Zenith Growth Vademecum series: Digital transformation during the pandemic

Some experts note that the current wave of digital transformation in many ways resembles the way doctors respond to acute medical conditions. Quick and decisive business interventions (technology implementations) are designed to stabilize the situation and reduce the immediate severity of a condition that could lead to the demise of the company. In the case of acute conditions, it is assumed that they are generally temporary – the patient will return to a pre-disease state after some time, and the intervention itself is considered necessary but also short-term. While the COVID-19 pandemic is currently considered to be a short-term condition, certain changes caused by it may nevertheless develop into chronic changes.

Two things are worth considering in this context. Firstly, which of the challenges and changes associated with COVID-19 will be long-term, and which transformational implementations addressing these challenges will stay with us for the long term (be part of the “new normal” and significantly impact business growth) – and whether these changes will affect all businesses (regardless of the industry). Secondly, what competencies should a company possess in order for the transformation to be successful.

To answer the first question, it is helpful to understand the perspective of the managers of the largest global companies. This perspective was verified by McKinsey, which conducted a survey of nearly 900 respondents (both company executives and senior managers) on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on technology adaptation in companies. Of the twelve changes asked about in the survey, we can see that three affected the majority of companies surveyed – they are multi-industry in nature and relevant to each company.

The first of the multi-industry changes relates to changing consumer behavior, especially in terms of addressing their sensitivities and needs related to health and hygiene. From a company’s perspective, on the one hand, this may mean the digitization of services – particularly visible in sectors such as health and pharmacy (remote patient consultations) or finance (e.g., remote contact with a merchant, accelerated transfer of banking services to the Internet), on the other hand – digitization (and automation) of the customer service process (regardless of the industry). The second concerns the increased demand for purchasing products via online platforms. The change is important because – apart from the need to develop the e-commerce offer – it is also connected with significant investments in logistics. Particular attention should be paid here to the development of the e-grocery category (food products), services that facilitate food delivery in a short time and partnerships related to it (e.g. Glovo application and Biedronka store chain). The third is related to shifts in the nature of work towards remote working. In this area, in addition to analyzing changes in the effectiveness of work (both increases and decreases), it is worth considering how such changes will affect the process of training and development of employees – and thus the development of the organization in the long term.

For each of these changes, at least 53% of respondents believe they are long-term changes (at most 27% believe they are not). Therefore, it is worth considering, firstly – whether and secondly – how to effectively incorporate them into the long-term strategy of the company of which we are a part. In the next article, we will focus on the latter aspect and analyze the competencies necessary to successfully carry out the transformation.

This article is the first part of Zenith Growth Vademecum series