COVID-19 Hastened Digital Transformation; How Businesses Can Keep Up

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COVID-19 Hastened Digital Transformation; How Businesses Can Keep Up
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The global pandemic forced businesses to put an even greater emphasis on technology to reach customers, interact with employees, and handle any number of other issues.

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Now there’s no retreating, and those businesses that hope to enjoy continued success must keep their forward momentum going even after COVID-19 fades from the nation’s collective consciousness, says Sri Manchala, the ForbesBooks author of Crossing the Digital Fault Line: 10 Rules of Highly Successful Leaders in Digitalization.

Acceleration In The Pace Of Digital Transformation

“Even before COVID-19 hit worldwide, companies were struggling to understand the why, what, when, and how of digital transformations,” says Manchala, who is CEO of Trianz, a highly specialized digital transformation services firm.

“And while the pandemic accelerated the pace of digital transformation and left many companies faltering, it’s not too late for them to get in the game. They just can’t wait too much longer.”

He says the leaders of those businesses will need to be more daring about stepping outside their comfort zones. That’s because true digital transformation involves understanding customer behavior, reimagining products and services, and delivering high-velocity, digitalized experiences to all stakeholders, even if that calls for discarding existing models.

Manchala says some things to expect in coming years include:

  • The Technology Industry Will Disrupt Even Faster

Tech companies have been encroaching into numerous industries for decades. Prominent examples include Amazon in retail, Netflix in entertainment, and PayPal in payment processing. “The encroachment so far has mostly been in transactional and easy-to-understand consumer markets,” Manchala says. “In the next wave, high-tech will be launching businesses in areas where problems are larger and yet to be solved. For example, using analytics and algorithms, tech companies are beginning to report breakthroughs in the medical field. If their approach to link genetics with diseases works, it will lead to the early detection, treatment, and prevention of birth defects. This pattern of using technology to rethink problems will up-end every industry soon.”

  • Businesses That Worry More About Customers Will Do Better Than Competition

When COVID initially forced people into isolation, they began to spend more time in the digital world, whether shopping, connecting with friends, seeking entertainment, gaming, or pursuing hobbies. The more time people spend on their devices, Manchala says, the less they interact with businesses in person. “The shift is non-linear and permanent. Customers now demand the highest ROTI or ‘return on time invested’ from anything they buy or consume,” he says. “Given how few companies in any industry truly understand this change, it is not the competition but customers that matter. The companies that do understand will rapidly change their products, services, value, and experiences. They will not have to worry about their competition.”

  • Only Companies That Use Data And Analytics For Strategy Will Succeed

At the beginning of COVID, data and analytics simply helped make sense of volatility in revenues, demand, and supply, Manchala says. “The idea was to make quick adjustments to minimize financial losses and transition employees to remote working,” he says. “However, the shifts in customer behavior, industry technologies, and global competition are accelerating and continuous. Companies that use analytics to understand these shifts will first change their strategy, value propositions, and priorities. This data-driven realignment sets the stage for a reinvention.”

Conclusion

In a post-COVID world, the breadth and speed of digital transformation might seem overwhelming, but Manchala says there’s no need to be ruled by a sense of hopelessness – it begins with accepting this new reality and its pace.

“Leaders who are calm and composed but aggressive in their approach are the ones who will succeed,” Manchala says. “The only way to beat the ‘future shock’ from digitalization is to methodically confront, predict, outsmart, and shape the change it causes.”


About the Author

Sri Manchala, the ForbesBooks author of Crossing the Digital Fault Line: 10 Rules of Highly Successful Leaders in Digitalization, is the CEO of Trianz, a highly specialized digital-transformation services firm headquartered in Silicon Valley and serving clients globally. Manchala shares data-driven insights on transformations and adaptive business leadership based on his two and a half decades in the technology industry, and leadership experience in the military and as a CEO. Manchala is a graduate of the National Defense Academy, an elite training academy for India’s Armed Forces officers, where he served in the infantry and Parachute Regiment (Special Forces). He is also an alumnus of the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, where he is now a corporate advisory board member.

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