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June 2, 2020 5 min read

Post-Covid-19 business strategies: can you drive permanent change?


How the pandemic is accelerating digital transformation.  

The pandemic-driven rapidity with which organisations worldwide have had to adapt their operations begs the question: should we have been ready for it? The Covid-19 era has had a catalytic and unique impact on the global economy, with demand, supply and workforce availability all affected at the same time resulting in a need for acceleration of digital transformation. A recent report that surveyed 100+ IT managers suggests a sudden shift of priorities to digital transformation, with over 58% expecting to increase technology budgets. Even with the economic turbulence and spending slowdown, 73% of IT leaders expect to accelerate or maintain their digital initiatives.

According to McKinsey Digital, the crisis will continue to speed up digital transformation efforts with a major impact on the business landscape. Even before Covid-19 hit, 92% of companies thought their business models would need to change given digitisation. McKinsey also suggests that organisations ask themselves these questions to get an idea of how they'll perform post-Covid:

  1. Do you have a clear view of where the value is going to be and a road map that will get you there?
    Digital initiatives might have already been on the cards, but is there a clear strategy behind them? Accelerating digital transformation means business leaders need to take a step back and reassess their road maps - the coordinated and detailed plans for what needs to be done, by whom and when, from the leadership level down to the front line
  2. How can you lock in the benefits of a more agile operating model to increase the metabolic rate of your business?
    Start building support for agile now, by looking at how adopting digital strategies have improved the work already, and by identifying processes and incentives that can hardwire the benefits.
  3. What investments are the most necessary to create the technology environment that will allow your company to thrive in the next normal?
    Covid-19 has emphasised the crucial role technology plays, but despite what some organisations have accomplished in terms of digital transformation, setbacks have highlighted systemic weaknesses. Businesses need to identify what systems can drive the greatest value for their business, particularly around customer relationships, data sharing, and intellectual property— key sources of advantage in the digital age.

"At this point, where it is critical for enterprises to rapidly respond and remain sustainable, digital transformation has emerged to be the silver lining. The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of digital transformation to navigate through the implications of such a crisis. It has clear lessons for enterprises urging them to quickly revisit their digitalisation strategies for more business resilience."

Kiran Raj, Principal Disruptive Tech Analyst at GlobalData

At Optimation, what we're seeing here in New Zealand is a reactive response to Covid-19. We’ve observed that businesses that have managed to stay ahead of the competition were those that were proactive about their digital initiatives before the pandemic.

Some strategies successful businesses in NZ have prioritised to maintain operational resilience include:

  • The way that organisations deal and transact with their customers
  • Delivering the same service at a lower cost - particularly for those businesses that have taken a significant financial hit
  • The need to alter their offering, so that it's more flexible and can suit their customers' changing circumstances
  • The need to question whether the applications, platforms and solutions businesses use have served them well before, during and post-Covid

Platforms that struggled to cope, teams that got stretched, negative impact due to lack of automation - these are all areas that need to be re-evaluated sooner rather than later. The goal must be switching to systems and processes that can deal with a pandemic or similar situation that drives negative change at pace, forcing a focus on business continuity strategy.

That strategy should also consider the constraints a business may be facing, such as lack of resources, lack of people, or the wrong technology tools. For those organisations, there are options they can consider when going digital, and outsourcing software development to a third party that makes use of rapid application development tools is one. Key insights that leaders should consider going forward include:

  • Doubling down on digital projects and IT technology spending – with a focus on technology that betters consumer experience, and team collaboration
  • Renewing investments in security, cloud technology, and managed services providers to ensure that your organisations’ mission-critical services remain stable
  • Delivering business value by launching high-impact, low-effort solutions and proactively managing spending
  • Getting creative to manage costs – strategic partnerships with third-party vendors that can rapidly build and deploy solutions that can support and enhance your business-as-usual operations

At Optimation, we use OutSystems' low code/ no-code approach to agile software development. This approach prioritises swift software solutions. For example, over a period of only four days, Optimation were able to ideate, design and develop a virtual workplace demonstration app for a particular organisation looking for a contactless solution for site inspections. We were able to develop it seamlessly on the OutSystems platform, and it's able to be deployed using cloud technology, meaning that's it's a very powerful example of how quickly we can turn around ideas and swiftly create bespoke, fully secure solutions.

Although a response to Covid-19, this solution is a good example of the new digital paradigm; it's technology that will enable processes to be streamlined and to gain efficiencies for organisations through the pandemic and beyond.

We have not seen the end of the crisis. Nor do we know exactly when the recovery will come. Now more than ever, businesses need to double down on their digital efforts, and do it fast. The more effort that's put in now, the better placed they’ll be for growth during the crisis, after it, and for whatever challenges the future holds.

If you're keen to learn more about the importance of swift digital transformation, download our new eBook, Need for Speed: Why rapid software deployment is key for New Zealand business transformation now and beyond Covid-19