changes to their accounts without asking them to visit a customer service center. When this happens, we need to be ready for things to go wrong, security to be breached and scams and identity theft to be rampant because of the quick execution of the plans based on knee-jerk reactions.
I believe that ‘Digital Transformation’ itself will transform as the world rebuilds from the impact of Covid-19. We will have to drop the word ‘Digital’ and accept that what we have to transform will be our entire operations. When coupled together this term feels like it has everything to do with technology. ‘Transformation’ however is not just about video conferencing, cloud computing, e-commerce, paperless approvals and electronic signatures. It is about looking at how we can sustainably and profitably service our customers in a world where we are more demanding, and the operational parameters are ever-changing.
From healthcare to tourism, education to banking, the landscape and the customer expectations are undergoing seismic changes too volatile to measure on a Richter Scale. Transformation will no longer be the task delegated to the technology teams in the organization, it will be a rapid yet participative process that will permeate the entire organization.
Remember, you heard it here first!
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