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Are you ready to survive in the new normal?

  • Shahzada Redwan

COVID-19 pandemic has crumbled economies worldwide and it has transformed our world in ways we have never imagined. We need to accept that having to remain isolated and maintain social distancing while we live in today’s world is the new normal, for at least a few years until we have a permanent solution to the pandemic.

There is an internet meme circulating over social media where it is asked who led the digital transformation of your company with multiple choices as answers- (A) CEO, (B) CTO, or (C) COVID-19. We can laugh at this joke and we can also see the hidden satire in it. Looking inwards and reflecting honestly in our respective organizations- are we really ready digitally? Ready enough to claim that yes, we are a complete digital company. For me, one of the good sides of the pandemic has been- forcing everyone to innovate new digital ways to trade. This has helped me convince our management to prioritize and implement technologies which were not discussed or even thought about before the outbreak of COVID-19. It is beyond any argument that the adoption of digital ways to conduct our businesses and enabling ourselves with technology is the only way to survive the new normal.

For any organization,small to large, we can look at digital transformation from two perspectives- one is internal and another is external. What I mean by internal is the readiness of the organization and businesses to accept, assign and complete works digitally. The ways we have been working within physical premises is changing drastically. Nowadays we are all hearing the term Work from Home. Before the pandemic, how many of us have really thought that this could be done and we could try that out successfully? There are many organizations, small to large, whose major workforce is working from home right now and they are doing that quite successfully while there are companies who arestruggling every day to continue their operations. Even when the pandemic is over, many CEOs and entrepreneurs are considering the possibilities of keeping work from home to continue in their respective organizations because it provides them leverage in minimizing their costs in maintaining a physical presence. If organizations are able to serve half of their customers through digital channels, it would make the management consider reducing the huge recurring costs in physical infrastructure. For having work from home implemented, the organization needs to have simple solutions in place which enable its employees to punch in remotely, get jobs assigned to them, and performances measured digitally. Here one of the major concerns of management is to ensure the proper accountability of the employees. There are many ways one could achieve that like deploying automatic measurements of work hours and monitoring the employees working from home, etc. The performances can be measures based on the completion of tasks and projects. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to measure performances when all activities are assigned, recorded, monitored, and measured digitally? It would make the organization become more result-oriented than process-oriented. Another challenge in work from home setting is having collaboration among team members. This can also be achieved by utilizing various digital technologies in order to ensure the participation of team members in various projects, following up with teammates, and sharing updates over collaboration tools, messengers, and video calls. All of these can be achieved through the implementation of appropriate tools and technologies such as productivity apps, online messengers, video calling solutions, task management, work from home trackers, etc.

Addressing the external, the organization must have its digital channels enabled and made them accessible to everyone so that their customers can reach out for any assistance in applying for a service, completing registration online, and getting the service delivered digitally. Organizations have to consider the user journey and experience while customers do that, whether the website is up to date with the latest technologies and information, is the app designed to give the best experience to its users, is the customer able to pay digitally, whether the customer can reach out over email, messengers, social media or any other digital means if there are issues to be taken care of. This is a very broad area of discussion and there are a multitude of ways and considerations to ensure an organization’s 360 degrees digital presence.

Finally, there should be a connection of the external to the internal where organizations need to ensure that whenever some external request is being placed by customers be it for getting a new service, or issues with existing services, or just a simple query, it should be automatically responded or transferred to the back office so that it can be addressed as earliest possible. Customers coming through a digital channel will have less patience to wait for a service request to be addressed so organizations need to be more agile than normal to keep the customers stick with them. In the physical world, the customers could have waited in a queue or sat in the waiting to be served but in the digital world, there is no queue or waiting. In the digital space, the true agility of an organization will be tested and those who wish to sustain in the new post-pandemic world must be ready to deliver its services in record speed through all of its digital presence.  If there are disconnects between external to internal, then the user experience will fall below excellence which will result in customers losing faith and trust in the organization.

Having integrated technologies such as website, mobile apps, digital onboarding, payment gateways, notification over SMS, app, online messengers, emails, etc. can play a crucial role to establish an organization’s digital footprints for its customers and help it survive.

 

The author is Director & CTO at SSL Wireless; this article represents the author’s personal opinions regarding how to address digital transformation needs of an organization in the pandemic situation.

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