Digital Transformation Is The Sunshine Of COVID & Post-COVID Consumerism

What do you all think will be the picture after 10 years? Or rather, 6 months? To be honest, in this devastating phase of the Coronavirus outbreak, humankind is living in the days of uncertainty. 6 months? We don’t even know what even the next hour holds for us. The most prominent example of this can be cited with the incident of Crude Oil Plunge. Now, even the basic Netflix Subscription is 26 times more than the price of a barrel of a crude resource. We are indeed living in a historic time where the global economy is witnessing transitions that we could have never thought of experiencing.

Hindrances, halts, supply blockages, demand dumps, wage cuts, job sacks, compromised mental health, deaths, the upcoming recession- if these do not cut out to be the real example of Doomsday, then what is?

But what If I tell you that there is a streak of silver lining appearing for the economy from an unconventional corner?

My hint is at the digital transformation, which, after receiving a solid blow from fallen demand, is gradually standing up at its feet at twice the speed. And trust me, this time; it has become the Sunshine that the global business needs as it is coming forth with a plethora of opportunities for all of us.

The digital transformation provides a vast plane for businesses to incubate, thrive and grow. This ecosystem works in a variety of ways that the traditional brick-mortar set-ups don’t function in. In other words, the opportunities are more when you opt for your business to go digital.

In a recent citation by Forbes, they have mentioned that “70% of companies had a digital transformation in place or were working on one”. The question definitely arises, how is going digital gaining so much traction right now?

Challenges & Opportunities

In the words of Andrew Filev, a noted contributor for Forbes Coaches Council, “COVID-19 Is A Before and After Moment In The Digital Transformation” because the areas that have experienced the colossal paradigm shift in COVID crisis are,

1. Telecommunication Sector
2. Entertainment/Events Sector
3. Cloud-Based Service Providers
4. Doorstep Delivery/E-Commerce
5. Real-Estate Industry
6. Automobile Sector
7. Aviation & Shipping Sector
8. Travel/Tourism Sector

The Pandemic-Forced Transformation Of Telecommunication Sector

Before this pandemic, how many of us considered to adopt ‘work from home’ in our working structure? The concept of remote working may not be new, but only a few companies opted for it. Now, remote working has become the only option for a majority of companies mostly belonging from IT & ITes. With lockdown in the effect, this phenomenon has witnessed a widespread acceptance in the economy.

Many companies from almost every sector are now working remotely with employees functioning from the comfort of their homes. Telecommunication thus has become a booming sector where more and more people are now connected through standard voice calls or video calls. This is made easy with software and platforms like Skype, Zoom, TeamView, Whatsapp and what not. Telecommunication has indeed experienced a drastic boom in this lockdown and things will continue to look bright for the sector because after the pandemic, remote working, as well as learning will be the new normal.

The Pandemic-Forced Transformation Of Entertainment/Events Industry

Have you noticed a recent trend in the entertainment sector? All the movies that we were eagerly waiting for to watch, after initially getting deferred release date, are now getting digital opening. And if you think that this is temporary, then think again- how sure can we be that after the pandemic is over, we’ll be able to roam around freely in crowd like before? Even for sports events as well, the gallery attendances can be very much expected to be curbed into a minimum. People can be a spectator remotely, in exchange of a nominal amount for virtual passes.

What about the personal event management sector? There is a possibility of two things- 1. Just when the lockdown gets ended, people will get flock in mass to gather for any programme or 2. The personal events will experience a cut in attendance due to minimum attendance policy by the government.

It is impossible to predict certainly how the changes will take place, so let’s see how the technology is going evolve us, along with itself.

The Pandemic-Forced Transformation Of Cloud-Based Service Providers

The Covid-19 pandemic has boosted the demand for cloud-based services and it gives without saying that the providers are reeling in more customers than ever before.

I would like to share my experience here. Like many of my colleagues in the fraternity, I was dwelling in two minds with the concept of working from home. But this lockdown has shown me all the aspects and possibilities of it. I clearly remember the day when we were closing our office premises &, on that very morning we made a quick (and hefty) purchase of firewall-based private network securer so that our team of more than 200 members could seamlessly access the server from their home abodes. Couldn’t have I made the purchase before? Yes, I could have, but as I mentioned earlier, this did not stand top of my priority list.

