21 April 2020 Luke Goldsworthy

Coronavirus and Digital Transformation

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world in a few short months. While it will leave many negative legacies, one positive is the acceleration of the adoption of digital transformation in businesses.

Twenty years ago you would have thought it impossible that the world’s biggest transport company wouldn’t own a car, the world’s largest accommodation provider wouldn’t own property, or that the number one media company wouldn’t create any content. The changes brought about by digital transformation in business will be just as great.

With restrictions on everything from travel and work to education and entertainment, we’ve turned to digital tools to help a semblance of normal life continue. Businesses that are able to shift online ahead of their competitors will be the big winners during this crisis and after it ends.

There are two aspects for businesses to consider in digital transformation: enabling staff to work remotely, and the provision of their goods and services online.

Working remotely can be a significant advantage for employees, though many businesses lack both the technological infrastructure and the company culture to support this. With COVID-19 this has to change, at least temporarily, and it is likely the experience will prove that work can be done effectively remotely and it will be incorporated to some extent in most future working arrangements.

“The stakes for digital transformation have increased dramatically,” Marco Iansiti and Greg Richards wrote in the Harvard Business Review. “Now, digitizing the operating architecture of the firm is not simply a recipe for higher performance, but much more fundamental for worker employment and public health. This is creating a new digital divide that will deepen fractures in our society. The firms that cannot change overnight will be left way behind, exposing their employees to increased risk of financial and physical distress.”

For several years businesses have recognised eCommerce as a crucial sales channel, but now we are seeing services that were previously considered to be almost exclusively face-to-face being delivered online due to necessity. Three examples of this are telehealth, eLearnings and events.

In late March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced $669 million in funding for telehealth, supporting the ability of health professionals, such as GPs, psychologists and psychiatrists, to provide consultations over the phone or on video. Not only does this provide easier access to care for patients, but it also protects health professionals from exposure to the virus.

Similarly, eLearning is not new – accessing lecture recordings and course readings online has been part of educational delivery for over a decade – but now universities have been forced to move their entire offering digitally. Additionally, primary and secondary schools, which had limited experience with eLearning are also embracing its potential.

Finally, with conference centres, cinemas, theatres and musical venues shut, the events industry has had to look to digital transformation. Conferences alone are a trillion-dollar industry, and this year in quick succession we saw the cancellation of the likes of the Adobe Summit, Google I/O, Microsoft’s MVP Summit, IBM’s Think, TED and SxSW. These events aren’t as easy to take online with webinars and live streams, because crucial to their success is networking more than the content. But startups are beginning to think of novel solutions, such as running an algorithm over attendee profiles to arrange virtual “cocktail party” video calls, or through features that complement random connections.

The key takeaway is that no matter what your business, there are probably several aspects of it that can be aided by digital transformation, whether that’s through supporting remote work for your staff, and/or providing your goods and services to customers online.

Now is the perfect time to make those changes.

Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any eCommerce questions you may have.

We are here for you throughout this crisis.