The financial and economic crisis of 2008 was a challenging time for businesses. I remember how quickly businesses adapted by taking their businesses online – the eCommerce boom. July 2008, the company I worked for was at a trade show and the warning signs were clear. We had to adapt, or get left behind. We founded a digital agency just as we passed through the outer edge of the storm. Riding through the storm, we helped numerous businesses use digital tools to transform, survive, and thrive when the world returned to a new normal.
In 2020, COVID-19 has unleashed another crisis. Like we’ve learnt from every other crisis, this is a time to take a moment to pause, think, and realign.
Through COVID-19, the digital adoption rate has been rapid. The lockdowns and social distancing made ‘online’ as the go to place. Even contact services such as Pilates classes and GP appointments moved online. I knew we were on an accelerated adoption trajectory the day my mom in rural India told me she attended her weekly class via Google Meet.
See, this is a serious problem for businesses! Consumers have woken up to the fact that distance is not a barrier. Time Zones maybe but not distance. One can access services from the best providers, no matter where they are located. I am not bound by the terms dictated by Yoga studios around my neighbourhood. I am on the Down Dog app, practising Yoga in my living room. I can customise the workout, focus on building core strength, and pick the music to accompany the session. This is the Blockbuster vs Netflix story all over again.
Mediocre just won’t cut it anymore. Businesses have to up their game – go digital and also be awesome.
The time for digital transformation is now
1. Take a moment to reflect upon your customers’ needs
Shifting consumer behaviour is not news but it has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s worth reviewing product and service offerings; re-strategize; make things better; and be courageous. Consumers welcome bold brands – we might hate Amazon for destroying the high street but love them for being able to deliver goods in a matter of hours!
2. Look out for opportunities and pivot fast
Embrace the opportunities that appear in the horizon. Look at your arsenal and ask yourself, “What else could I be doing?” At Flavours Holidays, we teamed up with our teachers, hosts and chefs to offer online experiences. This kept us working when our holidays couldn’t run. Through the crisis, we have now added a new revenue stream.
3. Put your first-party data to use
This is the data captured directly from your customers. This is your diamond mine. If you do not have a proper system to source and store this information, DO IT RIGHT NOW. Communicate; get in touch with your customers; show them you care; and tell them you are evolving. Bring about personalised user experiences.
4. Automate everything
Yes, this has been a hard and challenging time. We might go through waves until a vaccine is found. Yet, there’s light at the end of most tunnels. As we emerge out of this pandemic, we need to gear up for the automation phase of the digital revolution. Integrate your systems and create workflows to automate mundane tasks. Everytime you see a team member doing a manual task that doesn’t add value, find ways to speed it up to allow them to do awesome things. I used to waste about an hour manually assembling multiple images to create a collage in Adobe Photoshop. Now, I throw them into Adobe Spark and get its AI system to spit out multiple collage variations in minutes.
The digital revolution isn’t going to take any prisoners. Buckle and saddle up. There are more tools and software than one needs! Research and pick the ones that fits your budget and needs. Implement them by embedding them into the foundation and pillars of your business.