As well as costing millions of lives, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the world’s economy. Although vaccines are now rolling out around the world, even though that’s at a different tempo depending on the country, enterprises are cautiously hoping that they are past the worst, and are looking forward to recovery.
But they aren’t out of the woods yet. It’s true that consumers are returning to the stores, but the business outlook remains uncertain. Many companies are still adjusting to remote work, and dealing with a round of layoffs which undermined company morale and left employees unsure about their current responsibilities. Access to working capital remains restricted, and supply chains and logistics threads are still settling down again.
In 2020, over 75% of companies ramped up their tech spending to support remote work and protect their assets from cyber attacks. As a result, in 2021 they are focusing on proving RoI on last year’s expenditures and are reluctant to shell out for new tools unless their value is clear, which creates a difficult sales environment. Only 27% of CEOs feel confident that they’ll see revenue increase over the next 12 months.
In this climate, enterprises need all the help they can get to remain competitive. COVID-19
accelerated digital transformation across every industry by an average of 7 years, but many companies took a haphazard approach, forced into it by the need to support remote work and contact-free customer interactions. With the world feeling its way towards “normal,” a number of organizations might be tempted to abandon the disruption of the past 15-18 months and try to return to their old familiar groove.
But that would be a mistake. Digital transformation is the key not just to surviving, but to thriving in the post-COVID economy, even if some companies are still struggling their way along the road towards it.
Digital transformation helps you meet customer expectations
There’s no way to turn the clock back on customer expectations, which now include remote interactions, self-serve portals, and on-demand digital experiences. More than three-quarters of consumers prefer to use mobile or online payments now, and 84% of CEOs are pinning their hopes on digital initiatives to bolster profits, so enterprises are going to have to deliver, or fall behind. It’s estimated that customer loyalty has dropped by 82%, so even established and loyal customers will switch to the competition if you can’t meet their demands.
B2B buyers are no exception, with more of them adopting a self-guided purchase journey that takes in more self-service touchpoints and includes a sales representative far later in the process.
At the same time, your buyers want more human interactions, which ironically enough rely on better digital solutions. Digital platforms can take over tedious, time consuming tasks, freeing up employees to focus more on customer relationships. They also support smoother internal communications, enabling customer support representatives to share information so they can provide customer support that feels like a single uninterrupted conversation, no matter how many agents and channels it crosses.
Digital transformation increases talent retention and engagement
Your employees are the backbone of your business. The biggest paycheck in the world is never enough to keep them engaged, enthusiastic, and motivated, but an effective digital transformation can go a long way.
Digital HR solutions use artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and augmented reality (AR) to match talent with new challenges and facilitate more effective employee training, including in “soft skills” that are hard to teach. When your employees can climb the corporate ladder easily, enhance their professional capabilities, acquire new skills and dust off latent ones, they’re a lot less likely to jump ship. Opening up growth opportunities for employees within the company means they don’t need to look elsewhere.
Additionally, a year of remote work left many employees eager for more. One study found that 97.6% of employees working from home want to continue that way at least part of the time. That means that digital tools that enable remote collaboration, communication, and secure document sharing aren’t going anywhere.
Your employees want a flexible workplace that allows them to work the hours that are convenient for their lifestyles and combine time in the office with working from home. More workers today are planning work-ations, where they enjoy an extended holiday working from the beach, the mountains, or an exciting new city. You can’t afford to lose your top talent to a more accommodating employer who’s willing to meet their needs.
Develop better business strategy
Foresight is everything in business, no matter what your vertical, and digital transformation gives you the long-range vision to spot emerging risks and opportunities and develop a more proactive business strategy.
Digitally transformed companies have removed the silos between departments to gather and share data across the entire organization, with horizontal integration that permits departments to share insights and work together more smoothly.
Big data can then be fed into advanced analytics tools that use AI and ML to produce more accurate predictions. Reliable forecasting enables enterprises to get ahead of nascent trends, prepare to seize upcoming opportunities, and get ready to mitigate or head off threats while they’re still on the distant horizon. Additionally, a deeper, granular understanding of customer needs and pain points means that companies can prepare the right customized solutions that match the market.
The path to success lies through digital transformation
By embracing digital transformation and ramping up digital solutions, enterprises are able to roll out better customer experiences that meet new consumer demands, provide the advanced training and talent opportunities that employees are looking for, deliver flexible working conditions that enhance productivity, and dig deep into big data to understand and preempt customer demands. Digital transformation might be a challenge, but it’s no longer optional if you want to succeed.
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