A 3-Point Digital Plan for the New Normal After COVID-19

To succeed in the new normal after COVID-19, business leaders must prioritize digital transformation and adoption.

Despite the financial downturn that has resulted from the pandemic, digital technology will become even more important in the near future.

In fact, some suggest that COVID-19 is accelerating digital transformation in a number of areas.

IDC research, for instance, found that the pandemic has:

  • Improved organizations’ ability to collaborate remotely
  • Helped to reveal the value of digital technology and IT for the entire workforce
  • Enhanced organizations’ online marketing and business development capabilities

Trends such as these, combined with the increased adoption of remote working software, robots, telehealth, automation, and a range of other technologies, will only further fuel digital transformation across the globe.

During the pandemic, business leaders have plenty of concerns and problems to cope with, from workforce safety to shrinking profit margins.

These concerns, however, do not trump the need for digitalization – if anything, they demonstrate the necessity of fast-tracked digital initiatives.

Below, we’ll explore three key areas to focus on when developing a digital strategy for surviving and succeeding in the post-COVID era.

A 3-Pronged Digital Plan for the New Normal After COVID-19

The new normal after COVID-19 – or the “next normal,” as McKinsey dubs it – will represent a fundamental paradigm shift. Economic structures, customer expectations, financial strain, and many other factors will reshape the post-viral economy.

A forward-thinking digital strategy is key to helping businesses stay resilient, agile, and relevant in that new paradigm.

Here are several areas to focus on when developing that digital plan:

1. Rewire your own business

Digital transformation can improve organizational performance, enable innovation, open up new avenues for growth, cut costs, and more.

Early technology adopters can often gain an advantage in their marketplace, increase market share, and improve their brand positioning.

Late adopters, however, often become laggards and struggle to keep up.

Since the economy is digitalizing so rapidly, businesses must transform if they want to keep pace and avoid falling behind.

Internal digital transformation efforts should focus on:

These types of efforts should focus on specific goals, such as improving organizational agility, increasing resilience, or preparing for changes in the marketplace.

With the proper strategic focus and investments, organizations will stand a better chance of succeeding in the new normal after COVID-19.

2. Exploit data and analytics

Data-driven processes use data to enhance and inform many aspects of the business, including decision-making, business process design, product design, and more.

There are many advantages to data-driven business approaches, including:

  • An increased reliance on real-world information, rather than preconceptions 
  • Improved insight and intelligence, wherever data-driven approaches are applied
  • Greater efficiency and performance in systems and processes

These benefits, among others, ultimately offer a competitive advantage to businesses that use data effectively – though, as mentioned, when data-driven processes become the norm, late adopters end up lagging behind the curve.

Organizations should therefore continue to adopt data-driven business processes, practices, and technology.

Here are a few areas to focus on:

  • Upgrade data-driven processes
  • Use data to enhance internal operations
  • Build a data culture
  • Create better products, services, and experiences

Like digital technology itself, data is not a luxury, it is a necessity. As we transition to the post-COVID new normal, organizations should continually improve their use of data and analytics.

3. Drive customer-centered change

Customer needs and expectations evolved rapidly during the first few months of 2020. 

Increased concern over health and hygiene, for instance, have changed buying habits and spurred new industry trends. Contactless payments, for example, became more popular among consumers, since these payment options are safer from a health perspective.

As many research firms have pointed out, customer behaviors will continue to adjust as we enter the new normal after COVID-19.

To keep up with those changes, businesses must also shift their focus.

Digital technology will play an increasingly important role in the coming months and years, since it can be used to create:

  • Unified customer experiences across channels
  • Experiences that adapt to customers’ changing expectations
  • Innovative products, services, and technology-powered solutions

Without the proper digital technology – or data-driven business practices – businesses will have a hard time understanding customers’ needs.

To gain insight into those needs and deliver products and services that are relevant, useful, and profitable, digital efforts should focus on a few key areas.

These include:

  • Solutions that offer real-time insights into customer behavior and sentiment
  • Integrated marketing technology stacks that enhance the omnichannel customer experience
  • Emerging technologies that will be in-demand in the near future, such as virtual and augmented reality
  • Technology that improves communications, such as customer care software

With the right technology and a lean, agile customer experience strategy, organizations will be positioned to deliver relevant, profitable products – even in a world that is constantly changing.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.