If there is a message that the Covid-19 pandemic has underscored and emphasised it is the need to make digital transformation a priority across all industries. The good news is that businesses now have fresh motivation, a sense of urgency, and a grand opportunity to future-proof themselves. Since digital transformation is a complex concept, let’s explore what a digital transformation roadmap looks like in a post Covid-19 world.
Map out your recovery core
According to the latest COVID-19 SME Weekly Research Tracker Report by Fifth Quadrant and TEG Insights (week 5), 41% of SMEs in Australia are concerned about their business’ survival.
The good news is that with the right digital transformation strategies, your business can not only survive post covid-19, but actually pivot for the future.
Identify your current business situation
The first step in defining your recovery core is defining what your business’ current situation is. You might have just enough cash flows to keep going for 3 months. Or you might be on the other side — experiencing bloom — a customer or revenue surge. Either way, you need to think about your digital transformation.
If revenue recovery is your priority, then these are the areas that you need to think about according to the McKinsey Rapid Revenue Recovery: A road map for post-COVID-19 growth insights:
As you can see from the above image, once you list the major areas in your revenue recovery, you need to classify them based on the levels of impact that they will have in your business. Areas with the highest impact, for example, those that can help you get revenue in the short term need to be prioritized, as you need cash flow.
Start pivoting for the future
The biggest challenge will be in ensuring that the business stays afloat, as you begin to pivot for the future. Speed is of the essence, and the term ‘agile’ needs to be introduced and defined within your business’ context.
Evaluate your current business model and goals
At the beginning of the year, you had set quarterly, annual and longer term goals. Has Covid-19 changed any of these goals? And how about your business model? Will it be able to steer your business through the uncertain future?
Refine your business model
Refining your business model involves looking at every aspect of your business — operations, the people factor, customers, cashflows, revenue, pricing, and the technological factors.
Start by gathering the right people
Yes you read that right. The right people. Begin by asking yourself how tech savvy you are. Do you understand how digital transformation can help your business? Who is most capable of leading this transformation in your business? And how can you bring the whole team on board?
The agile c-suite
A business’ leadership matters. In comes the agile C-Suite. Yes the C-Suite or its equivalent in an SME need to be at the forefront of creating an agile culture. According to the HBR report titled The Agile C-Suite, you need an agile team in order to lead an agile enterprise.
Check your operations
If you are an ecommerce store for example that has experienced surges in customer orders, your operations have of course been stretched and you may have had to hire more staff or get partners who can help with delivery. An agile team will be able to experiment with outsourcing warehouse services for some of the products.
Study your customer
How did consumer behaviour change due to Covid-19? Are the new trends here to stay?
Data from a McKinsey survey on Australian Consumer Sentiment During the Coronavirus Crisis shows that consumers will continue to opt for online shopping. What does this mean for businesses?
Check your supply chain
Did Covid-19 reveal suppliers that you didn’t know existed, or that are within your locale? How can you work with them more? How about overseas suppliers, what can change or improve? Can you negotiate for better terms locally and overseas?
Look out for automation opportunities
Find areas in your business that can be automated, for example, are there tools that can help with order processing? Are there mundane, time-consuming tasks that technology can handle, for example, inventory tracking?
Think about the future of work
Who on your team can work from home? Can the entire team actually go fully remote? This may give your business a chance to recruit talent from all over the world, rather than spend money opening up offices in every continent. What are the implications of an all remote staff?
Think safety and security
As you think about remote work, think about the security of your data as a company. Think about the health and safety of your workers too. If another pandemic or wave of the SARS attacks, how will you ensure that your employees stay safe?
Find the right technical tools
You need tools that can help with improving customer experiences, for example. What tools do you need to generate data that you can use for decision making? What infrastructure do you need?
Insights from the COVID-19: A time for transformation and thinking for the future publication point to tools that work with the cloud, help with rapid automation, and ‘anything-as-a-service’ as worth investing in.
Artificial intelligence will play a significant role. Here are the top activities that it can help with:
Digital transformation is a journey. There are a lot of moving parts involved, and they need to move concurrently. It is better to get started immediately.
Of importance is that you do not slide back to the ‘old ways’ as Steve Bates, Global leader, KPMG CIO Centre of Excellence, aptly put it, “You have to avoid the tendency to slash and burn your transformation and revert back to your traditional working model, which is human nature.”