No one fully foresaw the extent of disruption that COVID-19 would bring to businesses. It has forced business leaders to accelerate their transition of business operations into the digital world, from adopting productivity platforms like Zoom and Slack to digitising customer interactions and information processing with automated forms, all businesses are racing to embrace digital platforms to enable their operations to continue running as smoothly as possible.
Companies that have advanced their digitalisation capabilities in the past few years are likely adapting well. However, companies that did not prioritise their digital transformation pre-COVID, many retailers for example, are seeing their operations shattered. How can business leaders respond to the challenges, reassess what they do, reconfigure their companies and reinvent their activities to adapt to the disruption and prepare for the ‘new normal’?
In the spirit of helping organisations adapt quickly to the ‘all-digital’ era we put together in this article the three main challenges businesses face today and ways to improve digital agility to overcome this disruption and lead meaningful conversations with customers at a time when it is more important than ever.
Need for Speed
The EY Future Consumer Index spotlights the impact that this pandemic has almost instantly created: 42% of respondents said they’d change the way they shop, and 35% said they’re changing the products that they buy. I don’t think we’ve seen a moment in time where so many customers are saying, “I want you to sell to me differently” — and a third of them want something other than what you’ve been offering. This reverberates through business models, supply chains and beyond, driving the need for flexibility, resilience and agility.
The pandemic has further increased the demand for digital capabilities including self-service portals, mobile communications, eCommerce portals, etc. Moving to a cloud-first solution with adaptive engagement and process automation enables you to have customer centric interactions. It also provides the infrastructure to support convenient, compliant and accessible communications that can be quickly accessed through the customer’s preferred channel.
Reducing reliance on manual forms and processes is key. Those companies that have invested in cloud-based technologies focused on digitally connecting with their customers are better positioned to quickly shift their focus to all-digital or nearly all-digital communications more quickly and can rest assured that these communications are available now, personalised, and interactive.
Quickly Adjusting to New Policies
With the speed at which new policies and changes are coming, companies who were caught off guard are realising the urgent need for a solution to quickly replace those transactions that were historically done in person.
Take the recent launch of the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Grants as an example. In response to the new Job Keeper program, businesses began flooding the government with applications to take advantage of newly available funding. With the initial $130 billion in funds made available, the initial number of applicants soon reached 950,000 organisations and 3.5 million individuals.
If you’ve seen people standing in line on the news or the flood of complaint articles, it is because government agencies were using static forms to process all these applications almost manually. It was proven that the standard PDF form would not support the rapidly growing number of applicants, instead a digital, automated way had to be adopted quite quickly.
Much of the slow movement to respond to businesses and citizens could have been prevented via a personalised user experience to apply and file for essential relief. Companies that don’t want to experience this frustration again, will certainly now be encouraged to transform their forms process.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a full-stop on business as usual and a launching pad for organisations to become virtual, digital-centric, and agile—and to do it all at a lightning-fast speed. Companies that have embraced the latter are ahead of the race. They have successfully transitioned into a fully digital workplace and have come up with new digital ways of communicating with their customers elevating their customer experience.
As their leaders look ahead to the next year and beyond, they’re asking: How do we keep this momentum going? How do we make the best of what we’ve learned and put into practice throughout the pandemic, and make sure it’s woven into everything we do going forward? “Business leaders are saying that they’ve accomplished in 10 days what used to take them 10 months,” says Kate Smaje, a senior partner and global co-leader of McKinsey Digital. “That kind of speed is what’s unleashing a wave of innovation, unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”
Where do you go from here?
That realisation is coming not a moment too soon. Even before the global health crisis hit, 92 per cent of company leaders surveyed by McKinsey thought that their business model would not remain viable at the rates of digitisation at that time. The pandemic just put that whole scenario on steroids. The companies that are leading the way out of this crisis, the ones that will grab market share and set the tone and tempo for others, are the ones first out of the gate. “The fundamental reality is that the accelerating speed of digital means that we are increasingly living in a winner-take-all world,” Smaje says. “But simply going faster isn’t the answer. Rather, winning companies are investing in the tech, data, processes, and people to enable speed through better decisions and faster course corrections based on what they learn.”
It’s more important now than ever before for businesses to be equipped with the tools and capabilities needed to be more digital-focused, agile and customer-centric. Digital agility will be a key factor in determining who continues to struggle and who perseveres and emerges stronger once the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.
The good news is, some solutions can empower businesses to succeed. Need help navigating your next steps toward achieving digital agility in the age of COVID-19 and sustaining it moving forward? Connect with us and one of our experts will be in touch.