Digital Transformation Remains a Key Focus Area For Organizations In 2021 Businesses that are rapidly developing digital strategies and executing on them are in a position to leapfrog their less nimble competitors

By Sameer Nigam

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Beyond a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has tarnished economies and lives across the world. Businesses and organizations in India had started to pick up the fallen markets, that's when the "second wave' of COVID came gushing, pushing all the efforts in vain. The 'second wave' of the pandemic is delaying business normalization in the country, as coronavirus infections are again on a rise.

The second wave has surely taught us that this pandemic and its impact are here for a long stay. Maybe it will go down for some time but it will surely re-appear. Restricted human interface and remote working model appear to be the constant functioning criteria. Many organizations had created temporary solutions to meet many of the new demands on them, and much more quickly than they had thought possible before the crisis. But looking at the scenario these changes need to be long lasting. In fact, emphasis on going digital in as many aspects as possible has increased more than anything else.

To stay competitive in this new/post-pandemic business and economic environment requires new strategies and practices. It recognized digital technology's strategic importance as a critical component of the business, not just a source of cost efficiencies.

As per the new McKinsey Global Survey of executives, their companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years. And the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios has accelerated by a shocking seven years. The responses to COVID-19 have speeded the adoption of digital technologies by several years and that many of these changes could be here for a long haul. The executives stated that their companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions.

Businesses that are rapidly developing digital strategies and executing on them are in a position to leapfrog their less nimble competitors. Digital transformation in and of itself isn't a panacea to all that ails businesses in the current economic environment. They do, however, have significantly more tools at their disposal to not only weather the storm, but to come out the other side stronger for it.

The top digital transformation trends which are changing the game organizations in 2021 and helping them meet the demands of the post-pandemic world:

5G is expected to go mainstream

Faster connectivity has always been the top priority for people both at home as well at work. COVID-19 only intensified this demand as workers left their offices in well-connected areas for at-home offices in the sprawling suburbs and beyond. We need better networks to keep everyone connected.

Analytics prove a competitive advantage, still

Companies which aren't heavily invested in analytics probably won't be in business in 2021. Using big data and analytics has always been on a steady growth trajectory and then COVID-19 exploded and made the need for data even greater. Now, as businesses are in re-opening phases, data and analytics are used for contact tracing and to help make other decisions in the workplace.

AI and machine learning

As data continues to grow exponentially, data without technology to analyze it, is useless. AI and machine learning have exploded in recent months as businesses turned to the technology to gain insights into their data.

Blockchain

Blockchain, if deployed correctly, has the potential to fix damaged supply chains by processing and verifying transactions quickly. This could be the perfect catalyst for making blockchain a necessary technology moving forward.

RPA/IPA will see more growth post-COVID

If there's one thing that can help keep a company moving when employees are unable to be physically present in the office, it's RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and its sister concern IPA (Intelligent Process Automation). Even as coronavirus passes, we'll see more and more companies looking to offload as many tasks as they can to ensure that business runs smoothly once the next global disruption occurs. This isn't so much about displacement of work as it is about up-leveling and automating the mundane.

Conversational AI

During the coronavirus shutdown, one thing that took a major hit for all companies was customer service. One way to solve that: a highly trained army of conversational AI bots ready to answer customer questions and keep their worlds moving — even as your customer service team is out of service. This technology has the attention of the world's largest tech companies. From voice-controlled video collaboration to your personal assistant on your mobile device to the chatbot helping you with online shopping.

Sameer Nigam

CEO, Stratbeans

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