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Why digital products are more important than ever

Software
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/TechnoVectors)

As you sat in your home for weeks or months at a time, you probably thought that 2020 would never end. Covid-19 led to long-term social distancing, medical hardships, and an economic recession that impacted people around the world. But while the pandemic brought on a lot of challenges, it also ushered in a new era of progressive change: The business world saw dramatic growth when it came to remote work and digitization.

According to a global survey by McKinsey, executives report that the digitization of internal operations and customer interactions has accelerated by three to four years. Additionally, the development of digital products has undergone a seven-year leap. The new business landscape demands innovation, which is why most organizations are increasing their digital initiative budgets.

Even pre-pandemic, digitization of the workplace provided significant advantages. So why did it take so long for organizations to tap into the power of digital products? About 14 percent of McKinsey & Co. respondents cited a lack of leadership alignment, but most reported that digitization simply wasn’t a top priority. Now, Gartner research indicates that 69 percent of boards of directors are shifting their strategies. Today’s leaders are leaning heavily on digitization to engage customers, empower employees, and increase revenue in a tough economy.

While many organizations reach for off-the-shelf solutions to quickly solve their pain points, this choice can ultimately result in more difficulties down the line. Instead, you should explore the capabilities of custom software. Despite a higher up-front cost and lengthier development timeline, custom software solutions are designed to suit the specific needs of your business and customers. In the mid- and post-pandemic era, digitization provides advantages by helping you accomplish the following:

1. Facilitate interpersonal relationships.

Relationships are the cornerstone of B2B businesses, and until the pandemic struck, those relationships were established via face-to-face interactions. Meetings and industry conferences helped build the trust necessary to close major deals and write large checks. Now, business travel has all but vanished, and Bill Gates predicts that 50 percent of that loss will be permanent.

While it’s likely that the post-pandemic environment will see continued adoption of widely used digital tools such as Slack and Zoom, there’s still plenty of room for other digital products that create and nourish interpersonal connections between B2B marketers, salespeople, clients, and prospects. It might not make sense for you to host a shared movie screening for potential clients using Netflix’s Teleparty feature, but it’s still a great example of an exciting new tool that can bring people together. Whether you want to build a unique software demo or use virtual reality to transport prospects to your office space in seconds, you have plenty of opportunities to use digital products when building relationships.

2. Streamline workflows.

Many parents are still working from home and taking care of children who are learning remotely. Because of this, your employees and clients are probably juggling more responsibilities than ever while working from home. That’s why it’s important to use blocks of time as effectively as possible, prioritizing the mission-critical tasks. There’s certainly no shortage of project management software on the market, but these off-the-shelf solutions are built to appeal to the broadest possible customer base. As a result, users must cope with excessive complexity, and the initial potential of these solutions tends to unravel when applied to your unique business challenges and needs.

Custom software, on the other hand, excels because it’s built with your industry, business, and needs in mind. From the bottom up, each feature and design choice is tailored to your specific processes. It’s also possible to integrate custom digital tools with existing software options, allowing you to reap the benefits of a custom approach while letting you do it quickly and at the right price point.

3. Align objectives.

It’s good to help people stay focused, but alignment between corporate goals and departmental objectives has been known to waver. If you aren’t setting clear expectations based on informative data, then your employees might not be able to accomplish the tasks you set for them. Once you identify the data that’s most closely linked with ideal outcomes, custom software can help deliver that data and establish targets for different departments to aim for.

Data for its own sake has another name: clutter. Before you build a custom software solution that offers “insights,” make sure you know exactly what you hope to achieve. Collecting inaccurate or unnecessary data can drain your resources and actually stand in the way of desirable outcomes, so enter the software design process with a clear objective in mind. A mature software design process will help you gain consent from both corporate and departmental leaders to determine what’s most important before proceeding.

4. Connect workers.

According to an Enterprise Technology Research survey, the number of permanent telecommuters across the globe will double in 2021. Many businesses struggled with communication in the wake of the mass shift to remote work, and they’ll definitely need more support to maintain productivity.

Virtual collaboration tools such as Miro’s online whiteboard or Creately’s digital diagrams can help bridge the gap and get your various stakeholders on the same page, but custom software solutions can help meet the specific needs of your organization. Maybe your business needs a videoconferencing room with creative capabilities or invoice software that supports file-sharing among multiple users. Shoehorning your organization’s needs into a prepackaged piece of software can create more obstacles than it eliminates, whereas custom software is designed with your industry and business in mind.

You’ve finally moved into 2021, but the world is still in the midst of the pandemic. As new and more contagious Covid-19 variants emerge in several parts of the world, the first half of the new year will likely feel like a continuation of 2020. The vaccine delivery process is expected to take significant time to take effect, so you will likely experience continued business challenges. However, this presents an opportunity for you to embrace digitization of the workplace. There’s no limit to what digital products can accomplish for your customers and employees, so spend some time dreaming up what software solutions could do to usher your company into the post-pandemic era.

Tim Scott, head of experience design, Frogslayer