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COVID - 19 - Redefining Digital Transformation Priorities

Since the onset of the new year 2020, we all have been spectating the unfurling of the pandemic, COVID - 19. With each day, the contagion is expanding its reach to every possible community and geography, disrupting economic, social and work lives while re-defining the ways of living and working. Be it the ways of remote working or simple living or innovation-led collaboration, COVID -19 seems to have changed the fundamental definitions of some of the BAU operations.  

Speaking of changes, while COVID-19 havoc has been limitless, it has forced enterprises to re-define the go-to-market strategies for sustenance and survival. The lockdown amalgamated with social distancing norms that forced some of the small enterprises or traditional businesses to give away conventional ways of personal touch-based selling. No longer are those days when people will hurdle up in a queue for their favorite coffee or a burger. Time for new and renew maneuvers!

This article touches upon some of the methods and mantras which enterprises are embedding into their digital transformation journeys for successfully evading the raging effects of COVID - 19.

Go online - While this trend has been there for the last few years not many have explored the full breadth of the capabilities. An online catalog aided with the online purchase and delivery options will continue to gather attention and action. With closed retail stores and outlets and the rising need for contactless payment and delivery options, even smaller enterprises have begun shifting to e-commerce capabilities. For example - gymnasiums have gone online with online aerobics and exercise programs to meet the needs of new customers as well as renew the ties with old customers.

Zero touch technologies like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Sensors - In these times of social distancing, zero or minimal touch sounds like music. Be it exploring a machine breakdown or calculating the lease amount of the vehicle or having a sensor-based smart home, zero-touch technologies like Sensor aided operations, Augmented Reality based virtual analysis will help keep up with the norms of social distancing and contactless execution. For example - a screenshot of the machine could detail out the level of failures using Augmented Reality feature set thereby avoiding the need for touch or travel.

Automation will continue to shine - While this trend has been ever alive, it will continue to shine in newer forms like GPS tracking of orders/employees, sensor-based health tracking of technicians, event-based communications to customers, drone-based data collection etc. For example - an insurance company could leverage drones-based data/pictures collection for facilitating the insurance claim, thereby avoiding touch and travel.  

Data/AI powered analysis/forecasts/predictions will rule - In these tough times, this trend will capture more attention and implementation. Data mining aided with intelligent AI-based analysis will continue to be devoured to understand the market, COVID impact analysis on sales, COVID related forecasts, revenue projections, automated price analysis for inventory usage. Furthermore, this feature will continue to be explored to deliver better customer engagement with personalized suggestions and recommendations while adhering to the rules of COVID - 19.  For example - automotive industries using AI-powered analysis to predict the wear and tear of the vehicle along with the recommended price. Today, even AI-powered tools are helping healthcare firms predict the COVID - 19 reach and needs.

Shift from on-premise/monolithic systems to cloud - Given the new norms of COVID- 19, there will be an increase in cloud-hosted or package solutions. The hassles of infrastructure management especially the physical managed data centers/ servers will be replaced by cloud-based solutions or with concepts like infrastructure-as-a-service. For example - increasingly, customer-facing legacy portals, commerce functions, dealer portals, etc. are being transformed into cloud-based solutions like Salesforce.

Collaboration tools - One of the biggest learning of this situation is 'Strong Collaboration', to stay connected and informed. Organizations and enterprises are investing in collaboration tools to stay connected with employees and customers. Investments into collaboration tools and techniques will continue with solutions like group message boards, live chats, video chats, quip, slack being devoured for exchange of information, key communications, and documentation across and outside the board. For example - a field engineer could resolve small machinery issues over video chat with a customer, avoiding the physical touch or travel.

Data security - In these times, one of the key mantras of 'Go Digital' being explored is anywhere and anytime access. With this comes a huge responsibility for managing the application and data security. Enterprises are exploring ways to secure remote workplaces, compartmentalize the data and views, secure the application, and network access. This area will continue to be explored further for tighter security controls to strike a balance between the remote ways of working and the end customer expectations of hassle/ device/ location free access.   

Social feedbacks/ online reviews - While this sounds like a small feature, in these tough times, businesses want to do their best to better serve their end customers. The focus on processing social reviews/sentiments will continue.

While nothing takes away the personal touch-based interactions, but this is indeed a year of difficult and precarious times within which lifestyle, working, socializing definitions are being reinvented. I grew up listening to a punchline 'Survival of the fittest'. The same aptly applies to all these innovative re-engineering of digital priorities to survive, sustain, and succeed amidst the chaos of COVID - 19.  

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