The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the global landscape on a massive scale. Social distancing, discouragement of face-to-face interaction, and touching have created new needs that businesses must meet.
Investment in digital transformation can do more than help businesses survive. It will help the world deal with the threat posed by the SARS-COV-2 virus. IT spending and leveraging digital avenues for transaction payments and logistics coordination provide the strongest lifelines for businesses now.
According to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) latest Black Book Forecast: “The escalating coronavirus crisis is already impacting IT markets as buyers and vendors adjust to a new set of assumptions and a new global economic reality.”
Supply chains, trade, and business planning across all industries will feel the impact of the pandemic. “By the end of 2020, in a pessimistic scenario, IT spending could grow by 1% compared to the original forecast of more than 4% growth,” as per IDC. These forecasts are more likely to trend down than up in the next few weeks.
“The virus is physical, not virtual. Going digital is, therefore, the most radical and effective barrier,” said a report on Forbes.
Millions of employees work from home by using their devices to provide services that are still needed. Forbes quoted the University of Sussex director of information technology Jason Oliver: “With the coronavirus, most of our five-year transformation plan had to happen in one week.”
Schools now conduct classes online, for business continuity and so that their students’ educations will not be disrupted more than they already have been by the pandemic.
Retail activity has gone online, with shopping malls and non-essential stores shuttered. In a survey conducted from March 23 to 31, IDC found that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the shopping behavior of 86% of the survey’s 1,515 respondents in the United States. Some 47% of the people surveyed increased the amount of online shopping they do, and 35.4% expect to spend more on retail purchases overall, while 16% expect to spend more than 10% more.
There will also “shift the boundaries on the protection of personal data,” adds a report on Forbes. It expounds that with “barriers to the digital transition being lifted, acceleration will be powerful. It could bring massive efficiency gains. But it’s also going to bring casualties.”
A CMO Network article defines digital transformation this way: “successful digital transformation isn’t just a company’s ability to earn customer relationship metrics. True success lies in a company’s ability to make customer’s lives better—whether those customers are buyers, patients, students, or otherwise.”
It lists telehealth and robotic healthcare, NLP, and chatbots among the areas where digital transformation is creating the most impact.
In its annual CIO Summit series last year, the IDC defined what it is to be “Digitally Determined”. Organizations require a ‘blueprint’ that consists of four key elements. This includes unified enterprise strategy, commitment to organizational and cultural changes, a long-term investment plan based on the principle that digital is inherently valuable to the business, and a single digital platform to scale technology innovations.
“As the digital economy becomes responsible for a growing share of enterprise revenue, it has also become an increasingly important item on the CEO’s agenda,” IDC stressed. The focus is now on Customers, Capabilities, Critical Infrastructure, and Industry Ecosystems.
IDC had then laid out a timeline of three years within which organizations must make the necessary digital transformation. The COVID-19 pandemic puts pressure on that timeline. Organizations that are making the investment in digital transformation are the ones that will make the most difference.