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Digital business strategy post-Covid-19: Top five goals to accelerate business

business growth
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Peshkova)

Digital business strategy in organizations around the globe has made us see some major wrecking in 2020. The pandemic has very evidently left the phrase "business is as usual" in a faraway land and time. The idea of “normal” in these uncertain times has not just impacted “quarterly goals” but entire visions and missions of businesses.

For many, the toughest times and leadership is now. We, as businesses of tomorrow, have to answer the most challenging questions now: How to strive, thrive, and drive goals through these times? What is our new business strategy that survives these times? 

The time is to rethink, renegotiate, replace, revive, and re-innovate. That’s right, not merely surviving but reviving and building resilience all of us can count on, no matter what comes tomorrow.

This post has been going around for a while.

 "Who led the digital transformation of your company?

  • CEO
  • CTO
  • Covid-19

Some may chuckle, for us it’s funny because it hasn’t proven to be truer than ever!

The pandemic forced extreme changes in the world, but we think some changes represent the peak of innovation in a crisis. Businesses have reset workforces and work itself along with goals. It has forced organizations to migrate to digital more rapidly than ever!

Digital transformation is a top priority at the moment- especially workflow innovation and digital business strategy. Organizations need to focus on strategies to digitize processes and balance the immediate needs of their customers, employees as well as communities, while also thinking about long-term goals 

“Work From Home” is the new and the 2020 “normal” and we all know that. But, what most organizations need to recognize is aligning their goals to ‘WFH’ with a new digital business strategy that is optimal and better suited for post-Covid-19 too!  Adopting the right way to transform, that’s also going to cater to long-term objectives and provide a competitive edge is something businesses need to build intelligently.

2020 has given us enough reasons to re-think our business models, modes of operation, workplace practices, processes, and policies.

Obviously, some level of digitization has happened, well, it had to; but we all know and are very much aware that all the migration to digital workflows and operations has been on an extremely basic, bare-minimum functional level- a ventilator of sorts. A truly digital organization ensures long-term objectives, not just a “phase”.

Industry-wide digitization only shows how crucial a proper digital business strategy is.

Grocery stores have shifted to online ordering and delivery systems as primary drivers of the business. Schools have moved to 100 percent online learning and digital classrooms. Gyms and trainers are providing live-sessions from home and so are banks operating transactions and other processes remotely.

As we can see, the pandemic has hit industries across the globe, across sectors. If the pandemic could hit us all, why can’t digital transformation? Of course, there are challenges before that and we faced them too. Traditional benchmarks and insights used to manage and evaluate the business are suddenly obsolete. For instance,

Physical workspaces and manual tasks

From the passing of pens and forms to conference rooms- everything is ‘from home’. Shops are online now and so are clinics. All the physical manual processes in the office have to be done remotely and most importantly, digitally. Businesses who hadn’t digitized their processes faced major challenges in this area.

Speed

Lockdowns, WFH, logistics, teams being scattered- and this isn’t even minuscule of the issues that are slowing down processes. Especially hands-on and on-field processes have suffered the most because most operations were carried out in-person on-field and required human intervention. From education to on-field operations like manufacturing and procurement processes have been hampered and slowed down industries majorly. Speed drives processes but the pandemic has challenged us all with regards to speed. Scaling business from home at speed is not easy.

Functional and operational inefficiencies are likely to be further aggravated because of the unpredictability of consumer demand and uncertainty of timelines and service delivery as well.

Consumer demands, expectations & unpredictability

There is no doubt about what has caused the economies to plunge- consumer demand.

Organizations are rethinking their operating models based on how their customers are responding and customers too, are expecting businesses to immediately adapt to a model that they think they can trust.

Digitization expectations are at an all-time high at the moment but there’s the question of customer’s unpredictability. Suddenly, it’s almost impossible to predict, forecast, and analyze consumer behavior and trends.

Operational foundation

The biggest challenge has been maintaining stability or at least trying to steadily maintain an operational foundation. Companies have been forced to devise a holistic plan that is built on a robust and flexible digital business strategy. Forming a foundation that ensures operational continuity whilst anticipating and accommodating disruptions and fluctuations in demand patterns has been critically challenging.

Productivity

With teams dispersed and operating from home, with the pandemic hitting literally millions, productivity and operational efficiency have obviously dipped. Employees have been affected most from both fronts- customer-facing as well as organization-facing.

Today, the digital business strategy for businesses across has been compressed from months or years to a matter of days and that change has affected productivity big time.

Covid-19 has hit us with a major lesson and represents a turning point for businesses. It is time to devise a completely new digital business strategy and lead businesses to transform into a digital workplace with workplace innovation.

It is a time for organizations to shift to a digital-first, customer-first, and an employee-first model, and to prioritize and accelerate long-term digitalization goals. In order to operate successfully in a post-Covid world, companies need to pull their socks and masks up and pave way for digitization, their digital capabilities, and implement a robust digital business strategy.

Revisiting & aligning business goals: Embracing true digital transformation

All that is given but the question remains what do we do exactly? What are the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) Goals every organization needs to think of and how must companies reimagine and re-purpose customer journeys to reduce friction, accelerate the shift to digital, and provide for new safety requirements?

