As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country and around the globe, the ripple effects caused by the virus have been far-reaching. The pandemic is bringing economies to a standstill and stretching healthcare systems far beyond their limits.
Particularly, a rising question for businesses is what the pandemic will signify for the future of digital transformation. Offices nationwide have been shuttered indefinitely and workforces are required to go remote with very little time to prepare. Companies are thinking about their digital transformation initiatives now more than ever.
With that in mind, we’re looking at the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on companies investing in digital transformation. Now that corporate culture and workplace operations have been profoundly, and indefinitely, disrupted we must be keen to identify the most effective work-from-home practices.
All in on Digital Transformation
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic was on anyone’s radar, most businesses recognized the importance of digital transformation in order to enhance their ability to survive and grow in our increasingly digital society.
Although a number of companies haven’t always felt the pressure to make digital transformation a top priority, it’s become a necessity given the majority of us are now forced to isolate at home for the foreseeable future.
What the current crisis illuminates, though, is that a tepid approach to a digital transformation most likely will not succeed moving forward. Companies that have invested whole-heartedly in digital transformation prior to the pandemic are now in a much better position to continue operating smoothly than those that took a limited or piecemeal approach.
The top Digital Transformation initiatives of the moment
There are a few key areas within the broader digital transformation landscape that are the most consequential at the moment.
Telemedicine - Digital transformation in the medical space has been an exciting prospect in the past few years. Small strides have been made because it’s been difficult to encourage broad adoption in an industry that’s weighed down by legacy systems and entrenched ideas.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought the need for telemedicine into the forefront of our cultural consciousness. There’s a critical and growing need for doctors to have the ability to consult with patients remotely in order to reduce the chances of virus transmission. With that being said we can expect significant growth in telehealth to be one of the longer-term results of the pandemic.
Virtual events - As details of the pandemic’s spread began to emerge, it quickly became clear that conferences and events were hot spots for transmission. Attendees often travel from all over the world to participate, and sometimes spend days in close contact with one another. During a viral outbreak, this can be a recipe for disaster which is why events such as these must be canceled.
Emerging from this reality is a new focus on virtual events and online learning. Companies are exploring ways to translate in-person events to digital experiences while ensuring they maintain value and remain compelling.
It seems unlikely that virtual events will ever replace in-person ones (assuming community health is no longer a concern). We expect to see less innovation and acceleration in the virtual event space than the telehealth or remote work fields.
Remote work - The ability to enable employees to work remotely and still remain effective in their roles is the most pressing need for businesses right now. Many companies, particularly in tech and digital spaces, have offered flexible work-from-home policies. More traditional corporations have fallen behind in this respect because they’ve resisted the idea of flexible work. The crisis has shown us that many jobs we thought couldn’t be done from outside the office, in fact, can, but only when appropriate infrastructure is in place.
A lot of businesses will likely return to their old ways of operating once it’s safe to do so. The fact that experts predict this crisis may continue for months will necessitate investment in remote work infrastructure for the near-term. Even when employees can return to work again, we expect companies to focus on digital transformation of operations as a means of safeguarding against unforeseen future disruptions.
The limitations on Digital Transformation
We do expect to see an uptick in the pace of digital transformation in businesses across a wide range of industries but the fact that many businesses will suffer losses in the months to come complicates the picture slightly.
Digital transformation is more critical than ever but, according to reporting from econsultancy, the expense of undertaking such a transformation might prove prohibitive for businesses that will take a hit during this crisis.
There will undoubtedly be many lessons that emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, but a big one for business will certainly be the necessity of strategically planned, thoughtfully implemented digital transformation as the only way to survive this crisis and future ones.