How digital innovation will help steer business resurgence after Covid-19
We will soon see what the world looks like post-pandemic, but what will the new normal be like for businesses to operate in? It’s unlikely to look like 2019 and we hope it’s not another 2020, but one thing is for sure; digitally based innovation has never been more critical for business survival, especially if a future lockdown isn’t to become a permanent shutdown.
We are witnessing an accelerated surge in digital innovation which is now seen as an urgent necessity rather than a luxury. Worldwide spending on new technologies and services is expected to reach £1.8 trillion in 2023, according to market analysts IDC, as companies invest more on new digital technology to improve internal resilience and efficiency and to strengthen customer and partner relations.
When the tide of Covid-19 recedes, it will reveal a whole new ecosystem for innovative businesses to operate in, along with the goliaths of those businesses that couldn’t adapt to survive.
Adaptation or extinction?
There’s no denying the instant and dramatic impact of Covid-19 lockdowns on all aspects of working life, requiring a rethink of business models, working routines and expectations as markets and behaviours are convulsed. Switching between total lockdown, partial lockdown and tiered restrictions has demanded a flexible approach as customer and employee behaviours adapt almost instantaneously.
Yet businesses are adapting, and those with an agile, digital focus have been more successful in their reaction to lockdown than most. Teaching establishments are using digital platforms to continue lessons, gyms have switched to running classes online and health organisations are collating and analysing vast quantities of data to save lives. Businesses, particularly in the retail sector, have developed products and services that are more easily accessed online. And everyone has found new ways to continue communicating to customers, suppliers and employees through a multitude of online platforms.
It’s likely that these changes in markets and customer behaviour will be here to stay and will lead to the need to adjust over-production, update offerings or fix weaknesses in supply chains. A largescale restructuring of business will drive a demand for downscaling, greater efficiency, automation, connectivity, integration and better use of data to exploit new opportunities.
Marketing has always existed in a state of flux as human behaviour becomes better understood and businesses strive to offer more value, relevance and convenience. New ways of online marketing, such as making more services available via apps that solve a fundamental problem, will likely become the key to future marketing campaigns and entrepreneurial start-up launches for reaching more customers.
In every sector, from banking to grocery shopping, entertainment to swapping utility providers, customers are now getting used to interacting digitally and a majority say they will continue to do so. Businesses that don’t respond by moving towards an integrated digital ecosystem will be left behind.
The field of digital technology is also advancing, with new concepts such as machine learning, Cloud computing or AI conversational bots quickly becoming everyday tools available for anyone to utilise
Successful digital innovation
For some companies, digital innovation has transformed their operation and UX, while for others it throws a lifeline. Technology isn’t a cure-all solution and how it’s applied makes a difference to its value.
Some businesses have innovation in their DNA and the surge in investment was part of a long-term plan, so they are already ahead of the game. These companies are also likely to have a holistic, strategic and joined-up approach which puts digital transformation at the forefront of everything they do and supports a long-term vision, rather than a piecemeal approach to introducing technology. This means thinking bigger than departmental good ideas for automating their system for processing orders or connecting databases. New technologies such as AI, machine learning, bots and edge computing enabled by an Internet of Things, are expanding the art of the possible but their introduction needs to be coordinated to be effective.
Digital transformation also works at its best when focused towards UX, empowering customers with greater connectivity, transparency while making more elements within the organisation customer-centric.
Investment in innovation is key, not only for new equipment and software but in recruiting the right talent to drive change, whether that expertise is recruited inhouse or a technology partner and at Incepteo we are already seeing an upsurge in enquiries from businesses looking ahead to the post-pandemic world.
Finding the right technology partner is key to the successful implementation of your innovation plans; they must combine software development expertise with an understanding of the business’s vision and wider business drivers. They should bring an entrepreneurial approach with corporate maturity to your digitisation process so that it supports the direction in which you want your company to grow.
Digital innovation moving forward
There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel with the imminent vaccination rollout, but we should not lose sight of the fact that our post Covid-19 world will still be a time of continued uncertainty with many economic challenges ahead.
It is essential that businesses understand and react quickly to customers’ needs. This is key to achieving a competitive edge and it will be digital innovations which will deliver new business opportunities as well as allowing “business as usual” to continue.
A study of business leaders illustrates clearly the impact digital technologies can have on a business:
- 93% believe technology is critically important or very important to retain a competitive advantage.
- 80% of business leaders who have completed the digital transformation report increased profits.
- 85% experienced increased market share following digital transformation.
- They expect 23% higher revenue growth than for competitors.
Taking bold steps
Predicting the future is an inexact science at the best of times, particularly when trying to assess how markets are changing. However, it would be remiss of any business not to prepare for the anticipated release of pent-up energy as restrictions on economic activity are finally eased. Digital innovation is likely to continue at pace and developments that would have taken years to mature will now be measured in months as companies embed innovation into their business strategies in response to the new environment.
They are going to need technology partners like Incepteo, who understand their business vision to help them develop a digital transformation strategy that significantly improves their long-term prospects.
There is still time for companies to prepare for the post-pandemic world, to learn to innovate and to come out of this stronger than ever. But now is not the time to take a “Wait and see” approach.