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COVID-19: A Springboard to Digital

COVID-19, despite the cascading human impact, is acting as the single biggest driver for hastening digital transformation.

By Sanjeev Singh
Managing Consultant & Head of Testing, Nihilent

Digital disruption is altering the very fabric of enterprises across the world. It is creating an existential crisis. Given COVID-19, going, or hastening digital has become a compelling necessity, rather than just a narrative. The dictum, go digital or perish has exactly happened, as brick and mortar approaches no longer holds good. Let’s accept the fact that digital is not a buzz word, rather it’s a living reality for any enterprise to stay relevant and thrive. Digital is not a technology gimmick, rather it is a transformation journey that enables a business to stay relevant and thrive in the impulsive market space.

With social distancing norms, which are expected to be in vogue for an extended period, the last of the physical processes have to be eliminated in favor of digital. This is a time to demolish old conventional ways of doing business and embrace the new to survive the next normal. The digital disruption has changed the rules of the game and the new rules entail the agility of a cheetah to navigate the digital maze.

TAMING THE DISRUPTION

No choice and options left with companies, Digital disruption challenging the status quo more than ever before, creating new benchmarks for productivity and success. What was good in the past is no longer valid. Take for instance the first wave of mobility, the pre-iPhone era, the status quo built by companies like Blackberry, Nokia, and the likes were demolished when Apple launched the iPhone. Disruption comes from nowhere and it creates challenges, opportunities, and of course changes the way of doing business. Today we are in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, and one can easily figure out how verticals like retail and CPG have been impacted. The point here is, COVID-19, despite the cascading human impact, is acting as the single biggest driver for hastening digital transformation.

A STRATEGIC APPROACH TO DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

More than ever, we need to adopt digital, but given the complexities and failure rates of a seamless digital transformation, a bold new strategy is the need of the hour. Success depends on a 360-degree view of the intended transformation and a well-meshed roadmap to achieve it. Remember, NO ONE SOLUTION FITS ALL.

Irrespective of your digital transformation approach and speed, what is important is the ability of the organizations to blend leading technologies that can create a digital ecosystem with the right strategy considering your unique business-IT landscape. In the ambit of the 24/7 nature of businesses and invisible COVID-19, a powerful digital platform can act as a springboard to digital productivity.

Each business is different and so their need and challenges, hence every industry needs a customized digital transformation strategy and plan. Considering the case of the retail industry, they need to maintain a fine balance between physical and online stores. Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Augmented reality (AR), Virtual reality (VR) Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are playing a key role in building an efficient digitally enabled supply chain to cater customers. Essentially we need to empower the customer by giving them more buying choices not necessarily tied to one channel.

COVID-19 AND BEYOND

Let’s look at the scheme of things from the current COVID-19 crisis and the impending next normal. Businesses across industries have taken a hit, and CXOs and CIOs across the world are struggling to decode the current altered landscape and trying to find a method to continue business stay relevant and profitable.

The COVID-19 crisis has come at a time when customers are more demanding and ready to switch to similar competing products if the overall experience is not good. Hence it is important to decode the current customer demands and to address their future needs. Any digital transformation initiative should factor in “customer experience validation” that must be included and integrated into an entire testing process to attain product success.

At this point summarising the precise impact of COVID-19 seems impossible because many factors are unknown and we don’t know when this ends. Companies are dealing with enormous unknown factors, hence next few months and years are more about survival and quickly realigning the competencies to stay relevant in the market space. Especially, the retail industry needs to use emerging tech like AI, AR, VR, ML, RPA, and leverage mobile apps with radically simple UI to make it clutter-free for the customers confined in a lockdown scenario. Enriched digital platforms are helping businesses to customize products and solutions for a customer base more precisely than it was ever done.

Conventional options of the past have taken a pause, all customer-facing B2C industries need to quickly put in place a digital engine tuned to eCommerce with innovative delivery options. They also need better inventory and demand forecasting tools. COVID-19 crisis has put IT in the drivers’ seat and digital-tools-technologies are playing an all-pervasive role. But the road to digital is riddled with challenges and the bottom line is we need to understand the current situation, the customer behavior, and curate a relevant customer experience from customer interactions.

OUTLOOK

COVID-19 calls for a fresh perspective for going digital. It’s all about agility and faster go to market. The Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are in for a change. Today clients are asking their chosen digital partners, how can you enable us to the new and we can stay relevant to the next normal? To succeed in the post-COVID-19 world, digital vendors need digital delivery models that can rapidly scale and adapt to the changing requirements. Assuming that, we see frequent lockdowns and opening up in the future, the digital engines have to be tuned for these eventualities and disruptions it creates. Nihilent is on the forefront and helping businesses in their digital transformation journey, especially its Emotional Analytics solution is helping businesses to read the consumers’ mind scientifically and helps in designing products and solutions that have a higher rate of success.

(This article was first published in Express Computers)