Coming back to the point, just like me, there are many entrepreneurs who made their emergency last-minute purchases that gradually set the pace for their digital migration. Cloud computing has become less expensive now, the cloud storage packages have now become more affordable and the services providers are making infrastructure way more convenient than ever before. Google, Microsoft & Amazon are 3 distinct cloud-service players who are now extending their services to the companies to a great extent. For example: Microsoft has started to constantly push its collaborating and messaging tools to the teams. In the month of March-April, it said “that the number of users on the tool has increased by 37%, with at least 900 million meetings and call minutes every day.” As we are expecting an upcoming recession, we can definitely say, cloud-based computing will save a lot on hardware expenditure for the organization, the largest market of which still resides in China- which now stands at a commercially vulnerable spot.

Let’s wait and watch how this digital transition is going to prove beneficial for our cloud-based migration.

The Pandemic-Forced Transformation Of Doorstep Delivery/E-Commerce

Now is the time when people, who never preferred to purchase essentials from online earlier, are doing the same on a frequent basis. The shops are closed now but not the flow of essential commodities like groceries, dairy, vegetables, medicine, etc. These commodities were previously available on both brick-mortar and online set-ups, but now, the exclusive brick-mortar facilities are going online through tying up with app-based delivery services and reaching the people. In the recent trend, services like Amazon which were preferably used for delivering any goods, is now focusing only on the daily essentials.

Amazon Pantry as it is called, launched way back in 2014 and it continued to spread widely in many countries but the hype was still not up to the mark. But now, it has been experiencing a tremendous traction. This is also not something temporary, as people will now prefer to transact online, even the essentials delivery will see new companies emerging from this pandemic.

There is a paradox that we are experiencing in our economy, that it is facing significant losses when people are now buying only the essentials. This proves that consumerism is not only based on needs, but also on changing customer wants. So is this shift of consumer behaviour permanent? Let’s see.

The Pandemic-Forced Transformation Of Commercial Real-Estate Industry

The real-estate industry is going through the worst time now in its existential history. Actually it was going through a slow growth since the past 5 years or so and now with people locked down in their homes, it has become a sector with the most nominal sale. After pandemic, the scenario will be experiencing a paradox though- if greater physical distances are applied in our daily lives, the office premises will thereby require larger spaces to accommodate the employees, but, in case the employee numbers or employee attendance is reduced, the dump can continue after seeing a small growth.

As far as residential real estate is concerned, then here as well, two things can be seen- people may grow closer to their families and continue to live where they are or they can migrate to new properties to maintain social distance. How is this sector going to transform digitally? By taking help of the Augmented and Virtual Reality tools that will give the buyers a real-like view of the property with aligned audio instead of walking-tour in the premises. Real-estate too is awaiting a major gradual transformation just like any other sector.

The Pandemic-Forced Transformation Of Automobile Industry

Maruti Suzuki, India’s leading car manufacturing brand has reported to sell record ZERO UNITS in the month of April. So will it ever see a positive light? Of course, but only after this pandemic is over. With the restrictions imposed in public transport in the matter of carrying the number of passengers, people will now opt for buying two or four wheelers more than ever before.

Social distancing will be a practice of our daily life, so many people, instead of pooling, will prefer to travel separately. Thus, there will be a chance for the automobile industry to raise it head again as to cope up with the rising demand, there will be more inclusion of manufacturing robots, AI and IoT machines for speeding up the vehicle making. What’s more? In the recent news, “Maruti Suzuki rolls out safety norms, introduces doorstep car delivery”, “Carvana Launching 100 Markets to Bring Online Car Buying and Touchless Delivery to Customers Who Need It”- the sector as we see, has already started its migration digitally. This is start and let’s watch where it goes…

The Pandemic Forced Transformation Of Aviation & Shipping Sector

After the lockdown, people will invariably reduce their travelling by air, so in this case, the airline companies that are already trying hard to keep up in their falling economy; can opt for co-carrying of passengers and good in one flight. With the reduced number of travellers, they can make more room for carrying overseas freight. This is indeed a positive side for both the aviation and courier sector as their merger can help them compensate big for the losses they have incurred in this phase.

The digital transition here will be taking place through unique ways of deliveries. UPS & CVS has already announced Drone Delivery in the state of Florida that abides by every norm of social distancing. It is just the start for the era of speedy deliveries to initiate and everything is controlled, on digital platforms.

There will definitely be more changes in this sector as the aviation and shipping merge with each other and right now, alongside speculating the possibilities we can only wait.

