By Vikas Bhonsle
The COVID pandemic is being anticipated to create a world economy crisis that shall hit $1 trillion in 2020 alone. For companies this will result in shifting priorities by hour and upheaval in several industries and markets.
As most organizations have by now addressed the issues of the safety, health, and wellness of employees, it is now only natural for the leaders to design a meticulous future-proof business continuity blueprint for the upcoming unfamiliar times.
In the beginning of this year, most organizations did not factor a widespread and prolonged remote work and related disruptions into their continuity plan. Returning to ‘normal’ as quickly as possible sounds great, but that ‘normal’ is now constantly changing. Instead, companies must adapt and become responsive to constant change, including enabling remote work and variable scheduling, to the best of their abilities.
Only-Digital is the new normal
Post-pandemic, the digital transformation which was initially considered as part of the innovation project has overnight turned into a business continuity requirement that will allow individuals to work from anywhere. It is now a component that needs to be expedited in order to keep pace with the obstacles thrown up by the pandemic response itself.
After enabling telecommuting and digital collaboration tools to ensure continuity in internal systems, IT leaders face the task of transforming the organizations. In doing so, the decisions made today are going to define the baseline on how to respond to future changes in operating approaches.
With the aim of assuring business continuity, a few areas are critical while going for a complete digitization process. Here pace and agility is of paramount importance. Many times, an organization has several digital tools running for different purposes; however, none of them are integrated together. It is time that leaders realize that rapid digital transformation efforts can be achieved only with complete interoperability among the applications and hence the integrations amongst the digital platforms, software’s and solutions must be in place and rather be performed ahead of time so that they do not affect the cadence of the project.
This also applies for the data generated from all digital platforms that remain in silos. Information that cannot be accessed usefully by other parts of the business often may as well not exist. Usually, clearing data silos only when a problem arises in the transformation efforts will not keep pace with the requirements of an evolving situation. Data in silos may cause blockages and interrupt digital transformation processes; hence it is important to run concurrent programs to get rid of these silos prior.
As right now we are in an urgent and critical phase, it is natural that the focus is generally directed towards running systems, departments and business units. For the CIOs and IT leaders who have a technical background, this is especially true.
However, CIOs and CTOs must remember that this is also the time to position a customer-centric approach as they are the most crucial part of the business, in the middle of the digital transformation plan. Every technical decision should proceed from a strategic impetus to either discover or meet the changing needs of customers.
The digital tools must be put to measure and map customer behaviors and journeys. Digital tools usually generate a great amount of data that should be available widely in a usable form, and hence it must be taken care that digital tools are well integrated across the organization.
In these crisis periods, customers may expect more support from companies than the normal times. Real-time, accurate information, on supply chain visibility, accurate real-time inventory and frictionless communication of digital service offerings through digital channels will also be a priority.
Ensuring proactive communication with customers will be paramount so optimizing systems that communicate orders status and other important information should be near the top of the priority list.
It is already being a challenging phase and to expect teammates to handle more uncertainties is a lot to ask. Upcoming times will bring real challenges in terms of changing nature of work, processes which might be increasing difficulty and fewer resources to perform it. This is the time that organizations ensure that the workers do not burn out with exhaustions. As the working team is the biggest asset for any organization, when it comes to digital transformation, companies need to take care of the team and help them in upgrading their skills accordingly.
Any strategy, be it digitization or otherwise must be clearly communicated to the entire team. There must be a stress management program in place, especially when work dynamics are changing and the workplace is now moved to the residences. Thus, to engage some extra support at crucial moments is going to be vital to completing the digital transformation projects that will allow the company to navigate the current crisis and thrive in the new normal that follows.
(The author is the CEO of Crayon India and the views expressed in the article are his own)