Necessity is, as we all know, the mother of invention. And what a year for invention! Even the most tech-wary and conservative organisations have abandoned all fear of technology and adopted new digital processes and working tools to survive.
As the pandemic transforms the way we live, lockdowns around the world transform the way we do business. For all the uncertainty this year has brought about, one thing is certain: digital is here to stay. How brands and businesses react and transform will not only determine who survives—it will create the new normal and decide who gets to lead it.
McKinsey reports: “Research and experience show that those acting with a through-cycle mindset will be best positioned to accelerate out of the downturn. In the recessions of 2007-08, the top quintile of companies was ahead of their peers by about 20 percentage points as they moved into the recovery in terms of cumulative total returns to shareholders. Eight years later, their lead had grown to more than 150 percentage points. One key lesson from that experience is the companies that move early and decisively in a crisis do best.”
It’s very clear that your brand’s digital transformation is no longer a question of when but how. It is important to acknowledge that digital transformation takes tonnes of courage and even tonnes more perseverance to see it through. This is because the process of transformation tends to occur over a few phases, with the latter phases the most challenging but also the most fruitful.
Phase 1 begins when organisations learn to digitally engage audiences through digital marketing, content development, and production. In this phase, organisations learn to transform by setting up teams to curate and produce the right content for engaging audiences digitally. Organisation transit from relying solely on offline marketing, sales techniques, and sales channels to a combination of offline and online techniques, deploying a combination that’s suited to their stage of growth and business needs.
In phase 2, the company applies automation and cloud-based platforms to streamline processes and operations. This is where the workforce becomes highly engaged in using digital technology, allowing greater transparency and cross-team collaborations to happen.
During this phase, the organisation needs to set clear directions and stagger key performance indicators. These technology adoptions can be highly challenging and difficult for staff to adapt to when integrated into the actual workflow. More often than not, Phase 2 poses huge challenges for organisations as the actual work here is anything but digital and more in the realm of mindset change and shifting deeply entrenched organisational culture.
The changes brought forward by COVID-19 will reach far into the future. Now is the time to pursue digital transformation irrespective of fears. There is simply no alternative but to bite the bullet and power through the phases to ensure business continuity.
It is likely that, moving forward, organisations will realise that the initial knee-jerk reaction to digitalisation is only the tip of the iceberg. What will be crucial in the next few months is adapting business models to centre around customers with a clear digital and mobile-first mindset. Organisations that adapt with speed and grace to this new normal will emerge stronger, with steady revenue streams and unique core competitive advantages, and move into position as the new captains of industry.
Exciting? You bet. If you’re wondering where to begin, this is a good place to start.
Our own organisation’s digital transformation has been a challenging but incredibly rewarding journey.
Top image credit: Unsplash/Sergey Zolkin