We have five SMART goals that will help focus on 5 forefronts:

  • refocusing and accelerating digital investments for evolving customer needs,
  • reducing employee- and IT burden in the process of transforming digitally,
  • improving business operations,
  • digitizing and modernizing workflows and capabilities to boost development velocity, and
  • increasing overall organizational agility and scale business to deliver efficiently

These goals are

Adopting citizen development

As organizations revive operational momentum and prepare for resilient growth, they need to comprehensively reassess their workforce strategy and prepare for a post-Covid-19 work environment with end-to-end digital efforts. For instance, the ways the workforce functions, the kind of tools they require to be more efficient, and function collaboratively.

Citizen Development is a movement that enables the kind of digitization needed in these times. The burden on professional IT developers is more than ever and what citizen development enables is application development without professional training.

A citizen developer is a non-professional developer and software builder who builds applications for use by other people without knowing how to code. Even though they do not report directly to the IT department, they use tools and platforms such as low-code apps that are sanctioned by IT.

This allows businesses to ease IT, rapidly deploy applications suitable for very specific tasks, allows employees to build customizable apps that can access information in a fast and secure way, and effectively liaise with teams across.

Automate and hyper automate now

Covid-19 has given businesses a lot of lessons and perspective too. A report revealed that the Business Process Automation market was predicted to be $10 billion in pre-Covid forecasts with a CAGR of 10 percent. That has grown to 14.3 percent already.

Automation is helping businesses use resources better as it takes care of tedious, repetitive tasks. Employees can focus on the important aspects of a business. This also eliminates the need to hire new resources for paperwork and manual roles.

Digital process automation and hyper-automation are added expenditure, yes, but with no-code platforms that are affordable coming into the market, businesses have it easy!

It is much cheaper and effective to use technology than to hire human resources.

Digital operations and workflows

Hundreds of operational decisions and workflows get remodeled on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Organizations need to digitize the way their operating models are functioning to cater to an agile environment that optimizes operational efficiency- from enhancing supply chain operations to optimizing inventory and production processes.

Process automation enables the change and calibrates end-to-end visibility that is essential to identify redundancies in processes and swiftly respond to changes in demand to minimize disruptions in fulfillment.

Digital customer experience

They put customers at ease and increase their satisfaction. This helps businesses long-term to retain customer relationships.

Because of the pandemic, organizations faced a major loss of face-to-face interactions with their customers. These interactions helped establish a personal connection between businesses and their customers- from industries like education to BFSI, be it businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C).

To maintain the connection in a digital space, companies need to rethink their digital business strategy in a way that provides a seamless customer experience. Businesses must aim to quickly innovate and create new offerings to replace in-person experiences, automating customer-facing processes and providing digital services is the way to go. 

For instance, a DXP or Digital Experience Platform enables this connection, across the customer funnel- from acquisition to building customer loyalty.  A digital experience platform recalibrates customer experience efforts that suit digital channels whilst incorporating safety across products, services, and processes.

Modernizing with no-code low-code & driving results

Aligning goals means adopting new technologies to meet current times and driving results with it. No-code application development is of such velocity and effectiveness that drives the new business digital strategy. With organizations increasingly moving to online channels, there is an even greater need to automate processes from inventory to delivery management processes as well as boost results at scale.

The goal here is to ensure a fast and result-driven approach. And no-code application enables it. It mitigates the impact of the disruption of the pandemic by workplace innovation, forms automation, improving worker safety, driving operational efficiency, and enhancing operational quality.

Ensuring impact: A few tips for 2021

It is crucial to understand that these are trying times, especially when businesses have to revisit goals and rethink entire digital business strategies, and most importantly also taking care of the workforce. It is a bit overwhelming but the above goals are steps towards enhancing and ensuring a smooth and impactful digital transformation. Here are some tips to drive impact with your digital business strategy

  • Take & give space & time
  • The pandemic is massive and so is the shift to digital.
  • Make space for processes that you know are beneficial long-term and are value-driving.
  • It is natural that the shift of team members working remotely will have many businesses create new positions to adjust.

It does get tricky when typical workflows get disrupted. Consider implementing regular meetings, and updating information within departments, and restructuring processes.

2. Baby steps

As you come to grips with working amidst the pandemic, take baby steps while implementing goals. This includes your goals for profit generation, team members, and all other things that have to do with your processes. By revisiting these goals you can revise them properly and ensure that business stays afloat now and will thrive long after the pandemic passes.

3. Optimize & enhance

As you start implementing changes by revisiting and revising goals, restructuring roles and processes, you’ll certainly see changes- good and bad. Use them to eliminate things that aren’t working out and optimize and enhance the processes that are doing well! Soon you’ll see that working remotely is a breeze and you’ll also have a post-pandemic recovery plan ready to deploy because of the use of no-code apps!

4. Lastly, but most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself!

We all know 2020 hasn’t been easy on us. Let’s make it a point to drive self-growth too, little by little. Don’t expect to get everything right the first time. Learn by practicing often and making mistakes. In some ways, you will be rebuilding your business in a new light and way.

Summary

To summarize, the pandemic has wrecked businesses but it’s upon businesses to revive and build resilience to count on, no matter what comes tomorrow. SMART goals have proven best to revive and build desired leadership and drive impact.

Gartner predicts that by the year 2025, all industries will be completely transformed by digital. And, as we have stated the root of transformation is innovation. In the simplest of words, you must accelerate innovation in your organization to ensure you are not left behind.

Vivek Goel, Vice President (Marketing and Evangelism), Quixy