OPINION: Digitisation of business has become vital for survival

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OPINION: Digitisation of business has become vital for survival
BCCL
  • It's not a new phenomenon for businesses to go digital; we’ve been observing this change for almost two decades now.
  • However, the pandemic and the “New Normal” have pushed the adoption of digital ahead by 3-4 years and that too at a very accelerated rate.
  • What has changed, is that the purpose of digital is no more to gain advantage but is for survival.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has led the world into a crisis, and this might be the understatement of the decade. With its effect still prevalent and impacting millions of people around the world, it has made its presence felt in all sectors of business and the global economy. The sudden surge resulted in restricted large gatherings of people, in-person business operations and has coaxed people to work from home as much as possible to control the spread of the virus.

The new ways of working however, have not stopped businesses from operating. In response to the current challenges, many companies began to find new ways to survive and grow; and turned to digital as an answer to their problems. Not just business, institutions like schools and governments also incorporated digital in their processes and operations. Most of these businesses and institutions started working through digital channels like video conferencing platforms to engage with their colleagues, students, and clients.

It's not a new phenomenon for businesses to go digital; we’ve been observing this change for almost two decades now. Before the pandemic, digitalisation and technology had gained momentum and had become a novel initiative for almost all businesses. However, the pandemic and the “New Normal” have pushed the adoption of digital ahead by 3-4 years and that too at a very accelerated rate. What has changed, is that the purpose of digital is no more to gain advantage but is for survival, safety being a prime motivation and outcome driving the adoption of digital vs. convenience. Digital has helped businesses to engage better with the customers, allowing flexible ways of working and creating digital and automated operations enabling the introduction of newer, faster, and more efficient processes.

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Industries are revolutionising their business in the wake of new normal.

Uber, for example, recently provided Uber-only drivers with information on adding UberEats food delivery to their services. Uber Eats and Deliveroo, among others, have launched contactless "leave at your door service" to help drivers and customers follow social distancing and quarantine rules.

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Major hospitality players have already employed the latest technological tools to map consumer behaviour better and provide highly personalized services to their customers, such as mobile check-ins, biometric-based access to the room. And “if” you don't like to travel, there are now virtual reality (VR) vacations that you can take from the comfort of your home.

There were companies that saw and seized the opportunity and grew. For instance, Netflix saw exponential growth in subscribers during the lockdown. It reached a whopping 15.8 million paid subscribers in the first three months of 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. The entertainment industry turned to digital and started streaming movies on OOTD platforms creating an alternate business channel.

Others got creative. Whilst the pandemic, KFC went the DIY (Do it yourself) way. They encouraged their customers to cook KFC chicken dishes and post them on social media to be critiqued by KFC members. This campaign had hundreds of customers doing their homemade dishes and posting them with the #RateMyKFC hashtag. The campaign helped KFC stay relevant and engage with its core base of clients.

While many businesses suffered huge losses during the pandemic, Adidas scaled up their brand equity and sales. They transformed their platform and added the new creators club for users to collect points by purchasing and sweating and started a challenge called "Home team hero”, where, for each minute workout Adidas donated $1 to WHO to fight COVID. The users raised $1 million for the pandemic, and the sales rate rose by 93%.

So, what does it truly mean to "go digital"? Digital transformation will look different for every company; it will be hard to define it in a way that applies to all.However, going digital is an ever-evolving journey of adopting digital technologies to help improve and streamline your business.

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Why does digital transformation matter, especially now?

A business may take on digital transformation for several reasons. But by far, the most likely reason is that they are compelled to. But, in the wake of the pandemic, everyone has turned to digital channels for everything, from news to entertainment to education to remote working. In this present situation, the digital transformation has gone from being a significant initiative to absolutely crucial. It has become vital for the survival of the business.

Before the pandemic hit, organizations had the luxury of time to adopt digital transformation as per their needs with a slow and steady approach, but the pandemic took away that luxury and made it a cornerstone to a business’s success and survival.

Digital transformation is vital to all businesses, regardless of size. It is now more important than ever to stay competitive and relevant in this crisis and the ever-growing digital world.

Technology drives the shift in business, and companies that wish to succeed must merge technology with business strategy to stay ahead. Speed is an essential factor too. Digital initiatives that foster improved speed and coordination for the organisation, are at the forefront of business strategy and can lead to a positive customer experience and enhanced operational efficiency.

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What benefits does digital transformation present to organisations?

  • Innovation in product and services is what propels business growth. The insights gathered from the data, which contains customer behaviour, feedback, suggestions, and ratings can help companies make an informed decision on how to modify your products and services to gain competitive advantage. At the same time, technologies like augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), digital twin and digital factories are revolutionising the R&D behind the product design and creation.
  • Better user experience is essential to any business, and with the rise of mobile and technology advancements, we've seen customer expectations change. Offering digital and personalised experience to your customers will make their lives easier and make your business more attractive to potential customers. But, most importantly, it keeps you relevant.
  • Businesses today with digitisation have access to a greater volume of data than ever before. With the right digital tools, businesses can crunch this data into valuable, real-time business insights that can be used to make more informed, quicker decisions about their strategies. In addition, easy access to data is now becoming very critical. In the new normal when more and more companies are adapting to hybrid working, and creating a digital ecosystem, access to the data is necessary from anywhere and everywhere.
  • Last but not the least, a successful digital transformation should lead to higher employee engagement. Many companies are adapting to remote, or hybrid working and will continue to do so post the pandemic as well. In such a scenario, a connected employee environment with a digital ecosystem helps in monitoring productivity and creating a positive and engaging working experience.
Digital transformation was always the way forward for business growth. The new normal just made it more evident. Companies like Amazon, UBER, Netflix were able to grow through the pandemic because they had realised it earlier and had thRajiv Shah, CEO, Digital Business Services, Happiest Minds.Rajiv Shah, CEO, Digital Business Services, Happiest Minds.Rajiv Shah, CEO, Digital Business Services, Happiest Minds.Rajiv Shah, CEO, Digital Business Services, Happiest Minds.e first mover advantage. And they will continue to reap the benefits of their foresightedness. Digital is no more a technology initiative; it is a key aspect of business strategy. The sooner the companies understand that and begin or accelerate their digital transformation journey, the faster they will be able to adapt to the new normal and gain competitive advantage.

The author is Chief Executive Officer of Digital Business Services at Happiest Minds.

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