Covid-19 is already massively altering humanity and our global economy. There is no doubt that this pandemic will have widespread and long-lasting implications. As cases are recorded globally, and recent reports showing that nearly a quarter of the world’s population is now under some form of lockdown, an increasing number of companies are facing incredibly worrying times due to supply chain disruptions, diminished customer demand and government-enforced social distancing, among other challenges.
However, while there is no fixed end date, no vaccine to combat it yet, nor any approved medication to slow its reaction in the human body, the world is starting to adapt to the new operating conditions we find ourselves facing. In the blink of an eye, everything has moved to working remotely. Universities across the world need students to take classes and exams online, global healthcare agencies need to know who someone is remotely instead of having them visit clinics, and essential services like grocery stores now need contactless deliveries.
Realizing the importance of digital transformation
It’s essential that enterprises build in the necessary operational resilience to survive this new reality. The Covid-19 pandemic has showcased the value of IT and digital transformation and organizations should use this time to accelerate the transition. IDC conducted a survey in China last month and canvassed the opinions of 32 CXOs in 10 industries regarding the value of IT and digital transformation in the fight against the outbreak, the impact of the new corona virus on corporate business and new digital transformation measures after the pandemic.
They had some interesting findings. The top three negative impacts of Covid-19 on enterprises were highlighted as a significant decline in sales performance, inability to resume production and an inability to visit customers. However, the top three positive impacts were cited as improved corporate ability of long-distance collaborative work, gaining ability of online marketing and business development and lastly, wide recognition of the value of digital transformation and information technology among all employees.
Sandy Shen, senior director analyst at Gartner, said it best: “This is a wake-up call for organizations that have placed too much focus on daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital business and long-term resilience. Businesses that can shift technology capacity and investments to digital platforms will mitigate the impact of the outbreak and keep their companies running smoothly now, and over the long term.” This statement, in hindsight, seems like something we, as business leaders, have known for years, but not until it is forced upon you do you truly understand the real need for this digital transformation shift.
Establishing trust in a digital world
Countries with stronger Covid-19 restrictions, such as Italy, have seen a surge in online learning, streaming and shopping at ecommerce sites. Companies are evolving to become more digital with an increasing number of interactions with customers happening, not in person, but over a screen. These digital transformation efforts start with creating new accounts online. Digital identity management is often unrecognized in an organisation’s digital transformation strategy but is vital as companies must verify that a person’s digital identity matches their physical identity when conducting any business online.
This not only provides a better user experience, but it can also deter online fraud and help meet stringent compliance requirements, such as KYC and AML. It’s telling, though not unsurprising, to see which industries are experiencing a boom in online business as a result of the pandemic – banking, financial services, food delivery, and even gambling are all seeing significant upticks in new customer sign-ups which, in many cases, is helping offset the losses from in-store sales.
Unfortunately, many companies still tether their customers to their physical stores or branch offices to create a new account, or even to perform routine transactions. This is going to be increasingly difficult to maintain with many of us now homebound and most stores in Europe closing for the foreseeable future. Those organizations that web-enabled their businesses are in a much better position to weather this pandemic, both in the short and long term.
Digital transformation covers a lot of territories, but starting with identity verification makes practical sense as it enables modern companies to streamline the customer onboarding journey. Users can then create new accounts and make transactions from their smartphones and computers 24/7 without ever having to leave their homes. Of course, a focus on digital transformation isn’t new. Companies have been pushing for digital account opening for the last few years, but it is likely that Covid-19 will be the catalyst to push this transformation over the finish line.