5 Digital Transformation Tips for COVID-19 Recovery

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Tech Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for IT pros

Monday, September 21, 2020

What began as a long-term vision on a structured roadmap, is now an urgent necessity if businesses want to survive in a post-COVID world. Digital Transformation (DX) and the adoption of new technology to streamline processes and create seamless customer experience was always meant to happen over time. But with the pandemic thrusting organizations into the deep end, industry has been left to embrace changes faster.

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Stressed CIO on laptop figuring out what technologies to use to help his firm recover from COVID

As cloud computing and remote teams become a permanent part of our fabric, planning ahead and ensuring a smooth recovery will be key to staying ahead of disruption. So how do you remain resilient while accelerating your journey for success in the future? Here are 5 digital transformation tips to help businesses through the COVID-19 aftermath.

1. Be prepared to change your cloud strategy

The ongoing pandemic has already forced organizations to reconsider their digital strategy, but the likelihood is that things will change again. Technology is advancing quicker than we can keep up with, which means it will feel like we are constantly playing catch-up. In addition to developments in the cloud, we are also experiencing a cultural shift.

Workplace culture has had a makeover since COVID, with workers now enjoying a more flexible way of working, and remote employees showing positive signs of productivity and engagement. Even as social restrictions ease and teams return to the workplace, culturally things will have to be adjusted in order to push forward with momentum. This means harnessing new technology, embracing cloud, and creating digital collaboration strategies that empower your workforce.

In terms of cloud adoption, for businesses to remain agile and be reactive to new trends and developments, strategies can no longer be bound to five- or ten-year plans. In fact, these days we’re looking at much shorter projections and forecasts, and businesses should expect to adapt their roadmap every two years, or even shorter.

Not only is strategic flexibility a major asset for companies, but it can be used as both an offence and defense mechanism depending on the nature of the change. For businesses looking to gain a competitive edge, being flexible and responsive to change is the key to leading the way in transformation.

As well as staying nimble and having contingencies, IT and Networking teams will also need access to funding. Static budgets can be restrictive; therefore, having good communication with Finance and agreeing on a realistic, flexible budget is advantageous.

2. Look beyond the impacts of COVID

To accelerate the transformation journey, it’s important to have a viewpoint beyond the pandemic and its immediate aftereffects. While recovery is a priority, scalability is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

For instance, does your infrastructure provide you with the speed to expand as your business grows? Are you able to run larger workloads in the cloud when your requirements intensify? Can you ensure the best scalable security as more people and devices connect to your network? It’s important to scale digital technologies for future growth, not just survival, and therefore IT must have a good understanding of trends and a clear roadmap for digitalization.

KPMG’s Customer Experience Excellence study, which spanned 27 countries, regions and jurisdictions, reinforces the need for digitally-enabled commercial interactions in a CX-driven world. The report reveals the brands that got it right with customer experience outperformed those who didn’t. So the time for empowering your teams and delighting your customers through digital transformation, is now.

3. Move away from a passive data footprint

As enterprises ramp up their digital activities, it’s essential for them to manage their data footprint. Businesses of all sizes are generating, collecting and depending on larger amounts of data. Not only does this data need to be readily available and easily accessible for employees with the right clearance, but it needs to be protected to prevent data theft and breaches.

WHO reports a five-fold increase in cyberattacks since the pandemic began, and urges vigilance for businesses as well as the public. The pandemic has been a powerful catalyst for hacking activity in 2020, exposing the vulnerabilities of businesses all over the world. Therefore, it's important to be mindful of digital footprints during this time, and as we move forward into next year.

Our new dependency on digital tools and technology may minimize health risks for workers by allowing them to operate from home, but it increases exposure to online threats. By harnessing the cloud, we can actually protect our data from attack. Not only that, but cloud-based storage can cut costs and reduce team workloads, giving teams more time to focus on important tasks. 

Choosing the right provider is key when it comes to cloud. Being able to reduce your footprint should be a priority, and this needs to be something that resonates across your entire network as more of your business processes go digital.

4. Focus on understanding your stakeholders

In the midst of urgent migration projects and providing teams with the remote tools and resources they need to continue business as usual, it’s easy to overlook the needs of stakeholders in the wider organization.

The six broad stakeholder segments are: investors, suppliers, distributors, partners, customers, and your employees. While traditionally, we have focused on investors and others at the top, it’s now essential to consider the needs of customers and employees first.

Create a profile for all stakeholders (including any subsets), and try to understand their wants, needs and pain points. Ultimately, businesses that get this bit right will be able to align the different requirements of many to create a digital strategy for transformation.

Consider what’s changed as a result of the health crisis, and how technology can be leveraged to overcome core challenges. But the important thing to remember is inclusivity, so involve everyone and flatten the hierarchy when it comes to decision-making. Our digital future will be powered by collaboration, and this means we need to be more people-focused as technology grows.

5. Break down silos in your organization

Thrown into a digitized setup, businesses now have the tools to collaborate better. This means teams can develop better ways of working, and different departments can communicate easily and work towards shared goals.

At the heart of all this is data, something that has traditionally been siloed. As enterprises move workloads to the cloud, they will need to consider optimized storage solutions, and a big shift from disparate data to smarter, unified data management.

Easy file sharing is a must and integrated systems and platforms will pave the way to a better connected, more collaborative workplace.

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