Critical aspects of digitalisation for the New Normal

How does the current crisis affect companies in all sectors? What measures can they take to avoid losing competitiveness? What was their real degree of digitalisation and how can they adapt it to the current situation? At GFT, we want to help answer these and many other questions that might arise in the current circumstances. To this end, we have developed a new method for diagnosing the degree of digitalisation of an organisation and have identified five key digitalisation pillars with 19 aspects to prioritise in times of pandemics.

Over the last few years, a large number of companies around the world have digitally transformed themselves. This is not an easy change. Many of them have faced uncertainties and a certain level of experimentation when defining strategies to achieve higher quality service for their customers. But now, the health crisis caused by COVID-19 has completely changed the approach, the rules and the prioritisation of any transformation process. Are organisations really prepared to respond to the current context?

We are facing a global challenge in which, by joining forces all together, we will succeed in building a new society. In this respect, at GFT, as a specialist in digital transformation and innovation, we have been analysing over the last few weeks how this crisis is affecting companies. To help our customers at such an exceptional time, we have designed a method for carrying out a customised diagnosis of their level of digitalisation, to enable them to make the best decisions to accelerate their transformation and evolution process.

In total, we have detected five pillars with 19 key aspects that organisations should revisit and analyse, in order not to lose competitiveness and generate, at the same time, differential factors. In the sections below, you will find further details about these areas of improvement and change:

1. Focus on both digital and non-digital customers, as well as employees

Until now, most organisations have focused their attention on customers that welcomed digital transformation with open arms, i.e. so-called digital clients. However, the coronavirus health crisis has changed all that and revealed the need to start focusing on segments that were previously underexplored and even ignored: the elderly, people with reduced vision, hearing or mobility, expats, SMEs, large corporations or other customers that were previously managed through a closer, face-to-face approach. Adapting products and services to serve these less digitalised clients is a significant challenge for most organisations. At the same time, digitalisation of the workforce is another urgent challenge if companies want to maintain their productivity levels during lockdown periods. Within this first pillar, the three key aspects are:

  • Convert and provide coverage to non-digitalised clients
  • Focus on employees’ health and digital productivity
  • Digitalise the other clients you used to work with closely in person

2. Established paradigms: Adapt to new behavioural Patterns

According to different studies, your habits or the way you interact with others tend to vary in cycles of several years, but the current situation accelerates this transformation and could plant the seeds for a permanent change in the way we behave. Nowadays, many basic rules have been dynamited, making it necessary to uncover new behavioural patterns to ensure service quality is aligned with customer needs. For example, until recently most of us felt comfortable entering a PIN code on a point of sale terminal or paying in cash, yet these simple things have now become a source of concern.

Consequently, a great deal of effort will be required in order to digitise tasks that previously required physical contact and to more rapidly shorten waiting times. It will also be necessary to redesign processes to make them completely digital (on-boarding, digital signatures, document sharing, ticketing, etc.) and to automate support tasks (call centre automation, intelligent assistants and bots, natural language processing platforms, automated document processing, etc.). Thus, the four key aspects covered in this pillar are

  • New normal behaviour
  • Contactless era
  • Redesigning processes to make them completely digital
  • Automating tasks to support the use of assisted/unassisted channels

 3. Rethink operational processes: Breaking down the walls of internal processes

Sociologists foresee transformations that will affect the way people interact, but it is not just a question of personal relations. It is also affecting the way companies operate because they have had to be imaginative and make use of technological tools to adapt to the new circumstances. Digital companies continue to maintain the same productivity level and those lagging behind are discovering formulae to keep operating while not on company premises.

In the business world, information is now better distributed than ever before. It was previously only available at the office or through VPNs with a limited number of connections. It has now become necessary to set up larger, more scalable communication channels to offer 24/7 service. Having all employees work on company premises is no longer preferable. This has changed priorities in terms of personal availability and now means that employee time can be adjusted to the task without affecting performance. For this to work, corporate tools must be provided that enable remote communication, but also flexible timetables need to be set up. New mechanisms can even be arranged such as working in shifts to provide service in different time periods with no need for employees to leave home. The right work-life balance must be found. Time management is now handled differently, which means that routines and timetables should be established to meet specific goals. The time has come to rethink processes, not only for the time being but for the future. When employees go back to “normal”, nothing will be the same because they will have discovered new ways of doing things and these effective new methods should remain in place. For this reason, the key aspects of this pillar are:

  • Check and stress test infrastructure and tools
  • Modernise the portfolio of collaboration and work tools
  • Changes in operating, organisational and distribution models
  • New work model with good work-life balance

4. Urgency: Embrace exponential technologies

The lockdown of most of the world’s population has now given us a window where we can watch what is happening: the digital window on the screen of our mobile phone, tablet and computer. Although information is now more accessible than it has ever been before, we actually feel more insecure and vulnerable. Personal data protection is fundamental since the movement of data has increased exponentially. Countries are watching out for citizens’ physical safety, but have also started checking people’s movements to ensure they are in a safe environment. We disclose our data and relinquish control of it so we can feel sure we are protected. As a result, cybersecurity has become key for both companies and countries. We can no longer delay the adoption of new technologies such as large-scale data processing in the cloud, the IoT and the Spatial Web. Just a short time ago, many projects were left in the experimental stage but now is the time to start them up through innovation, with the aim of quickly leaving the crisis behind us. The key aspects of this pillar are:

  • Adoption of new technologies
  • New data processing rules and requirements
  • Preparing platforms that enable continuous, exponential changes
  • Being prepared to adapt to new trends and needs 

5. Leverage opportunities: Uncover new ideas and emerging business models

It is in times like these when we demonstrate our capacity for adaptation and reinvention. In crisis situations, we have seen how the imagination immediately starts redesigning the things that just do not work anymore. It is an opportunity to generate new business models where virtual solutions have greater value.

For the time being, what people need is human interaction through digital platforms. This is where solutions based on voice communication and conversation make the most sense. Having more digital platforms will mean that people working at positions that until now involved a high level of physical interaction can become remote agents, with the support of smart assistants to be able to respond to the high demand they will have to deal with. New roles and responsibilities will emerge and we have to be ready to face the challenge. The key aspects of this last pillar are:

  • The shift from physical to phygital for greater safety
  • New human interaction models in digital environments
  • Platformisation and changes in service distribution channels
  • New business models

At GFT, we also want to make a contribution and help our customers clear up their questions in their path to digitalisation at such an uncertain time. If you are interested in finding out more about our Digital Transformation Diagnosis, download our latest Point of View paper.

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