The crisis is wreaking havoc in all spheres of our lives. One thing is clear: the pandemic will change the way we work, consume and interact with businesses for a substantial period of time.
We already see that companies that follow a purely offline model are extremely vulnerable to outages. Without a way to interact with customers and monitor changes in their needs, they risk being overtaken by more agile competitors.
So the best thing you can do now is to embrace change and use this crisis as a force to transform your digital business.
What is digital transformation and why should you care?
In practice, this means using technology to:
Optimize internal workflows and business processes;
Build new products to better meet the needs of your customers
Remove the value from the data collection and analysis.
Each of these approaches can offer massive benefits, yet the most successful companies combine all three to dominate their markets.
Even before the outbreak, 85% of C-level executives admitted that they only had 2 years to integrate digital technologies before being overtaken by competitors.
And while larger businesses have been involved in all sorts of digital endeavors, most SMEs have found that a simple landing page is enough to run a successful offline business.
Now we see that this is not true.
As consumers are forced to stay home, their phones and the internet have become the only way to interact with businesses. And while some large companies have enough resources to wait for the crisis, smaller companies must act immediately or they will lose contact with customers forever.
The current crisis is, of course, unique, but many industries have undergone similar changes on a smaller scale.
Some time ago people stopped reading newspapers. Book sales have dropped significantly. However, the publishing industry has managed to adapt to a new reality.
Business Perspectives was a small publishing house specializing in academic writing.
As the industry underwent a massive change, printed journals could neither attract famous scientists nor reach a small local audience.
After publishing a catalogue of articles in PDF format, the company needed a modern e-commerce solution to generate money from traffic.
Using the website as a plan, I translated reading and purchasing scientific journals into a 100% digital experience. Now users can pay for the entire journal, buy individual items, or rent them at a lower price.
Since its launch, more than 450,000 articles have been downloaded from the platform.
However, this increase revealed another problem.
Publishing a scientific article requires a lot of effort. Before reaching a wider audience, a manuscript must go through a complex 8-step review process. At each stage, it can be rejected or returned to the author for revisions. This required a lot of manual action and a lot of emails between authors, publishers and reviewers.
Digital transformation: 4 key aspects
Transformation is not just about technology. Adapting to the crisis requires a complex approach that affects all aspects of your business.
- Business model
Many organizations engage in all kinds of digital projects without touching the business structure that underlies them.
As a result, they are just as vulnerable to outages as non-digital companies.
The first thing you should consider before transforming your business is values and strategy.
When faced with the threat of outage, companies can:
Withdrawn / become super-niche.
Block disruptive threats.
Try to win the disruptor market; or
Interrupt your own business model and create new markets.
- The customer’s journey
As never before, you need to be closer to your customers.
People are getting used to interconnect digital products and are constantly improving their functionality. Now, it is common to offer a perfect experience in a number of self-service channels: mobile applications, websites and social networks.
Digitizing a customer journey can be as simple as creating an online storefront for a mom-and-pop store or as complex as creating a cloud-based sustainability reporting tool.
And data is the thing that allows you to gain a deeper perspective on your customers and make educated strategic decisions.
In addition to systematically using analytics to better understand your customers, a company should establish a data-driven culture to continually experiment with your products and strategy, as explained in the following paragraphs.
According to Eric Ries, most features of most products are simply dead weight. This is because we make assumptions about our customers and then take big risks by building products we think we need.
Many established companies are now affected by inefficient workflows and bulky old systems. This greatly limits growth opportunities.
One of our clients is a top recruitment company in Western Europe. They used a 12-year-old system to manage job interviews and candidates. The solution had a rather outdated user interface and could no longer meet the company’s needs.
HR managers had to manually search through dozens of recruitment platforms to find job seekers and keep their profiles up to date.
To solve these problems, we designed a new solution that allowed our client to stay ahead of the competition.
After each crisis, the world becomes quite different from what we are used to. And every time, companies accept the new norm and become innovative to thrive again.
Companies that approach customers and disrupt their existing business model will emerge from the crisis stronger and more resilient than before. We hope your company is one of them and we wish you good luck on your journey to transform your business.
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