The Pandemic Forced Transformation Of Travel/Tourism Sector

Just yesterday I came across the news that the island of Sicily in Italy “is offering to pay for half your flights and a third of your hotel costs if you visit later this year”. Astonished? This is the condition of global tourism right now in this pandemic. The country is one of the worst affected by Covid and it is taking desperate measures to get back on its feet through tourism.

How is digital transformation going to take place here? It can be slow from the perspective of investment, but when the transition takes place, it will be path-breaking. From offering virtual tours to making every step of hotel and travel planning digital, the sector is definitely going to automate itself in the coming years. Now, we can book our hotels and flights through app, but later on, the submission of important documents and even signatures will be digitalized for this sector.

Specifically this sector comes with a plethora of areas for transformation, let’s see how they take place in near future.

The sectors like hygiene & healthcare too are experiencing a boom as people have started to digitally buy the goods through app-based platforms. In fact many companies are now putting more focus on their digital marketing strategies to get closer to more people than even before.

The Migration To Digital Is Taking Place Faster Than We Could Think

Is it easy to keep the consumers at your side when there are hundreds of alternatives available today online? On the contrary, it is, in my experience as a digital marketing entrepreneur, I have seen people migrating in online consumerism every day in thousands. Yes, the competition is indeed fierce, but once you get the grip with the right tools, strategies and backups, then there is nothing that can stop you from achieving your goals.

The integration of the right technology can fundamentally change the way your business operates and fetch favorable results for your online existence. Digital transformation of business is customer-centric, so whatever strategy a business makes, it ultimately results in ample lead generation and increased customer retention.

Here Are Certain Trends I Would Like To Mention To Validate My Point

A. The Sudden Rise Of Tele-Learning

We could witness the gradual migration of traditional education into the digital space with e-learning. This functionalized as an option with many institutions, but with the outbreak of COVID-19, this has become the only way of keeping the wheel of education going on in these tough times. To keep the loss of academic years at bay, educational institutions and educationists have started taking online classes for their pupils. Various video calling platforms are right now holding online classes for the students remotely. Even the internet providers are coming up with great plans that help the communication to remain streamlined.

B. The Rise Of Digital Businesses

Until now, I talked about businesses that are gradually adopting digital transformation, but now, I will be spilling my light on those businesses that are sprucing up as already digitalized set-ups. Online collaboration, cloud, business process management, AR/VR, IoT, robotic process automation and many other path-breaking & new-age technologies will be the backbone of them; as a result, due to their already customer-centric approach, they will keep their audience hooked with unparalleled execution of strategies. They will indeed be the new-age pioneers of tech-enabled business set-ups that provide highly-personalized products and services in an omnichannel way.

C. Digitalization Of Customer Engagement

Since all strategies are now customer-centric, the process of lead generation and customer management and engagement will now all be digitalized and fast-tracked. Brands are now gradually discovering the importance of leveraging their data throughout a wide range of systems and channels for consistent delivery of contextual and personalized products, services and contents. There will be numerous digital touchpoints for the same. Cloud will be of greater assistance in this case along with VPN servers because with the large pools of customer data generated, its management will become seamless.

D. The Supply Chains Will Be Re-Organized

A lot of offline retailers right now are looking for product delivery models to incorporate in their businesses. In fact, many of them have already tied-up. This tie-up model fetches advantage for both parties in this phase and there will be ample opportunities for growth for the future of both as well. Incorporate technology in this model and you will definitely see positive growth results.

E. The Recruitment Process Will Be Remote As Well

Well, the process of remote interviewing may not be something new, but when it comes to recruitment, doing it off-premises can definitely be the new game-changer. Here, I would definitely mention assessment tools like Hacker Earth, Talview, Mettl and Testofy, who, until now, have immensely helped their clientele by evaluating the right talent. But what after this? Given the current state of the economy right now, everyone associated with it is expecting a colossal recession blow that will result in more job losses. But after the recruitment is once again revitalized, we’ll be able to see Remote Recruitment- where from final interview to documentation, from employee on-boarding to orientation, will be done all digitally.

F. Beefed-Up Data Security For More Customer Confidence

The best part of adopting new-age technology is that it comes with thick data security. With so many instances of fraudulent digital activities and their unfortunate rising numbers, customers are still dwindling in two minds whether to trust accessing the online payment and info-sharing gateways for convenient activities. Digital transformation enables the company to adapt to the new security and privacy protection standards that will imbibe confidence within the customers.

