If there was ever any doubt about the importance of technology in our lives, this quickly dissipated when the Coronavirus pandemic hit. In a world where human contact was limited, businesses had to close their doors and professionals had to adapt to working from home. This meant a rapid migration to digital technologies and a heavy reliance on digital technologies – and this looks set to continue long into the future.
This burst in digital transformation made it abundantly clear that technology was going to be critical for making it through the pandemic and one of the most useful resources for homebound people was online shopping. What’s more, the ability to move their business online has been a saving grace for many businesses this year, proving that though e-commerce has become hugely popular over the last decade, until 2020 it was still very much in its infancy.
In this guide, we’re going to take a more in-depth look at how Covid-19 has been and will continue to push digital transformation.
It encouraged innovation
Let’s start with the most obvious way in which Covid-19 is pushing digital transformation… through innovation. When businesses are made to shut, social distancing is put in place and human interaction is limited, you have to get creative and technology made this possible!
Through the digital world, people were able to maintain some sort of normality and continue to go about their lives – even if they had to do a lot of it from their living room. New apps emerged and people found new and more efficient ways to use existing technology and online platforms to make their lives easier and to essentially keep the country from coming to a complete stop.
Moving from bricks and mortar to a digital world
Many businesses were forced to shut their stores for several months and some even closed their doors permanently because they could no longer afford to cover the lease. This meant that many moved their businesses online and joined the digital revolution, leaving bricks and mortar behind to help cut costs and ensure they could continue to trade.
There were also some providers that were no longer able to provide their usual services in person, with people unable to meet in groups. Instead, they had to quickly make the most of the e-commerce industry and digital technologies. For example, fitness instructors had to find creative ways to continue offering their services such as running exercise classes virtually using video tools like Zoom or Google Hangouts.
The e-commerce industry is booming
With people confined to their homes either through lockdown or shielding, being able to pop to the shop whenever you want was no longer an option and spontaneous shopping sprees certainly became a thing of the past, as all non-essentials stores had to close their doors. This meant people had to turn to online shopping to ensure they could still get what they needed, whether this was to be delivered to their home, a parcel collection point or even paying online to collect in store.
This limited the amount of human interaction required and was beneficial to both businesses and consumers as trading could continue. This move to shopping online has seen the e-commerce industry soar this year and this looks set to continue as more and more businesses move online.
Online and digital transformation has accelerated
It has been estimated that there has been a five-year shift in the e-commerce industry, with figures accelerating beyond all predictions. But it’s not only the e-commerce industry that has seen huge and speedy growth in 2020 but digitalisation of their customer service, supply chain and internal operations is said to have accelerated by as much as three to four years.
There’ll be a bigger shift from traditional to online advertising
With more people now doing there shopping online, it’s crucial that businesses target consumers online, where they spend their time. Over the last decade, there has already been a huge shift from traditional to digital advertising and the Coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated this even further.
Social media is no longer just an option, it’s absolutely crucial for businesses if they hope to succeed. There have been millions more sign-ups to popular social media platforms since the start of the pandemic with more people furloughed, at home or hoping to stay connected online. As such, using digital platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for advertising and creating a loyal customer base is more important than ever.
With people no longer just browsing past your store whilst out shopping, your following and advertising online are your foundation, it’s how you promote and drive sales to your goods or services. Moving forward we will continue to see a shift towards digital marketing.
Businesses have had to scale up, quickly
Many businesses had to quickly embrace the digital transformation when offices were told to close and teams had to quickly adjust to working remotely. In many cases, this wasn’t as simple as saying grab a laptop and work from home. Instead, organisations had to quickly scale up and invest in the technologies, platforms and security measures needed to keep the business afloat and keep their teams connected with one another. They had to wholeheartedly (and quickly) embrace the digital revolution if they wanted their business to continue operating despite the challenges the pandemic was throwing at them.
People have had to learn to trust in the digital world
Another outcome of Covid-19 was that people across the world had to learn to trust in the digital world, even those who may previously not have had much to do with online platforms or ways of working. For example, someone shielding might not have had the option to go to the shop or pop to the bank, therefore they’d have to embrace the digital transformation and put their trust in online platforms such as food shopping or online banking.
And last but not least, one of the biggest ways in which Covid-19 has been pushing digital transformation is through a shift in generations. Technology is no longer a toy for the younger generations! People of all ages have been forced to adopt new digital behaviours and sharpen their digital skill sets in order to be able to go about their lives and even run basic errands. So in its own way, Coronavirus may have helped to bridge the digital skills gap somewhat.