Chester Avey: Why now is a great moment to digitally transform your business

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There can be no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on how businesses operate. Of course, there have been many challenges for companies of all sizes to face – but with challenge come opportunities. If you want your business to be successful in the current environment, most crucially you need to understand how the situation affects your customers.

That means that you need to adapt to changing customer needs. While it might be tempting to ride out the current wave and see where you end up, now is the time to embrace new systems and ways of working. Failing to do so could inhibit growth in the future.

It is time then, to invest in the digital transformation of your business. But many companies don't yet fully understand the benefits or believe that they will be fine carrying on as normal. Here we take a look at why now in the middle of a lot of uncertainty might actually be the perfect time to digitally transform your business.

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation can mean many different things depending on your business and how you operate – but ultimately this term is the recognition that all areas of business and life in general are becoming increasingly digitised, and businesses must make changes in order to continue to be successful, or in some cases even to survive.

Many businesses have accepted digital transformation to an extent – selling online through a web store or moving their IT infrastructure to the Cloud – but there are many further aspects of digital transformation that are vital moving forward. This can include everything from developing digital products to improving your internal systems and processes.  

Reasons to act now

Thankfully, many businesses do understand that digital transformation should be considered a priority. According to a recent study, 70% of businesses have either maintained or increased their spending on digital transformation so far over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even in these challenging times, companies do appear to understand the consequences of reducing levels of digital transformation.

Of course, it is also important to point out that those businesses who are willing to put in the investment into digital transformation are those that will outpace their rivals. When those rivals do recognise the importance of making changes, it can be too far gone and too late to make the changes in time to catch up with competitors.

Changing customer behaviour

The important thing to remember about digital transform is that much of is dictated by the habits and behaviours of customers. It has certainly been the case through the COVID-19 pandemic that businesses are seeing customers exhibiting very different behaviour.

There has been a rise in the level of online sales – driven by the fact that high street retailers were forced to close as well as the greater number of being at home, including those shielding and unable to shop in person. This combined with increased use of applications, such as many pubs now offering order via apps, means that businesses must adapt.

Helpful for staff

For some businesses staff working at home was temporary but for many organisations the coming months will see a large percentage of staff working from home exclusively or spending only some of their time in the office or normal place of work.

To a certain extent digital transformation has occurred naturally as business have been forced to use apps like Zoom in order to continue working normally. However, it is always important to ensure that your digital transformation is well thought through.

Boosts company culture and employee retention

One of the reasons that now is such an important time to invest in digital transformation is the impact that it can have on your company culture and, as such, your ability to retain your top employees.

Digital transformation can be initially met with trepidation by members of staff, who may perceive it as threatening to their job – or not understanding what it means for them in the long run. However, typically digital transformation is actually hugely beneficial for staff, freeing up their time and allowing them greater levels of creative freedom.

Digital transformation is important to help retain the best employees and create a successful company culture.

Transform cyber defences

One part of digital transformation that has never been more important is that of cybersecurity. As the world becomes more digitally-focused, so does criminal behaviour. Cybercriminals are more sophisticated and organised than ever before. With more and more business activity facilitated by being connected to the Internet, that means organisations need to increase their attention to their cyber defences.

One of the most effective ways to do this is to work with cyber security firms that can offer a managed security service. Getting outsourced advice can be a fantastic way to maximise your cyber security and ensure you are protected as best as possible.

Final thoughts

Digital transformation is important – but it has its challenges. One of the major issues is a lack of digital skills, not only in terms of highly specialised skills but across the organisation. Businesses must find ways to spread their digital skills across the company rather than having it centred in IT. If you can overcome these challenges, now can be the moment to reap the benefits of digital transformation.