Addressing COVID-19 Impact on Businesses through Digital Reformation
The COVID-19 virus outbreak started as a regional health crisis, rapidly escalating to a pandemic, ultimately morphing into a global economic meltdown, one of the worst to be recorded in history.
Overnight international travel got banned, domestic travel got restricted, businesses and educational institutions were shut down, not to open until further notification, and people were mandated to stay indoors and live in a strange alternative reality.
After months of living like that, governments have started to loosen the lockdown. International and domestic travel is resuming gradually. Businesses are opening and offices are getting started. Soon the schools and universities will open their gates as well. The world is trying to bounce back to action, but will it ever be able to return to the ‘old normalcy’?
Coming to Terms with New Reality
The COVID-19 virus has not been eradicated and there is no sign of a vaccine yet. Considering the risks, people will still have to maintain the 6-feet-apart from each other, making social distancing a part of human living. It is safe to say that there is no going back to the old pre-COVID normal.
Moreover, months of staying confined and living under the threat of a virus outbreak have deeply affected the human mind, generating significant alterations in consumer behavior and mentality, which has and continues to impact the industries and service providers.
The pandemic has been enlightening for the businesses as well, exposing the drawbacks and flaws in the overall system and processes, which they are highly motivated to address and fix. It is fair to say that we stand at the threshold of a new reality, where legacy architecture needs to be refurbished and re-imagined to fit the changed norms and mindset of the consumers. An overall evaluation followed by strategized digital transformation through scalable solutions and innovative approaches is the need of the hour.
Ground-breaking transformations are taking place across sectors at this very moment, to fortify the future of all businesses through digital transformation and smart automation solutions. Global IT companies like IBM, Accenture, HashCash Consultants, etc. are the major contributors in this reformation with their specialized offerings of scalable services to different industries.
Reinvent and Re-imagine
Industries are adjusting to this altered pandemic reality, trying to meet the new mandates and consumer demands. They are exploring the economic and infrastructural challenges, addressing the same through accelerated adaption and adoption of automated digital solutions. As the world shifts towards an agile architecture, the industry leaders are spearheading the way, offering revamped services and solutions that fulfill the present requirements.
A Shift in Work Culture
Lockdowns might get lifted but people will still have to follow the social distancing regulations to prevent contagion, initiating a landmark transformation in the old work culture. Organizations might have been forced to shift their workforce to remote platforms to keep the operations running during the lockdown, but it didn’t take them long to realize the benefits of such a layout.
Most of the industry leaders have acknowledged that work from home is beneficial in terms of reduced establishment cost, enhanced productivity, flexible working hours, and augmented performance.
Companies are focusing on building a robust in-house architecture with integrated solutions that enable the employees to work safely, securely, and uninterrupted from a remote location. It is a landmark transformation in work culture that has been supported by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Barclays, Morgan Stanley, etc.
Crisis Management with Digitally Sound Healthcare
The healthcare industry has been at the forefront, fighting the pandemic and protecting the people. That does not mask the fact that it is one of the main sectors needing a reformation, considering the way the world’s leading healthcare systems collapsed under the COVID-19 pressure.
Hospitals, clinics, and diagnostic laboratories at the moment are working on creating a digital healthcare system that upholds the social distancing rules while offering the best medical solutions to the patients. The institutions are augmenting their existing operations with agile and scalable infrastructure through virtual collaboration tools.
Advancements in virtual doctor appointments and consultation, digital risk assessment of patients, and pharmaceutical ecommerce have been initiated in several healthcare establishments, which will further scale-up and evolve with time, ultimately creating a global healthcare system strong enough to defend the people from any health crisis.
Future-ready Schools & Universities
Governments are still contemplating the reopening of educational institutes, considering the risk of contagion it poses. Parents are also reluctant to send their kids to schools and universities under the looming threat of COVID-19. The education sector is deftly addressing this issue by reliance on remote education and smart e-learning solutions.
Even before the pandemic, schools, and universities were advancing towards agile remote education modules, the pandemic has just accelerated the trial and adoption of the same.
During the lockdown, several universities and schools conducted online examinations, with ease which is likely to become an alternative in the days to come. Instead of relying on third-party solutions, educational institutions are investing in creating their integrated system to conduct virtual classes, online assignments, and exams, virtual PTMs, etc. Although in a nascent stage, the modifications are meant to revolutionize the global education system making it more accessible and affordable to the learners.
Digital Banking at its Best
The pandemic has successfully accelerated digital banking solutions and its mass adoption. Both commercial banking and retail banking is at the moment going through a fundamental transformation, with institutions trying to shift their manual and legacy processes into digital platforms, to minimize personnel interaction.
Consumer behavior has drastically changed in the last few months of lockdown. The people who were once reluctant to adopt digital banking avenues had been forced to use it when left with no other options. It gave them a chance to appreciate the ease and convenience of digital solutions.
In the days to come, banks and financial institutions will shift their major operations like loan application and approval, identity verification, customer on-boarding, and other banking services on scalable digital platforms, eliminating the need for any manual documentation. It is a transformation, that has already begun. Banking systems are also working to enhance their digital payment services to fit the needs of the consumers.
The Low-touch Experience Sectors
Low touch experience, is the magic remedy to make up for the decline faced by these sectors amid lockdown and a chance to scale-up for the post-lockdown days. Ecommerce has been a vital part of the retail business but that does not imply that a pandemic should close down physical stores forever.
While developing the ecommerce side of the business, retailers should think outside the box to make physical stores work amid COVID-19. The solution is in digital modifications, use of scalable apps for in-store management, chatbots for customer care and cashier-less counters made possible through in-app digital payment options are some of the probable options to try.
Hospitality is evolving as well. The shift had already started with big names like Hilton and Marriott, having some of their establishments eliminate the use of physical key-cards, by introducing mobile check-ins. Post lockdown, the entire hospitality industry has to implement ways that guarantee the low-touch and contactless experience and extensive sanitizing protocols to ensure the safety of the guests.
During the lockdown, realtors shifted to virtual open houses and property tours instead of traditional ways. It has made many within the industry to realize that such a virtual system can not only streamline their work but it will also allow them to complete more closures and expand their client base.
The shutdown of the manufacturing sector has already dealt a massive blow to the global supply chain. The industry cannot afford such a meltdown in the future and hence is motivated to introduce technologically advanced solutions to enable uninterrupted production even in a lockdown situation.
The thing about production units is that one cannot initiate remote working for the ones operating the machines and the supervisors. So, the solution here is to create an integrated system that minimizes human interaction to maintain social distancing. That can be made possible through virtual communication tools for employees and the management, advanced surveillance applications for the supervisors to do their job while not being present on the production floor, smart automation, data management, remote asset monitoring, and performance, etc.
The pandemic was a wake-up call to the world that it needs to evolve and change for a secured tomorrow. Businesses across sectors need to act fast and collaborate with technology providers for support and restructuring of legacy systems for a sustainable post-pandemic future.