Has Covid sped up the need for digital transformation?
Has Covid sped up the need for digital transformation? The short answer is yes, but you might be surprised by just how much. According to research by McKinsey & Company, the pandemic caused digital offerings to leapfrog seven years of progress in a matter of months. What’s more, organisations that previously thought remote working was out of the question were able to transition up to 40 times faster than they had thought possible. In this article, we’re looking at how Covid has forced organisations to embrace new technologies, the unexpected benefits of forced transformation, and how digital transformation will look in a post-pandemic world.
Key reasons for change
Before we look at how organisations have benefited from unplanned digital transformation, let’s look at the key reasons change was necessary.
In March 2020, the UK government implemented a nationwide lockdown. Businesses and organisations that did not provide essential services were told to temporarily close their businesses or enable their employees to work from home. Prior to the lockdown, many organisations believed a transition to remote working would take up to a year. When lockdown was enforced, many organisations achieved it in an average of 11 days.
One of the biggest factors to success was the realisation that the new infrastructure did not have to be perfect immediately. Many businesses were able to implement quick fixes and temporary measures until they could roll out more appropriate long-term solutions. Once leaders and decision-makers acknowledged that perfection was not paramount, they were emboldened to make further change.
Change in customer needs
Another driving factor towards digital transformation was the change in customer needs. One of the most critical changes organisations had to embrace was a move to contactless transactions. This change not only applied to payment transactions but also to operational processes and communication channels. It opened the way for technologies such as video calls and live chat to replace face to face meetings. Digital forms replaced paper forms, and QR codes increased in use and popularity.
Change in consumer behaviour
One of the most notable driving forces in digital transformation is the shift in customer behaviour. People who were previously averse to using digital services such as food shopping, online banking, and video calling now embrace digital offerings and have greater confidence in technology. Even as we return to pre-pandemic ways of life, many people will continue to favour online services due to their convenience and accessibility. Organisations that resist digital transformation will find themselves getting left behind.
Before the pandemic, there was a basic awareness around how technology could reduce costs and improve efficiency. However, many organisations were unaware of the extent to which they could benefit – they were oblivious to the full capabilities of the tech on offer. When the pandemic hit, customer demand pushed organisations towards offering contactless services and, in doing so, opened their eyes to what was truly possible with automation software.
Business leaders realised that concepts they previously deemed unachievable or inaccessible were actually within reach and budget. As a result, organisations no longer view technology purely from a cost-saving perspective. They understand that modernising their operational processes is unlocking capacity, giving them a competitive advantage, and improving the experience for both customers and employees. Remote working is another area where new opportunities are being presented. Organisations who previously had no means to support home-workers now have effective systems in place. This is advantageous for existing employees and makes organisations more attractive to new employees.
It also allows organisations to recruit from a wider talent pool – if employees can work from anywhere, you’re no longer restricted by geographical constraints. You don’t lose employees when they relocate, and you don’t discourage potential candidates from applying based on proximity to the office. Most organisations recognise that they can never entirely return to their past ways of working. Rather than viewing this as a problem, many people are excited about embracing new solutions and continuing their digital journey.
Digital transformation in the post-pandemic world
Before the pandemic, many organisations were hindered by an all or nothing approach. Digital transformation felt like an overwhelming and expensive task with too many moving parts. A sudden need to adopt digital ways of working removed several perceived barriers. Perfection was no longer a priority – continuity was. This was the right response to what was, for many, a crisis. In a crisis, we have to react, which sometimes means compromise. Now we are coming out of the crisis stage, organisations can review their digital capabilities and make more informed decisions about the next steps.
Just as businesses have had a chance to adapt to new ways of working, fraudsters and hackers have had a chance to adapt too and are quick to find new vulnerabilities they can exploit. Therefore, one of the biggest considerations for organisations must be security, especially where financial transactions and sensitive data are involved. A shift to remote working means organisations now need to extend their security measures to cover external devices. It’s prudent to evaluate all aspects of your cyber security and data protection processes to ensure you are not leaving yourself open to cyber-attacks.
Suitability, compatibility and integration
For many organisations, the rush to go digital was a bit like trying to plug leaks in a sinking ship. Patching one hole with one thing, covering another gap with something else, and grabbing anything to hand to start bailing out water. Unfortunately, this means many organisations have different bits of software doing different things rather than having joined-up, streamlined systems. Now is the time to review systems and software, assess their suitability and find agile, integrated solutions that meet your operational needs long-term.
Improving and future-proofing
Customers and employees were patient during the early stages of the pandemic, accepting that organisations were doing their best to adapt. As the weeks turned into months, and the months into years, patience started to dwindle, and expectations changed.
Many people have now embraced the online world and plan to continue digitally interacting with businesses and service providers. To meet customer expectations and ensure a positive user experience, organisations need to be looking at how they can further improve their digital offering.
Similarly, employees are now fully aware of the many opportunities for flexible working and companies offering remote working are becoming more attractive. It is no longer enough to expect employees working from home to ‘make-do’. Organisations that want to keep remote workers engaged and attract new talent need to make remote and hybrid working a positive experience. The technology to do that is available, and the companies that want to avoid low employee satisfaction and high staff attrition rates should embrace it.
Digital transformation with Meritec
While our digital transformation services will benefit any business or organisation, we specialise in working with local authorities and housing associations. Our solutions enable you to deliver superior digital experiences for your citizens, customers, tenants and employees by transforming your communication and process channels.
You can find out more about our digital transformation services here, or contact our team to find out why so many local authorities have already chosen Meritec as their digital transformation partner.