Instead of moving ‘back towards normality’, businesses should look forward to digital transformation in order to excel in challenging times.
The business world pre-COVID19 was a very different place. The rapidity and breadth of changes that we have witnessed since the onset of lockdown in March is huge. Businesses acted swiftly to protect staff and customers. Organisations were forced to make significant changes to the way they were run, overnight.
With COVID-19 restrictions in full force, many businesses around the globe reprioritised their offerings. As customer behaviour changed rapidly it was left up to individual organisations to discover how to survive in this new online-first reality.
The past few months have been incredibly tough for all businesses. Even those more progressive in their level of digital transformation, have struggled. But what has become apparent, for all involved, is the uncertainly surrounding the pandemic, its trajectory and the restrictions it brings. This means that many businesses are beginning to look at digital transformation as a headline priority for this year, working on from the emergency remedies put in place during lockdown.
Some digitally savvy companies have quickly developed new technologies, or even repurposed existing technology. They have used the pandemic as a catalyst for change and propelled themselves in new digital directions. This being achieved in a timeframe which would not have been feasible under ‘more normal’ circumstances. With the recent ‘Global Web Index Coronavirus Research Report’ finding that levels of concern about COVID19 are now dropping in almost all markets globally, enterprises must act now to develop long term strategies to make sure they are fully equipped for the recovery stage of the pandemic and beyond.
Was your business traditionally ‘bricks and mortar’ only? Or purely focused on physical face to face interactions? The onset of COVID19 will have meant quick fire changes for your organisation. Emergency closures of stores and offices meant revenue streams were hit and crisis management strategies were utilised or hastily developed. This time of flux may have meant ‘knee jerk’ digital options were offered to your customers, not fully developed and experimental in nature. Some businesses may have even shut their operations down completely, in the short term, due to lack of a digital alternative.
As a different world takes shape post-COVID19, longer term strategies and digital portfolios need to be re-assessed and re-prioritised. Digital is now a huge part of customer’s lives. Even as lockdown restrictions are lifted, some consumers will still want to shop online and avoid face to face interaction, until COVID19 is firmly in the past. Longer term strategies are a must. If your customers have embraced your new digital service then building a full eCommerce site should be in your plan for 20/21. Businesses will thrive by moving where the customer goes and providing them with a competition-beating digital experience. With traditional buying behaviours on hold for now, investing in a digital future will mean your organisation is protected against further uncertainties the pandemic may bring.
The rapid onset of COVID19 meant that an enterprise’s C-suite were left to make some very difficult decisions. Budgets were frozen or cut in vital cost-saving measures. Stores and offices were closed and some staff furloughed.
A major casualty of the lockdown, traditional retail based outlets with no digital offering, have suffered incredible losses during lockdown. Take Primark as a key example. Their sales plunged from £650 million a month to £0 as they closed their doors with no online business to fall back on. Some have fared even worse, already struggling before the pandemic, huge high street names such as Victoria’s Secret, Oasis, Warehouse and Debenhams have called in the administrators.
In the short term, management reigned in the spending but as we move to the recovery phase of the pandemic, it is important that budgets are now revitalised, with digital activity prioritised. This will mean a shift in mind-set from some of those at the top, where digital transformation may have been resisted or slow before the pandemic.
A key approach to make sure that budgets are secured is making sure that business stakeholders at all levels are involved and on-board with the digital revolution. Where some may still argue that they are not a ‘digital-centric’ business, it is important to instil the message that whilst your organisation may not be traditionally digital, you are a ‘customer-centric’ business. A business that is driven by customer behaviour, and if the customer is moving online, so must the business.
This will mean a change in financial budgets and investment in worthwhile customer-centric technology. Digital marketing tools, systems and processes will become more cost effective as more customers are online only. Investment at this stage will again protect the overall business as we move into recovery and allow income streams to continue to flow if further lockdowns are implemented.
As the globe went into lockdown, immediate business concerns included the need to gather information to allow understanding of how customers and other business were responding. This included evaluating how buyer behaviours were changing, listening to the market and then working out tentative steps to get businesses up and running again in the new reality. Information gathering was required, but now is the time to use the data to understand how your business can come back stronger and smarter, redefining digital activity within your sector,
Utilising a range of digital tools can and will make business easier and allow your organisation to move successfully into a new phase of digital development. At enterprise level, re-evaluating your digital strategy should be a priority. If you don’t have a digital strategy, now is the time to implement one.
Making sure you have the best possible tools in place will allow your organisation to move forward at pace. Software with the ability to capture and analyse customer data allows your business to understand user’s behaviour on a macro or micro level. Utilising a platform like Sitecore will allow your organisation to deliver memorable, competition beating experiences across a range of sectors with ease.
Making sure your CMS platform is performing for your business is vitally important in a recovering global economy. Ambitious organisations are now focusing on providing world-class customer experiences, which increase conversions and drive businesses forward in times of uncertainty. The brands that are able to successfully integrate digital transformation into their company DNA will thrive and advance their business in highly challenging times.
If your organisation was seeking improvements to its digital productivity and customer engagement before the onset of COVID19, these issues have probably increased ten-fold over lockdown.
If you’re unsure which direction your organisation’s digital strategy needs to take, don’t worry we’re here to help. At Kagool we have long understood the need for digital transformation in business. We’re a Sitecore Platinum Partner, and have teams of digital transformation experts ready to help your organisation move forward at this difficult time. We can help you leverage technology, not only to drive your business forward but provide your customers with a world-class experience.