With all the rapid changes of the last year, it has become clear that the future of business depends on technology.
When the global COVID-19 crisis emerged, industries suddenly had to find new ways to protect their operations while complying with public health directives.
No one could have foreseen the far-reaching impacts of the pandemic, but the businesses that have successfully pulled through are now better equipped to deal with its consequences. And in many cases, they owe their survival to a digital transformation initiated before the crisis began.
Now more than ever, companies need to strengthen their digital capabilities in order to overcome the challenges triggered by the pandemic and position themselves for a brighter future. Digital transformation plans should be realistic and broken down into phases. They should also take into account the organization’s needs and resources.
Adapting to new consumer habits
When the pandemic forced businesses to close, consumers turned to online shopping for everything from essential goods to entertainment. The situation forced the hand of even the most reluctant consumers and, as a result, e-commerce has skyrocketed 118% in Quebec (source: Adviso).
Even now that businesses are reopening, traditional sales in brick-and-mortar locations aren’t expected to bounce back quickly. Consumers are reluctant and a general sense of insecurity prevails. By the time the crisis is over, a certain proportion of in-store sales may have made a definitive shift to online sales and consumer behaviour may be changed for good. In fact, global retail e-commerce sales are expected to double by 2023 (source: Statista).
Consequently, temporary processes implemented to help businesses continue selling products and services during the crisis will become permanent. But they’ll need to become more efficient.
Aligning processes for better consistency
Digital transformation isn’t just about maintaining and pushing sales. If all corporate data and processes are aligned and connected, it can also improve decision making and optimize each step in the value chain.
This isn’t new but now that social distancing is essential, it makes even more sense to reorganize production lines, add automated systems and include connected robots (which have no physical limitations).
Digitizing the customer journey to create a memorable experience
COVID-19 containment measures have forced many retailers and service providers to turn to digital technology to continue driving sales. Those that had already begun the transition before the pandemic quickly found themselves ahead of the competition. Today, all businesses need to consider the digital user experience, whether they need to build it from scratch or rethink their existing assets. It’s essential for protecting their business continuity in the post-COVID-19 era.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to redesign your business model and add digital services. Businesses that can successfully innovate and provide customers with a smooth purchase experience will be able to take advantage of the current situation and increase their market share quickly. The opportunity is there. It’s time to seize it.
Digitizing operations to reduce reliance on humans
Whether the issue is a pandemic or a labour shortage, relying on human resources for most business processes puts companies at risk. If we rely on people, productivity can plummet or operations may even be forced to halt.
From production to distribution, inventory management, stocktaking and costing, all business processes should be connected and automated. Before the crisis, companies were already embracing this shift in order to gain efficiency and work around labour shortages. COVID-19 has only accentuated and accelerated the need for businesses to hop on the digital bandwagon.
Digitizing supply chains to increase agility
Product shortages, logistical constraints, quarantines, delays, new shipping routes, supplier changes… Businesses are currently facing significant supply chain disruptions as a result of the pandemic. These challenges reveal an opportunity for businesses to review their processes and create a more integrated and robust supply chain for the future. This involves digitizing processes from end to end to achieve better visibility and control of the entire chain. A big-picture view allows you to optimize efficiency across the chain and respond quickly to disruptions.
It’s time to face facts. If we want to protect local jobs, supply local markets and stimulate the local economy, our homegrown businesses need to embark on a digital transformation journey. If we don’t embrace digital technology, consumers simply look somewhere else. Ease of doing business trumps all.