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Disruption and Transformation in the Pandemic – Digital Disruption (Part 1)

Part one of a four part series discussing disruption and transformation during the pandemic. Part one looks at how the pandemic has disrupted our work, society, and the way we use technology in business.

The pandemic inarguably introduced new kinds of disruption, but in certain areas it simply accelerated changes that were already underway.

Remote working wasn’t a new concept, but had long been thought of as a working method only suitable to specific roles and industries. The rapid shift to lockdown and the ‘world’s biggest work from home experiment’meant that organisations who had previously not thought of themselves as remote-friendly had to sink or swim, rapidly adopting digital solutions to facilitate online work and communication for employees.

Similarly, digital transformation was markedly on the rise pre-pandemic. However, COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation and communications by a global average of 6 years. It’s become a case of ‘sink or swim’ for many organisations, as many of those unable to manage the transition to new ways of working and product and service delivery have found themselves really struggling.

This digital surge has spilled into our personal lives too, as we move to ‘everything online’ – relying on technology to keep us connected and to access goods and services.

Digital Solutions to Pandemic-Induced Challenges

Businesses have had to remain adaptable, visible, and accessible, identifying new ways to communicate with their employees and customers – whether clients, patients, students, or shoppers – essentially overnight.

A huge issue was how to allow employees access to company files and data from home. The cloud was the obvious answer here – again, cloud migration was something that was on the uptick prior to the pandemic – but aside from the logistical issues with migrating data, often from outdated legacy systems, to a cloud solution in a hurry there were critical concerns with data privacy and security.

Cloud security has long been a reason for companies holding back from adoption of the technology – particularly when it comes to companies in heavily regulated or public sectors. However, most businesses didn’t have a choice.

Another pressing concern for organisations was how to keep a newly distributed team connected and productive, and ensure communications channels remained open for customers and clients. The business landscape had to be completely reimagined, and communications technology has been at the heart of this.

Video conferencing software has played a critical part here, (the platform that springs to mind being Zoom) which went from being primarily a business tool to one used by households across the globe.

However, businesses needed to take things further with collaborative, highly functional platforms, and digital project collaboration software (for example, Microsoft Teams) was a lifeline here – paving the way for a flexible remote working model for employees.

Over the course of the pandemic these digital collaboration and management tools have also been developed and scaled along with business needs.

Are these solutions here to stay?

People will naturally miss the human interaction in periods of restriction and look forward to life returning to normal, but the fact is that many of the changes introduced as emergency measures are likely to stay. The ‘new normal’ will be significantly different than pre-pandemic life – and the ‘everything digital’ trend won’t fade any time soon, whether it is facilitating or replacing the services we need.

Digital technologies have also opened up future remote work opportunities. We’re realistically looking at a hybrid working model for the majority of businesses, who have realised both the feasibility and benefits of having a distributed workforce. In addition, the significant investment into a new, digital infrastructure to support said workforce heightens the likelihood that this model will continue post-pandemic – and that further digital transformation will still be a priority.

Join me for part two of this series, discussing how these new and improved technologies have disrupted and helped business and society, and the trends that look set to thrive beyond 2021.

If you’d like to talk about ideas for your current or upcoming digital transformation project then please do get in touch – even if it’s just for an informal chat to get a feel for your options.