Digital transformation in the face of a global crisis

Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights activist Desmond Tutu once said, "A time of crisis is not just a time of anxiety and worry. It gives a chance, an opportunity, to choose well or to choose badly."

Today, we face multifaceted crises on a global scale. As I write this, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that COVID-19 has infected over 1.14 million people worldwide. This figure is now almost double that reported by the WHO on the day I wrote the first outline of this piece, one week ago.

COVID-19 has caused almost one-third of the global population to be placed on some form of lockdown. That means that almost 2.6 billion people across the globe are in isolation or quarantine. These rapid changes and the extreme measures taken to control the virus over the past 90 days have certainly been an opportunity for governments, business leaders and members of society to make choices that will impact countries, organizations and communities for years to come.

The most remarkable change during these troubling times has been the wave of digitalization that has been swiftly implemented throughout the world. We have information about the global pandemic and its resulting economic and societal impacts instantly available to us via various channels. With a few clicks of a mouse, the tapping of a screen, or the pushing of a button, individuals around the world are connected through these trying times of isolation.

Businesses have been hard-hit. Economies will suffer. We face recessions across most arenas internationally, and the way in which we react to today's crises will pave the way for months, even years to come. The World Economic Forum states that Q1 "saw the most brutal global equity collapse since the Great Depression".

To risk quoting an overused adage, "Hindsight is 20/20", I'd like to point out that, in 2020, business leaders have a unique opportunity to assess their current situations, compare these experiences to worldwide trends, and act swiftly to mitigate the risks that we face in the months to come. How will we do this? Through continuing with the global trend of digitalization and, more specifically, digital transformation.

Digital transformation, is the overarching movement towards leveraging technology in order to change our core business practices so that we can be more successful, with higher profitability and growth rates. It forces us to ask ourselves as business leaders, "What is technology capable of, and how can we adapt the way we do business so that we make the most of our technology investments?"

Recently, entrepreneur Andrew Filey wrote an article in Forbes stating that the COVID-19 pandemic will be a turning point for digital transformation, in that there will be a discrete "before" and "after" in the way we digitally transform our businesses.

In October 2018, the MGI conducted a global survey on digital transformations in organizations. From the organizations that reported successes with digital transformation, they compiled a list of 21 best practices which fall into five categories: leadership, capability building, empowering workers, upgrading tools, and communication. These can be further narrowed down to three main guidelines:

1. Develop strategies to redefine your workplace. COVID-19 has taught us that many of us can work from home, if we are given the necessary tools, and have the skills and capabilities in which to carry out our work.       

2. Change the overall culture of the organization. We have had to implement many changes over the past few weeks, including the upgrading of tools and processes, more agile operating models, and letting go of old leadership practices.

3. Improve the way in which the organization communicates. This is not limited to internal communications, but also encompasses how we communicate to customers. MGI states that we need to "get more creative" with the channels we use, and move towards interactive platforms instead of one-way communications.

The cloud is the foundation for our new, agile business world; empowering businesses on the digital transformation journey. Cloud-based infrastructure is the key to delivering flexible, on-demand access to the resources underpinning these new digital business offerings. It allows organizations to scale infrastructure as needed to support changing business priorities, while reducing the risks of wasted IT resources that inhibited past investments in new digital services.

The way in which your business reacts to the various impacts of COVID-19 through digital transformation is going to determine your success in the months to come; moreover, it will determine whether your business survives the pandemic right now, and whether it will be strong enough to grow in a feasible manner in future.

Fraxion can assist you on your journey of digital transformation. Contact us for digital transformation and spend management advice - our true cloud procurement software is remotely deployable, enables remote work and provides complete operational spend control and visibility.

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