The coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the global business landscape. If just a few months ago businesses can still hedge on going digital, the same can’t be said today.
Lockdowns and physical distancing restrictions quickly drove consumers to online shopping. Remote work has suddenly become the norm.
Companies that haven’t prepared for the digital shift and those that aren’t flexible enough to adapt have been exposed as sitting ducks by the crisis.
For example, a number of retailers that relied mainly on their brick and mortar presence have filed for bankruptcy. Only 22 percent of companies also claimed to be ready for mass remote work prior to the pandemic.
The rest simply had to absorb the disruption into their operations as they scrambled to set up the infrastructure needed for employees to work from home.
The effects of the pandemic are expected to last for years to come. As such, enterprises must prepare for the next normal if they expect not only to weather the crisis but to succeed in a post-COVID-19 world.
Considering how technology has become the difference maker for businesses that are thriving in the crisis, companies should commit to digital transformation and even speed up shifting their workloads online.
Time to Sink or Swim
Businesses, in general, are in a very precarious position these days. The World Bank projects that the global GDP will contract by 5.2 percent.
Some of the leading economies like the US and Canada have even reported double-digit dips in their respective GDPs in Q2 of this year.
Unemployment and reduced buying power have also prompted consumers to change their spending habits, focusing more on food and household items, and less on leisure and apparel.
But while these changes should spark real concern for enterprises, careful and calculated responses can help lessen the impact of unfavorable economic conditions.
Enterprises must take stock of their situation and make decisive calls on whether to move forward or join the list of companies that have shuttered their doors.
They must observe trends in their respective markets and find new opportunities. For instance, food businesses are among the hardest hit yet some restaurants were able to adjust not just by supporting online orders and deliveries but through twists such as offering meal kits that can be cooked at home.
But pivots are only part of what’s needed to survive this climate. Business continuity should also be at the top of their priorities.
Factoring in the adverse elements such as limited mobility and disruption of supply chains, they must figure out how they can keep their operations going.
Since doing things digitally is expected to persist and become part of the next normal, technology will be central to how business will operate.
Organizations that have lagged in terms of digital transformation must finally catch up. Some businesses are already dealing with the recurring lockdowns and restrictions as their countries experience new outbreaks of the virus.
If they aren’t preparing for remote work and ecommerce now, then business continuity will be nearly impossible for them to achieve.
Digital Transformation Is Possible
Industry leaders are doubling down on their work-from-home policies. Tech giant Google announced that it will be extending its remote work arrangements with its employees to last until the middle of 2021.
Other enterprises are even committing to allowing remote work as a permanent option even as economies fully open up again.
An overwhelming 98 percent of workers also claim that they are interested in having remote work as an option post-COVID-19.
Enabling remote work alone can be a monumental task for any enterprise. Each business area has its own set of challenges in how to bring their respective workloads online.
Companies must be able to figure out how to configure their infrastructure to create seamless workflows. Fortunately, cloud-based business applications are available for companies to adopt.
Not only do they allow productivity and collaboration online but they also offer integrations with other applications, helping create seamless workflows.
Setting up ecommerce channels quickly is also possible. Merchants can opt to participate in existing online marketplaces.
They can also build their own through website and app builders and ecommerce platforms. Payments and logistics services are available and can be easily integrated into these platforms to help create fully online ecommerce channels.
Some merchants are attempting some form of compromise between an online and physical presence.
“Buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) is also trending among retailers, with 13 percent of consumers claiming to have increased frequency in using it as a shopping option.
BOPIS essentially allows brick and mortar establishments to both utilize their physical assets, such as their stores and warehouses and still abide by health and safety protocols.
Education and onboarding will be vital activities to support this digital shift. Employees must be trained in their new ways of working.
They must know how to perform their roles in a remote work setup and how to use the digital infrastructure and tools effectively.
Customers must also be informed of how they can reach out to businesses and how to access and use the new digital channels to perform transactions.
Survival and Sustainability
Even before the pandemic, digital transformation had already proved its value to businesses. Digital leaders are known to be more profitable compared to laggards.
Today, digital transformation has become a necessity for businesses to function, leaving companies with no choice but to commit at last to going digital.
Organizations, however, can take comfort in the fact that barriers to digital transformation have significantly been lowered due to the wide availability and accessibility of modern solutions.
Enterprises that have put off their transformation efforts must finally switch their mentality and view going digital as a worthwhile investment.
As the trends indicate, it will be key to surviving the ongoing crisis and work toward building sustainable ventures after.