This is a SYKES Digital Voice article, written by Jelle Wilders.
Global research from the consumer credit specialist Experian reveals that the acceleration of digital transformation, largely caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, has led to a dramatic increase in the need for greater insights into customer data. In the research, 84% of businesses have seen more demand for data due to Covid-19, but nearly a third say that data quality remains a fundamental barrier.
Changing customer behaviors causes a greater reliance on data
The annual Global Data Management report, which surveyed 700 data practitioners and data-driven business leaders globally, found that changing customer behavior has increased the need for better quality data. 72% say that the rapid push to digital transformation is making their businesses more reliant on data.
Don’t stop now
Forrester Research has issued advice to executives involved in digital transformation programs suggesting that they leverage this momentum. Their headline urges managers ‘don’t slow down now’ and they suggest that digital leaders get closer to their internal business sponsors to drive more transformation.
Digital Transformation – from agenda topic to an instant necessity (and opportunity)
Digital transformation was on the boardroom agenda before the pandemic, but there are several reasons why Covid accelerated demand:
There was no choice
retailers without an e-commerce platform were stuck during the global lockdowns. Some companies just had to immediately adopt new strategies to remain viable. Heinz is a good example. With so many retailers in lockdown, Heinz managed to get a Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) platform up and running in about a week. Now D2C is a growing area of business and allows the brand to build a relationship directly with customers.
Marketplace has changed
Although not as urgent as having no choice at all, many industries have been changed permanently by the pandemic and therefore need to adjust to a new normal. Restaurants using tablets so customers can order from their table without requiring a waiter might be a good example. Many industries will be trying to use digital tools to reduce human contact.
Opportunity to accelerate transformation
The best time to embrace change is when the alternative looks worse. Therefore all those companies with a 3-5 year view on how they need to digitally evolve will have evaluated those plans and said, let’s get this done in the next few months.
The shift to digital is not only accelerated by the pandemic – but maturity
In addition to the demand for digital transformation, I do believe that there are several other drivers that have changed corporate attitudes to this in the past year. The growing acceptance of a need for digital transformation has not just taken place because of the pandemic alone. Here are a few of my own ideas on why this is happening now:
- RPA/IA has evolved
Robotic Process Automation and Intelligent Automation once looked like they would never leave the Gartner Hype Cycle. Doomed to always be useful in the future, but not really finding a purpose today. That has all changed. Analysts that were previously skeptics of RPA are now predicting strong growth.
- Centers of Excellence
Centers of Excellence have become more common and company executives are becoming more aware: leaders have become aware that digital transformation isn’t just an IT concern, it underpins everything your company does today and can therefore make or break the entire organization.
- Higher expectations to deliver value
Customers expect services to be digital-first by default. Look at the banking sector for a good example. Any new challenger bank is launching services focused on apps with a highly customer-centric design – nobody is copying heritage brands for new services.
The Covid pandemic demonstrated to many leaders the importance of remaining agile and able to quickly pivot to a new business model. A combination of this experience plus these additional factors I mentioned are creating a stable road to the future for digital transformation.
What is your take on this?
Customer expectations are increasing. Are you considering how your business needs to interact with these customers next year and beyond?
Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or get in touch with my colleagues at SYKES Digital Services.