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Who is leading your digital transformation: The CEO, the CTO, or Covid-19?

(Image credit: Image Credit: Konica Minolta Business Solutions UK )

The Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged the global economy and many companies have been forced to new digital workflows to keep the company floating. But who is leading that digital journey?

Major global crises are one of the most powerful catalysts for transformation, and Covid-19 is no exception. Many companies are forced to become digital these days just to have the slightest chance of surviving the crisis.

We are now well over a month and a half into the corona crisis and it’s safe to say that everyday life has been turned upside down for everyone.

While healthcare systems around the world are fighting a commendable battle, companies have also had their own struggles to survive. Companies are being forced to send employees home, production is stalling, and in the IT industry, we are also seeing both layoffs and bankruptcies despite efforts from the government. It is serious and it will have consequences for many years to come.

And while governments and companies are using different tactics around the world, one thing is certain: the companies that are best-suited for the crisis and seem to be doing the best are those that have already completed a major digitalisation, and thus, have managed to remove analogue chokepoints.

And the winners are…

These are the companies that could, relatively easily, move their tasks home. These are the companies that already had a significant share of the company's sales online. These are the companies that had already digitalised the company's data, workflows, and processes not only to be optimised, but also to ensure the best possible flexibility for employees.

At the same time, companies who haven't already moved the majority of their sales channel online will be hit hard by Covid-19. Larger retail chains in the UK have gone from a turnover of millions of pounds to zero in just two months simply because they only had physical stores.

In my home country, Denmark, we see the largest retailer of groceries, Salling Group, investing almost 60 million pounds in an online war to try to keep up with aggressive and fast-growing and aggressive online supermarkets, which have experienced doubling of their revenue during the Covid-19. It is much easier for smaller companies to address the consequences of Covid-19 than a large conglomerate with thousands of employees and workflows, that have not been revisited in many years. 

Many companies have however rapidly executed a digitalisation of work processes and initiated new sales opportunities to maintain a sales flow and secure profit, and it is impressive how agile, creative, and adaptable most companies have been since the beginning of the corona crisis, and it creates confidence that many companies will probably survive the crisis.

The change is here to stay

The use of online cloud services such as Office 365 and Teams will have a major impact on the ordinary day-to-day work processes, which are likely to become far more flexible and informal. And I can guarantee that this change is here to stay - even after we get our daily routines going again. Cloud services are a salvation in these Corona times, and in addition, they fit well with our demands for a modern and flexible workplace.

Many of the larger software giants have already stated, that many of their employees may never need to come back to the office, but instead only be working from home, should they want to. This is a work culture, that we have seen in the Nordic for many years already, but the pandemic has accelerated the growth.

But a migration to the cloud is not just something you do in a week. Just ask any CIO that has completed a digitalisation process of any business - it requires care and thought. Today, digital data is a company's most important asset, and there are many pitfalls. an example is Microsoft Teams, which might be easy to begin with - it's preinstalled on most Windows 10 machines - but if you are not controlling the dataflow, valuable data will be lost.

Take good care of your data

Therefore, it is key that you think through the whole process if you have had to digitalise your work processes and methods to adapt to the Corona crisis.

A classic example is the adaption of new cloud services: When companies facilitate the necessary framework for home workplaces with services such as Teams, OneDrive, and Office 365, it should be done with care. Unfortunately, it is far from clear to everyone that data is not protected in neither Microsoft’s nor Google's cloud solutions.

Don’t get me wrong: Your data is safer in the cloud, safeguarded by the combined security efforts In a modern datacentre, whether It is at Microsoft or e.g. Google, than it most likely would be at your office on premise. The difference is that even if Microsoft is handling your data, Its still your responsibility.

If, for example, you are hit by a ransomware attack that targets your data in the cloud, be it your emails, files, contact information, and so on, there is no help from Microsoft to retrieve those data.

It is solely your responsibility to protect and secure your data in the cloud. Therefore, it is crucial that you remember to implement your cloud data in your existing backup strategy. On top of all of this, there is a growing number of ransomware attacks, already doubled since the outbreak of Covid-19.

It's all about being agile without losing sight of the big picture, about making sure it’s the company that’s steering the digitalisation and not Covid-19 dictating it. Forced digitalisation can actually make companies better off after the crisis, not only in terms of productivity, but also in creating the best and most flexible framework for the increasingly demanding workforce.

This is only true when things are handled right from the start, because otherwise you end up with an ill-conceived solution that could very well do more harm than good.

Frederik Schouboe, co-founder and CEO, Keepit

Frederik Schouboe is the CEO at the Keepit Group.