To say that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has represented a disruption for us all is, at this point, probably a bit of an understatement.
Businesses of all types and their technology leaders were already trying to keep pace with the rapidly accelerating speed of digital business transformation. Then, the pandemic began in 2020 and upended just about everything, sending industries in wild new directions that few could have predicted.
But at the same time, many of these "new directions" contained familiar old hallmarks. Speed, agility, efficiency, security, innovation — these things are just as important in 2021 as they were in 2019, if not more so.
So yes, the pandemic has been a challenge in terms of digital transformation — but a challenge is nothing if not an opportunity just waiting to be taken advantage of by those savvy leaders who have been paying attention. As organizations of all types continue to rebuild, they will tend to fall into one of a few main recovery patterns with regards to their ongoing transformations moving forward. Your key to taking advantage of your own therefore stems from your ability to understand these patterns as much as possible.
Embracing the Surge
Believe it or not, there are some businesses out there who have been fortunate enough to enjoy a rapid expansion in consumer demand as a direct result of the pandemic. However, there will soon come a day when the pandemic is finally in our rearview mirror. When that day comes, the companies that are experiencing this surge will need a way to sustain that growth and digital transformation is undoubtedly how they'll do it.
This means that they need to begin scaling their AI capabilities to accelerate strategies for not only intelligent automation but also cost management, customer engagement and, of course, growth. To get here, they'll need to streamline and elevate decision rights and information governance surrounding their technology investment, all in an effort to expedite the process. They'll also need more thorough service management capabilities that will be critical to delivering enterprise-ready solutions faster than ever, all in an effort to keep pace with this growth as much as possible.
Business as "Usual" in the New Normal
The types of businesses that fall into this particular recovery pattern tend to be those working for the government. Utilities providers, along with financial institutions, are also among this group. Businesses who are operating more or less "as usual" are those that may have been hit hard by shutdowns during the initial stages of the pandemic, but who are also expected to recover quickly.
The key to persevering in the future, however, rests in their ability to understand changing consumer preferences. Because of that, internal data alone isn't going to get the job done. These organizations will need external tools like machine learning to uncover invaluable insights. They'll also need to mature their IT efforts much faster than others, allowing them to get modern solutions into the hands of their customers in the wake of rapidly changing consumer expectations.
In Order to Re-Emerge, You Must Transform
The vast majority of all businesses will fall into this recovery pattern, and it's a critical one to understand. While the business model these organizations are built on is still appropriate, how customers want to engage with them has changed — likely for all time.
Because of that, these organizations will need to create a modern digital backbone to expand their technical capabilities to keep up with changing consumer behaviors. They'll need to utilize the cloud and emerging technologies to accelerate their digital transformation to get ready for this "new normal." Modernizing applications using low or even no code platforms, coupled with modern APIs, will be pivotal as now is not the time to be restricted by those legacy IT Ops tools that were woefully outdated even before the pandemic began.
The Art of the Hard Reset
Finally, you have the organizations that are in the midst of a prolonged challenge — one that will essentially require them to re-think what their business even is from the ground up. It's already taking place in industries like real estate and hospitality and make no mistake — it's going to touch even more organizations as time goes on.
Here, IT will become the immediate driver of sustained business success through cost-cutting initiatives. Leaders will have to make difficult choices regarding what roles can be automated and what roles still require human employees. Is outsourcing an opportunity? What about managed IT services? These are all important questions that will need to be answered moving forward.
In the end, one thing that has remained true before, during and after the pandemic is that a focus on what really matters to business performance (and how IT can help empower these efforts) is of paramount importance. Digital leaders will continue to be in a stronger position than their competitors, even in the face of this crisis. Therefore, coming to an understanding of your organization's specific pathway to recovery is your key to coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic all the better because of it.