By Warren R. Bituin
As the pandemic slows down in many parts of the world, many companies will find that digital technology will be one of the most powerful options for recovery during this next phase of the COVID-19 crisis.
Businesses will also undertake this challenge despite severe obstacles which include inconsistent revenue, disorganized workforces, broken supply chains, and a persistent lack of investment capital.
In the Philippines, companies have been forced to adopt new business models, including managing a hybrid work environment, expanding on digital business channels, and providing customers with a more pleasant and holistic digital experience that increases engagement.
Many organizations still struggle to embrace these new technologies. Their legacy technologies have been deemed a liability as they hamper their ability to quickly adopt new and improved way of operations. As the cyberattack threat increases, they are also now more susceptible to cyber incidents as cybercriminals exploit opportunities in these newly digitized operations.
Because of the nature of this unprecedented environment, digital technologies are one of the most effective solutions for recovery. More specifically, a proactive technology strategy built around adapting operations and building resilience can equip businesses with a stronger competitive edge as they recover from the pandemic.
ADAPTING BUSINESS OPERATIONS IN EVER-CHANGING CONDITIONS
Facing uncertainty during this pandemic is one of the greatest challenges businesses must address. The impact of COVID-19 on the economy as well as in our daily lives continues to evolve. This presents an unknown operating environment for enterprises.
The capacity to adapt to these challenges will be crucial in this new way of doing business during these ever-changing conditions. Although it will be difficult to predict how conditions may change, companies can utilize these key actions as discussed in a recent EY article on how embracing technology can bring success:
• Reevaluate infrastructure to support a hybrid workforce. This includes a flexible communications plan that supports the return-to-office situation. New infrastructure will benefit the company more in the long run by helping facilitate collaboration, remote working and higher levels of automation in operations. Teams will be able to better manage resources, track production, and protect the enterprise through a collaborative software platform.
• To ensure business continuity, cloud adoption will help business operations transition more smoothly to support an ecosystem-based approach. This will allow more collaboration and connection among various teams that will improve decision making. Using the cloud will also allow companies to ramp up and down its supporting infrastructure as economic conditions change, linking suppliers, customers, shippers and employees to gain a flexible advantage.
• Automation remains a key pillar of any digital transformation for a business. This offers tremendous potential for leaders looking to drive transformation in their organization: from cost savings and increased delivery speed to new operating models, to higher-value efforts for their people.
BUILDING RESILIENCY AND FLEXIBILITY INTO THE ENTERPRISE
New business models are being introduced because of the pandemic, such as hybrid work situations where employees work from home and in-office, a digital experience that boosts customer engagement, and the acceleration of digital businesses at the expense of traditional physical channels.
However, many organizations have struggled to catch up and be more digitally prepared. Traditional technologies — always high-cost and slow-moving — have become a much greater liability. Moreover, as hackers take advantage of newly digitalized activities, more companies are now frequently being targeted by cyberattacks due to their lack of adequate cyber protection.
Focusing on the following three key areas can help companies build a more resilient and flexible enterprise where digital technologies will be critical:
1. Restructure IT operations
Upgrading digital infrastructure can enhance digital sales channels, the virtual customer experience and direct-to-customer delivery methods. This is evident even in the case of public services where government agencies now allow a more seamless engagement with the citizenry. For example, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) now accepts not only tax returns but also payments via electronic channels. Soon, its e-invoicing facility will expand and further facilitate online interaction between the Bureau and the taxpayers, be it large or micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
2. Reevaluate digital strategy
Now is the time to assess which new technologies the company will need to improve on, such as expanding cloud infrastructure and contactless payments and adopting 3D printing and augmented and virtual reality. In addition, companies will need to make difficult decisions around replacing legacy technologies sooner than later.
3. Double down on cybersecurity
Companies should ensure that the virtual infrastructure is secure and that their data is safe and backed up. Leaders should also review their cybersecurity infrastructure and improve where necessary. Moreover, they must consider how to better support the security of third parties such as suppliers, customers and contractors. Companies should also keep in mind that strengthened security measures across its ecosystem should complement and provide a more effective defense against the current generation of security threats without slowing the business down.
ACCELERATING DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
According to a 2010 Harvard Business Review study that looked into how business fared during the 2008 recession, less than 10% of companies emerged stronger than before the crisis. They did this despite the global crisis by balancing strategic investments that focused on new technologies while cost-cutting through divestments.
With COVID-19 creating fundamental changes to how we live and work on a larger scale than in the 2008 recession, the gap will only widen between leading and underperforming companies. The successful businesses of tomorrow will be those that embrace and accelerate their digital transformation to fast-track recovery and create a competitive advantage in a post-pandemic world.
This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.
Warren R. Bituin is the technology consulting leader of SGV & Co.
By Warren R. Bituin