G. Leadership Will Transform Too After COVID-19

A successful transformation to digital starts with the evolution of leaders who inspire and drive their employees in realizing the business’ new vision. Each and every personnel of the hierarchy has a vital part to play in the company’s journey towards digital change with long-term goals.

And for that, they have to stay updated and also upgraded with the new changes. When the evolution takes place, only one department is not affected, rather the entire organization transcends into a new facet and herein, the leaders are required to make critical technology-based decisions to boost the functionality of the company.

H. Improved Employee Experience For Better Management

A company’s employees are its driving wheel. Collecting, processing, strategizing and implementing their feedback on the company’s new-improved functional structure will give the company a clear view on the points of improvement after the digital transition. This is a significant step as this will ensure the seamless flow of consumer-grade services.

So, What Will Be The Considerations For A Successful Digital Transformation Business Model

Business Digital Transformation is an extremely complex process that entirely depends on how unique the situation is of the organization. The steps of transition are variable for different businesses. For example, an already existing traditional brick-mortar set-up will have to invest more but slowly for its segmental digital evolution, but when it comes to a younger business, which, from its inception, is all digitalized in every aspect, it only needs investment for frequent updates. So, here are certain basic touch-downs for the digital transformation of businesses:

  • The services and products should be viable, sustainable and simple
  • The strategy execution of goods and services should be customer-satisfaction oriented.
  • Sufficient and updated knowledge of customer demands should always be referred to.
  • The customer demands should be analyzed in real-time throughout their buyer journey.
  • Digital strategy models should be flexible and versatile and not confined.
  • Organizations have to find out the new areas of customer-satisfaction frequently.
  • More emphasis has to be put on generating, engaging and maintaining leads with digital tools and sales should be based on the value proposition.
  • The digital business models must focus on the expanding customer base, cautiously so that they incur lesser overhead.
Digital Transformation Is Not A Magic Bullet

Are you expecting overnight success through an overnight transition? Then you must change that mindset again. Don’t forget we are still in these tough times trying to steer through it with everything positive and possible by our side. There is one thing more important than digital transformation and that is adapting to the – and inculcating a new kind of work environment. This needs a proper change of mentality. Digital transformation is the fundamental development and sustenance of new services and products empowered by technological enablers so that customers can experience a seamless transaction circle, beyond their desired fulfillment. It is like borrowing technology to re-shape existing business so that after this outbreak is uprooted, entrepreneurs can embrace the evolved consumerism with arms wide open.

Change In The Employee Efficiency: Time To Pour-In More

With the onset of digital transition, the ethics of our workplaces too will be changing drastically. Let’s get it straight, with the recession making its way faster than we could think, invariably there will occur job losses. The economy will not require people who are inefficient in their jobs and thus are wasteful in handling company’s time and resources. In this critical moment, employers will obviously look out for better alternatives in their place so that the wheel is kept working constantly in this battle of existence in the economy. Tough times are ahead and they require warriors who not only will work for the sake of working, but will be an integral part of strengthening the economy. So hone skills, learn the usage of new technology, instil them in your work and make positive contribution in upholding the economy.

Contribute To The Ethical & Aesthetic Transformation Ahead

We the humans have underestimated the power of nature in our race to achieve the highest glory. Right now, at every hour and every second, we are discovering that most of our pursuits lacked the aesthetic touch. Today, as we are saying that ‘nature is rebooting’ we are witnessing how she is healing on her own. From the gigantic ozone layer repairing itself from lesser pollution to experiencing seasonal temperatures without any extreme deflection- from flamingos flocking and turning Mumbai water bodies pink to dolphins returning in the canals of Italy and Ganges of Kolkata, this lockdown, or rather the physical absence of human has proved to be a boon in disguise.

The lockdown won’t last forever but let’s take a pledge today, to do our part and transform our lives digitally so that we intervene in the natural course of Mother Nature’s evolution in the least possible way. So that we and Mother Nature can thrive shoulder-to-shoulder. This might be our only chance!

We Are Positive…We Are Hopeful…We Are Changing

Belonging in this sector has given me a lot chances to evolve my business with the ebb and flow of technology. Today, in this crisis we are embracing these changes with open arms because we stand hopeful, we believe that after this fall, things will get up and stand taller and stronger than before. Digital transformation will bring us a future full of possibilities and opportunities that will pave a new path of growth.