As organizations begin to shift from the recovery phase of COVID-19 to the renewal, many are focused on what comes next and capitalizing on the changes made to the business during COVID-19. The Gartner Board of Directors survey highlighted that seven out of 10 boards have accelerated digital business initiatives in the wake of COVID-19 disruption.
One question we hear frequently when discussing digital business strategy now is, “Why is this digitalization different from digital prior to COVID-19?” And the answer is pace — the pace of adoption. With a potentially short window of time before a resurgence of the virus or other related disruption, organizations need to act quickly.
The digital part isn’t new, but the acceleration part is crucial. This is about the urgent adoption of established patterns, many of them digital, but also patterns of psychology (how do we survive), organization (are we equipping people with the best skills and cohorts?) and governance (do we need so much ritual, or can we move faster?)
Organizations have to change, now. There is no option to continue on as they have. It has to be done to preserve the business and the future of the business. When economics are going as well as they had been, more or less, for the past decade, organizations didn’t have to make the hard choices or tackle underlying faults. Pre-COVID business and operating models could probably improve with certain digitalization efforts, but why change what’s working well enough? Now, the path forward is clear: Accelerate digital business or risk the survival of the organization.
Organizations need to be making better-informed and faster decisions, focusing on automation, real-time risk assessment and mitigation, continuous value delivery and agile strategy making. And they need to be doing it now.
The acceleration we are experiencing is the search for new solutions in the face of broken assumptions
Disruption is useful: We need it to make progress. The acceleration we are experiencing is the search for new solutions in the face of broken assumptions. We have an opportunity to make things better, rather than falling back on what worked before. Over time, we will build a new set of business practices, forever changed by COVID-19.
What does digital business acceleration look like?
The answer to this question will depend on your organization's strategies and business. Consider the larger goals and initiatives that drive the business — how can those be improved through effective use of known technology and information design patterns?
Consider automation in the call center. Many companies have been increasing this specific automation over the years, but now implementation is accelerating. COVID-19 meant people couldn’t physically be in call centers, and at the same time, many call centers experienced a massive uptick in demand.
Chatbots become an efficient, but more importantly now, a necessary, digital tool for the organization. It’s not a new technology; it’s just that organizations were pushed to find solutions. Now they have to be adopted at an accelerated rate.
How will we speed up?
Acceleration has some specific requirements, both in the digital and the physical worlds. First, you must banish drags: Remove those things that will slow you down. This could mean modernizing a piece of your legacy technology or removing unnecessary ritual from change management processes.
Second, you need fuel to boost you: These patterns, like call center automation or social marketing (proven implementations), can get you moving quickly. Third, you must adjust resources: Shift funding from less valuable initiatives to those focused on new channels, products or services that will have greater, faster returns.
Finally, seize value: Sweat the assets you own, like cloud platforms, that are likely underutilized and that could be used for rapid innovation and resilience.