Tomorrow has Come, Time to Embrace Digital Transformation | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

Tomorrow has Come, Time to Embrace Digital Transformation

Posted 4.21.2020

For a long time, digital transformation has been an agenda for tomorrow, and companies believed they did not have to change any time soon. Yet COVID-19 is forcing companies to embrace digital transformation to survive and prepare for the post-crisis new normal. While some of the Tech giants like Amazon are flourishing, other companies are struck by the disturbance caused by the pandemic and its profound implications for the global economy and businesses. Supply chains are disrupted; customer demands are dampened.

A record number of companies are failing to meet their performance expectations. In response, nimble companies are rapidly reorganizing by embracing digital transformation strategies now.   

Three key areas where digital transformation can help equip companies for the post-pandemic era:

Data orientation. One crucial outcome of social distancing and lockdown is companies are losing contact with their customers, and are unable to predict customer demand. Companies that are more data-oriented and use analytical tools, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, will better understand their customers and able to constantly adjust their actions.

Supply chain. Digital transformation can help companies by improving the agility and reliability of their supply chains, which have been disrupted by the uncertainty of COVID-19. Companies need to properly leverage digital tools to re-configure their supply chains — from purchasing raw materials, to safely manufacturing products, and to efficiently fulfilling and delivering orders. A powerful example is the use of 3D printing techniques to make alternative spare parts that were inaccessible in the supply chain.

Digitization. Every aspect of a business can be digitalized. This is not the boldest idea, but an ongoing process that all companies should take into consideration. Digitization indicates an integration change of the organization and overturns the boundaries between physical and digital worlds.  Both internal communications and customer interactions must embrace the new normal of contact-less interactions. What used to be considered to be a normal mode of customer interactions might quickly become a thing of the past. The banking industry is a prime example. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the demand for digital banking dramatically increased. Banks who delayed digital transformation face losing their customers, because customers will develop inertia. They will continue their relationship with the banks that deliver delightful digital experiences, even when the pandemic is overt. 

These forced changes that companies are now taking as an emergency measure to protect their employees and customers, however, can be used as a strategic learning opportunity for the future digital transformation. For example, companies that used to rely on physical touchpoints to offer their service in certain geographic markets might want to strategically deploy digital tools to enter the market that was prohibitively expensive. 

Two recent articles address the need for companies to embrace tech in the post-COVID-19 world:  The Economist’s The Changes Covid-19 is Forcing on to Business and The Manufacturer’s  What is the Future for Industry 4.0 in the post- Covid-19 paradigm? 

This is the right time, and for some the best or maybe the last chance, for companies to consider how to employ digital transformation. COVID-19 has pushed digital transformation onto today’s agenda. 


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