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The Journey to Digital Transformation: A Time for Introspection and Projection

May 11, 2020

by Madalina Bisog, Director of Consulting

With technology evolving at an exponential rate, faster than the human intuition can capture, digital technologies are making their way into all aspects of business, disrupting traditional markets, value-chains, and business models.

In anticipation of such disruptions, many companies have embraced the advancement of technology and embarked on digital transformation journeys by rethinking not only their core business strategy but also by capitalizing on new business opportunities brought about by these technology-enabled disruptions.

One compelling outcome of the Covid-19 pandemic is that more businesses are starting to realize the benefits of increased digitalisation and while some are accelerating digital transformations that were already in motion, others are just now tapping into the opportunities of digital transformation.

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic forced the adoption of technology not only on private actors, but also on digital laggers in the public sector. While some countries were properly set up to swiftly adapt to the new context, many were not. Across the globe, the pandemic is forcing large-scale innovation in the public sector at an unprecedented pace and public servants are learning how to master new technologies on-the-go while adapting procedures and processes that have become obsolete overnight.

As this crisis has fundamentally impacted the society as a whole, we are also witnessing the emergence of new ecosystems characterized by closer ties with customers, employees, and suppliers in the private sector; a more open collaboration with a variety of actors, be it regular citizens, businesses, civil society organisations or other public actors in the public sector; and increased cooperation between the private and public sectors.

The digital revolution, now fast-tracked by the effects of Covid-19, provides innovative and accessible means with potential to boost economic growth and to improve the quality of life for most. Thus, despite the challenges, this moment of crisis presents itself as a good opportunity for businesses and governments to advance their digital agenda.

During this period of significantly reduced business pace, private organisations should identify and prioritize pain points, reassess internal operations and audit their supply chains, all the while looking into how existing and emerging technologies can enable them to deliver better customer journeys. Even though it is too soon to discriminate which shifts will persist past the crisis, businesses should not wait until the end of the pandemic to find out, but they should already be on the lookout for emerging needs and patterns within and outside their regular markets.

For governments though, the impetus for change is even greater, as besides jumping on their own digital transformation paths in order to better serve citizens, they also have a responsibility towards the private sector in order to ensure that businesses are able to function in the digital economy. On the one hand governments must use this crisis to accelerate investments in technology, increase cooperation and improve data literacy in the public administration, expand interoperability systems and improve the use of open government data. On the other hand, for digital technologies to enable inclusive and sustainable growth, governments must provide the regulatory framework and the infrastructure to stimulate e-business, pass data protection and privacy laws, raise awareness and facilitate access to funds for digitalisation in the private sector.

The journey to digital transformation is different for everyone, as each have different priorities and needs. Nonetheless, the experience of digital leaders revealed some common prerequisites to successfully navigate this process: a digitally driven strategy aligned with the organisation’s objectives, an enabling culture to support the strategy and authentic leadership to drive the strategy.

With the emergence of new digitally enabled business and governance models, digital transformation had been on the agenda of many companies and governments long before the pandemic hit. But with the crisis putting a lens on issues that can no longer be ignored, it is up to everyone, individual citizens and leaders, to use this time not only for introspection but also for projection and start taking concrete actions to shape the future we want to live in.

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