Digital Business After Coronavirus
Date: 30.03.2021 7-minute read
More than a year since COVID-19 sent much of the world into lockdown, economies remain fragile and there is no clear endgame in sight. It is a hard time for businesses to look forward and make plans, but “wait and see” is not a viable option. If there were any lingering doubts about the necessity of digital transformation to business longevity, the coronavirus has silenced them. In a contactless world, the vast majority of interactions with customers and employees must take place virtually. With rare exception, operating digitally is the only way to stay in business through mandated shutdowns and restricted activity. It is “go digital or go dark”.
If there is one lesson that we learned from 2020(Afshar) it may be that every company needs to be digital. We have had an incredible acceleration towards the world of digital based on this “seismic” event and in some ways, I don’t think we are going back ever again.
The future of digital business has to be based on flows versus silos. Silos is a reluctance to share information with employees of different divisions in the same company.). In a world where the new currencies are speed, personalization, intelligence, trust, holistic success – this is a lesson in biology, so a shift from silo mentality that governs how we operate as individuals and businesses to a flow mentality. (a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus)
The future of digital business is more like “living systems”. Which are all flow-based and designed to circulate and share resources. So, in business, we have to think very much like how do we capture insights with the purpose of co-creating value at the speed of need.
The lesson in 2020 for some of us is the realization that work is no longer a place. You have companies now that have announced that their employees don’t have to ever come back to the office. They can work from home forever- some Silicon Valley technology has already stated that. How do you engage with customers? You can imagine how even sales professionals have to conduct business where they are not meeting the customer. They are not at lunch, they are not in a networking event, they are not in a golf course, they are conducting business purely in a digital format. We, as human beings, establish trust, our sense of response mechanisms are based on physical interaction. To be able to achieve trust – that is a lesson that we are all learning in this pure digital format.
I think every business, every single business will be a digital business. Last month (April 2020) for the first time ever in the US there were more online groceries purchases than in person. So, you will see for example E-commerce, digital commerce which last year was only 16 percent of total commerce. I believe that in the next 3 years we will see probably 50% of our commerce as digital.
So, when I look at the most valuable companies in the world, 8 of the top 10 are technology companies. I would argue all of them are software technology companies with which data underpinnings. So I would say if we fast forward to 2030 in my opinion, I am not a futurist but my opinion would be, if you look at the top 30-40 most valuable companies in the world there will all be technology companies. There will all be companies that have leveraged artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, distributed ledger, internet obtains, quantum computing. For you to compete in a hyper-connected knowledge and economy for speed, the most important currencies you have to have a strong technology underpinning.
Covid-19 is permanently reshaping the way we live and work. Some of the behaviors developed in crisis—including wide-scale digital adoption—will outlast the pandemic, well after restrictions on activity are lifted. To stay competitive, organizations must respond to these behavioral changes and meet emerging customer demands. Digital transformation is more necessary during this crisis, not less. But that does not mean it will look the same as it did before the pandemic.
Resources—both in terms of talent and money—will likely be constrained. Digital initiatives may need to be reprioritized based on relevance in the current environment. As Mr. Afshar says every business is slowly but surely becoming a digital one. I can not agree more with him that we HAVE to adopt a different mindset for the future. We MUST adopt the beginner’s mindset and unleash our superpowers to adapt to changes in the world. Because the world is changing every second. Covid is here to stay for a long time, but we can adapt to it as intelligent creatures. We can learn to live with it, overcoming it, and changing our perspective for a better future.