Digital transformation in the age of Covid-19

Published on 29 May 2020

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Understanding the new normal

As industry and businesses attempt to wade through a period of unprecedented economic turmoil, they are taking stock of how best to maintain operational continuity. Supply chain, logistics and transactional models have all been thrown into question. Even the way in which we go to work has changed.

According to a recent survey by Gartner, over 80% of US employees worked remotely at some point during April 2020. The research also indicates that at least 40% of these employees believe this will still be the case once conditions have stabilised.

Where are we at?

The World Trade Organisation estimates that global trade volumes will fall between 13-20% in 2020. But even these figures are fluid as we wait to see how and when factories will fully reopen and whether or not there will be any secondary waves of infection.

So, where are we at? Nobody really knows for certain. While covid-19 has created new barriers for conducting business, other barriers have been removed.

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With traditionally analog-thinking industries travelling down digital pathways even before Covid-19, what are the expected impacts of Covid-19 on trade and industry moving forward?

Where are we going?

Viewing tomorrow through the lens of today is difficult, even in the most stable times, but what the initial data tells us is that, in the short term, there will be an unprecedented decline in international economic activity. To mitigate these impacts, businesses are increasingly turning to online strategies that increase connectedness and pivot away from traditional models.

“When we look at the usage of AI and cloud, I think it is especially going to accelerate also not just us, but how our clients are going to go on their digital transformations. And I believe this crisis is only going to accelerate that as we go over the next few months.”

Arvind Krishna—CEO of IBM

Adaptation

Digital transformation is more than the integration of digital technologies, it reshapes the way businesses fundamentally interact. While digital solutions in and of themselves are not a silver bullet, they do provide numerous ways in which businesses can navigate coronavirus-related challenges. Some examples:

  • Increased transparency and security for all parties involved
  • Easy expansion of a global outreach
  • Seamless transition from existing methods to digital versions

Converting existing business streams into new models is always daunting, however, in the current environment, industry and government initiatives are helping fund and drive the digital revolution. Massive financial stimulus packages across the world are incentivising businesses to look for innovative ways of doing business, for new and improved ways of staying connected.

Most experts agree that it is this more fully digitised version of a global economy will lead to a longer lasting and more robust economic recovery.


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