The fallout from COVID-19 continues to shift our worldview and how we interact. The workplace, in particular, is one area that has faced significant transformation. Companies of all types and sizes were forced to accelerate digital transformation to survive. But, like hanging onto a speeding train, we’ve had to find a way to make it work for us or risk falling off.
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is the process of integrating technology into all aspects of business operations. When fully implemented, it requires companies to abandon manual methodologies and adapt workflows around digital tools.
Business processes ripe for digital transformation include communications, customer relationship management, marketing, sales, accounting, content management, document management, file sharing, and more.
Beyond process automation, digital transformation also enables precise business intelligence, helping companies understand their customers—and their employees—in ways that would only have been speculative before.
Digitization facilitates growth at scale. It transforms businesses from the inside out, helping them become more agile and adaptable—a critical attribute, given the past year’s events.
Today’s Digital Workplace
In the wake of pandemic-driven closures and restrictions, companies that could made the switch to remote work. In many cases, remote working was already happening on a limited basis, so the infrastructure existed; it was just a matter of scaling the idea to accommodate the entire workforce as opposed to a select few. The right technology made it work.
From video conferencing to Kanban boards, messaging platforms, CRM, CMS, virtual desktops, and more, we discovered that most types of work could be done from home reliably. As a result, companies saw significant cost reductions. Productivity soared, along with team morale, proving the viability of the digital workforce.
Perhaps most importantly, digital transformation enabled operations to continue “as usual” without any interruption to business continuity.
The Challenges of Working From Home
Along with the benefits of digital transformation, there were concerns. Working from home wasn’t always easy for some, especially if they had children or didn’t have a dedicated workspace. Employers had to step up to ensure workers felt valued, and many implemented new policies to ensure work-life balance.
While a complete digital transformation was essential to making it all work, a human touch was always required. Managers, team leaders, and HR had to approach their jobs with finesse and empathy.
Data security became another significant concern. With so many people working from home, outside company firewalls, and often on shared devices, protecting the network was critical. In addition to productivity and communication apps, security protocols needed to be established and enforced at all endpoints, from the desktop to the cloud, and every point in between.
How Customers Adapted
Beyond the workplace, the value of digital transformation resonates directly in customer response and behaviors. With store closures, lockdowns, and stay-at-home orders in place, consumers and business customers alike had little choice but to rely on digital services for their needs—and here’s where we separate the digital laggards from the herd.
If digital services were unavailable through one vendor, the customer would move on to a competitor. Companies that do digital well have thrived, grown their customer base, and even improved through the crisis, proving the value of a seamless customer experience.
Onwards and Upwards
Though the past year has challenged all of us in myriad ways, we have survived and grown in ways we couldn’t have predicted. Employees and customers alike have adapted to digital selling, buying, and communicating, and we’ve learned much in the process—about ourselves, our colleagues, employers, employees, and customers. But, perhaps most poignantly, we have discovered that our online digital future is bright—provided we have the right tools.