Digital business model transformation in the time of COVID-19


Covid-19 has presented unprecedented challenges and opportunities to the entire world. A new normal has emerged with the prolonged suspension of our everyday activities in all walks of life that is reshaping everything—work, school, consumption, entertainment, and more. Organizations find their regular approaches suddenly inadequate and they are scrambling to undergo a large-scale, if not complete, pivot to digital models to stay relevant and viable in a time of crisis.

Digital transformation has been accelerated

Indeed, organizations now have to learn and adapt in an accelerated manner to implement necessary digital transformations that allow them to remain in operation and keep engaging with consumers. Digital transformation has remained a key topic for nearly a decade. Instead of making an existing model digital, it calls for the integration of digital technology into all aspects of business fundamentally changing how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers.

And it is precisely this gradual, customer-centric initiative that Covid-19 has accelerated for countless organizations in the following ways:

Telecommuting is not an option but reality amidst lockdown

Almost all frontline employees have been forced to work remotely using available technology all while managing expectations around business SLAs and outcomes. It is critical that organizations invest in capabilities to train their employees in the right set of tools and provide just-in-time learning to address their skill gaps as they arise during this period.

Tele-learning becomes the new reality

As the majority of educational institutions temporarily close down during the pandemic, new business models in the areas of online collaboration and hybrid learning have emerged or moved closer to the foreground. Educational content as a service and collaborative tools will assume greater importance for consumers and organizations alike.

Business continuity takes on a new meaning

Covid-19 has infused the world with a sense of uncertainty, and people are understandably anxious as to when would ’normalcy resume. In this context, business continuity has become more crucial than ever, especially industries providing essential services.

Organizations in such industries are likely to leverage cloud-based Platform as a Service (PAAS) or Software as a Service (SAAS) solutions to enable remote—and secure—access to, as well as management of, critical applications. This will reduce risk for their workers, all while streamlining operations to ensure efficiency and continuity.

Events are going virtual

As governments around the world issue lockdown and social distancing orders, countless physical events have been postponed and cancelled. A growing number of creative event organizers have chosen to take their events online through streaming and even virtual reality. While a temporary measure, this could have lasting impact on what types of events are held and how.

The future of business to come

Cloud, online collaboration, robotic process automation, business process management, and content management are some of the technologies that will assist organizations in a time of lockdown, all while remaining customer-centric. This will be a taste of the future business models— one that will be tech-enabled, consumed in an omnichannel manner, and highly personalized.

Customer engagement is now digital

The shift in how prospects, leads and customers are managed and engaged digitally has perhaps been fast tracked, thanks to this pandemic. Brands are seeing the need to leverage their data from a wide range of channels and systems to deliver and continuously elevate contextual, personalized customer journeys through the right set of digital touchpoints.

The reorganization of supply chains

With increasing restrictions on movement to resist the pandemic, many offline retail businesses have been looking to incorporate product delivery in their business models. It may be prudent to first understand the existing ecosystem to identify potential fulfillment partners. We might see an advantage being gained by technology-enabled fulfillment services that utilize drones, robots and other innovations for delivery.

Considerations for a successful digital business model

Digitally transforming a business model is a complex endeavor, and it depends on the unique situation of the actual organization in question. However, there are some common considerations that many could take into account as they map out their own paths.

The product or service offerings should be simple, sustainable, and viable. Employees need to know how products and services will be provided to customers. They will have to acquire sufficient knowledge of how customers will be supported throughout their journey, including beyond purchase. Digital transformation is referred to what it is for a reason. The new business model cannot simply be a legacy one placed in a digitized mold. Organizations should explore and define what needs its new offerings will meet. It needs to analyze how effectively it will engage the target consumers and sell its products based on the new value proposition. The new business model must be able to expand the organization’s customer base without incurring much overhead, a key consideration for digital models. Digital transformation is by no means a magic bullet. It calls for a huge shift in the mindset of every employee as well as inculcating a new cultural environment conducive to effect the change. It is fundamentally a method to develop and sustain the creation of new products using technology enablers, while engaging consumers in a personalized, seamless journey from discovery to fulfillment and beyond. It is about borrowing the power of technology to reshape the existing business model to better connect with and service consumers in a rapidly shifting world.


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