All businesses have undergone unparalleled disruptions and were faced with the challenge/opportunity to prove their adaptability to change. This is a phrase which, in various forms and iterations, has been on the top of our minds since the beginning of the pandemic crisis. It may already seem like it has inadvertently become a buzz phrase, but this perception does not mean that the truth behind it is less accurate.  

Especially mid-sized and small companies show vulnerability to the economic effects of the present situation, while large corporations fully invest their internal strategy to becoming more flexible than ever before. As part of their main challenges, businesses try to ensure employee safety, stabilize operations and make hard decisions to keep the business afloat while managing the huge ramp-up of optimization and change requests.  

For most businesses it is a matter of surviving through the pressure and, depending on how they act now, thriving after the crisis. In their IT Spending Forecast 1Q20, Gartner experts list some rather pessimistic assumptions on how the situation will develop after these uncertain weeks. The assumptions include: 

  • COVID-19 infection in Western Europe to have the peak by the end of April or May, depending on the country.  
  • Businesses that were closed to have a hard time recovering 
  • Economic recovery in Western Europe to follow a similar pattern to what is being observed in China.  

As almost all industries are affected by the world-wide lockdowns, supply and demand shock-waves are expected. Going in-depth, the pandemic impacts not only our day-to-day life but the core of businesses by endangering systems, operations, supply chains and workplaces. 

From there, the effects of the crisis are mirrored in the human component of every organization: staff safety, customer experience, and way of working. 

Emerge stronger: today's digital implementation, tomorrow's business lifeline 

It has become clear that the current disruption is accelerating the technological future, so ensuring business continuity while undergoing a fast transformation is crucial. 

Customers now meet their requirements digitally, abandoning brick and mortar businesses to work with online providers. This will further deepen the performance gap between digital leaders and those who fail to adapt to the new global paradigm. 

Although it might seem like it’s not the time for business innovations, digital solutions can bring you the needed tools to protect yourself and ensure the business lifeline. Depending on the specificities of your business, these are the 3 general pillars that enable higher stability by undergoing a digital transformation: 

1. Digitally transform your Infrastructure to stabilize operations  

Companies must now build in flexibility to protect against future crises. Some companies are adapting their core and repurposing their assets to gain efficiency and stabilize operations as fast as possible. New consumers digitally engaging with online providers bring different expectations, but also new opportunities to building trust and relevance.  

IT and business leaders must quickly address the stability of critical business processes and underlying systems. 

With Digital Accelerators like Cloud Migration, they can offload any unnecessary technical burden, by creating a scalable and reliable work environment that ensures higher productivity, less disruption, as well as higher uptime and reliability.  

The crisis has severely impacted several organizations and rushed them towards a digital approach that enables them to keep the lights on with the help of 24/7 Monitoring Services. These services assure that the business is using the infrastructure at its full capability. Monitoring the systems avoids disruption factors like downtimes or data loss. Real-time data reporting helps a more agile decision-making flow, that further positively impacts the responding time to immediate business needs.  

2. Ensure a modern workplace for your employees’ safety  

Home-based activities have changed the workforce productivity, maybe even forever. Millions are now working from home worldwide, while virtually engaging, consuming and socializing. 

This will challenge the way companies interact with their employees in terms of how, when and where. Remote connectivity and online security are now something normal and expected to happen. 

Anything that can be done virtually will be favoured by those who no longer see the obligation of being physically present to everyday activities. 

In this context, organizations should establish a resilient culture and continue to work collaboratively. The right approach to emerge stronger after this situation is to augment your company's modern workspace with digital capabilities and find the balance between working from home and the office. More than that, the IT Department should be proactive and minimize potential data breaches to ensure data privacy.  

A clear modern workplace strategy should cover the security of both the employees and the company’s enterprise data. This translates into offering the flexibility for employees to choose where and when to work from, feel safe in their work environment and provide all the tools they need to collaborate and be productive. 

3. Automate your supply chain for better customer experience  

Fear and insecurities are catalysts for what will be a new ecosystem that reflects especially in the supply chain. The main business continuity risks include supply chain disruptions, shifts in customer touch points and unavailability of resources.  

In B2B, with the unpredictability in the product supply chain and distribution channels, manufacturers are looking to expand their strategy to move closer to end consumers. 

This will lead to a shift from physical to digital purchasing and a change in request and demand models in Western Europe. Businesses will need to show end-to-end transparency.  

Chatbots, image recognition, automated production and quality management lines are just a few of how solutions like AI and RPA enable a company’s supply chain performance. Due to the increased need for technological solutions, machine learning and smart IT systems that predict, optimize, produce and resolve are a key aspect to win the future.  

Implement now: 5 steps to digital transformation  

Digital Transformation enables adaptability and flexibility. These are the core competences of tomorrow’s competitive companies. Nowadays the business models we know tend to shift to overcome even the most unexpected challenges, while never forgetting to double-check their strategy for emergencies.  

How can organizations leverage digital capabilities to make sure they emerge stronger after the COVID-19 Pandemic? Here are 5 steps to digital transformation:  

1. Start with customer focus and User experience in mind 

When starting a digital transformation journey, the driving force behind technology decisions should always be the end consumers or users.  

2. Adjust the mindset and organizational structure 

Successful digital transformation begins with the leaders who can get everyone onboard and share their vision. Change is always difficult, no matter how many long-term benefits it might bring along.  

3. Focus on scalability and integration  

All functional systems must be integrated into the company's digitalization process while keeping in mind they should be capable to adapt to future requirements.  

4. Adjust and improve your supply chain 

Companies must look at how to digitize the supply chain and improve the development of products, services and processes. 

5. Digitalize and personalize 

After the crisis, successful companies should look beyond segmented operations and try to digitize every aspect of the business, by understanding customers and providing unique user experiences.  

Prove your adaptability to change  

Change can be challenging, but difficult times show us that adaptability is key to surviving and growing as a business. Digital solutions are the right instruments to gain stability by leveraging a stable digital workplace and coherent integrations. 

By updating your infrastructure, implementing a modern workplace strategy and automating your supply chain, you gain competitive advantages for the future.  

What can’t be argued is that, in the long-term, risk response will need to become an integral part of business-as-usual protocols. This forced change can be positive, as many companies now leverage digital capabilities to grow stronger. 

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