COVID-19: A Catalyst for Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is nothing new, but the stakes are higher than ever before. The New York Stock Exchange has closed its famous trading floor, 5G-enabled diagnostic systems allow medical experts to conduct consultations remotely, and smaller businesses are moving online for the first time. Is it a case of “desperate times, desperate measures”? We explain.

In an effort to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, more and more countries enter lockdown. Social distancing and remote work – terms previously unheard of in certain fields – are now trend topics being practiced by millions worldwide. But in the midst of uncertainty, there is hope. The pandemic is paving the way for a shift in mindset as companies leverage new digital technologies to keep their operations afloat.

Disruption Leads to Digitization

Working from home presents challenges in itself, even for companies who are proactive in digital transformation. IT departments are tasked with finding pragmatic solutions to enable secure access to company systems and safe communication. Company leaders are having to be bold and courageous, in order to stay competitive in difficult times.

This could mean that the gap between digitized and under-digitized companies is growing. In the past, digital firms had a competitive edge in terms of scale, scope, and innovation. But now, rather than being an advantage or a luxury, digitizing IT and operating architecture is fundamental for public health and company survival. It’ll be interesting to see how a digital divide will play out as the pandemic takes hold.

What Can Be Done Now?

In an article from arcweb.com, COVID-19 has been likened to an incoming tide. Business leaders with greater perspective will be able see the breaking waves from higher ground. Business agility is key and adopting an agile mindset could be half of the battle. Giving the workforce access to video conferencing, VPN, and relevant cybersecurity training are all ways companies can remain efficient.

Automation is Everything

It’s likely that smaller companies will feel the most pressure during this time. Whether the workforce is depleted or not, insufficient cash flow because of a lack of automation will put a strain on the operation.

Automating manual processes may have been considered a long-term goal, rather than a solution for now. But given the current situation, priorities should change. For process industries, this could mean using virtual reality to create digital twins or improving data and analytics for remote access and maintenance.