COVID-19 Is a Change Maker
COVID-19 is unchartered waters, but it may be a catalyst for change. It’s changing areas across the board—economic, societal, personal, and professional.
Everything about it has been rapid and unknown. It’s setting up the stage for a massive shift in how you grow your business, precipitating the need to lean heavily on technology.
It is a change-maker because of what it reveals in both gaps and opportunities. Let’s break this down further.
The Shift to Remote and Virtual Work
The disruption of COVID-19 led to a need to turn everything virtual. Companies had to rethink how their employees work, providing new technology tools to make it feasible and efficient. That, in turn, revealed to employers that remote work was possible and good for the company in many ways, including cost reduction and (some) happier employees.
The shift wasn’t easy for many organizations. It uncovered cracks in operations. For example, it made the transition to the cloud more critical. By putting everything in the cloud, employees have access to all documents and applications no matter where they are.
Grocery Adapts to a Fit New Needs
Supermarkets and grocery stores is another industry changing. Grocery stores were already starting to embrace eCommerce by offering pickup and delivery. However, it wasn’t really taking off. Now, the expected growth for the sector is 40% this year. That’s double the growth from 2019.
It was a necessity to offer no contact solutions in an industry where in-store shopping still reigned. Smart grocers understood the opportunity and began to shift efforts toward digitizing shopping. Even in a post-COVID world, this will remain a hot market. Consumers have tried it now because they were forced to, and now they’ll expect it as an option.
Technology leaders have a lot to rethink with their digital landscape. Moving rapidly and with purpose is the key to survival. They must also balance digitization and automation with the human aspect. The greater picture is that technology alone doesn’t solve problems. People, their experiences, and insights must be able to leverage it to drive change and growth.
Transformation Was Already on the Table
The discussion around transformation isn’t entirely new. Before the pandemic, 92% of companies said their business models would need to change due to digitization.
It’s been on the table as many organizations have designed a course to use technology to reinvent or evolve their brand. Right now, it may seem imperative to expedite these changes.
In thinking specifically about software development projects, revisiting your objectives is vital. Do they make sense for a changing world? How future proof are they?
Rethinking the Digital Landscape
As you reframe the digital landscape, here are some considerations moving forward.
Are Disruptions Always Dangerous?
An incumbent that still depends on an outdated business model is probably in danger. Emerging organizations with an agile mindset or a bold mover see this as a palatable risk. It means the change shifts to you in a competitive environment.
For example, think about the car buying experience. The automotive industry saw innovative disruptors like Carvana, which turned car buying into a completely virtual experience. This shift was attractive to many, especially digitally native shoppers.
Yet, traditional car dealerships haven’t made strides here until COVID. These dealers had websites, of course, to view cars. But the process –buying, discussing financing options, experiencing the vehicle -- was in person. They were already losing market share to Carvana, and even with pressure to virtualize the experience, they’d still been slow to adapt. Now, they are playing catchup in an environment that requires agility.
Digital innovation can be a disruptor in any industry. Designing specialized software for either internal or external purposes is disruptive in itself. That disruption usually causes a reinvention of your business model, which isn’t without risk. The difference is that you are managing the change, not trying to catch up or copy others.
Being a disruptor through the creation of software-with-a-purpose could offer a competitive edge right now and in the future.
Industries Continue to Vertically Integrate
Some of the most successful companies, don’t fit neatly into traditional industry definitions, opting instead to vertically integrate. Vertical integration means the development of an ecosystem where a company owns its own supply chain. It provides them the opportunity to reduce costs, diversity, and own the market.
It’s an emerging strategy that several brands are executing well. Apple is an excellent example. It produces most of its own parts for its electronics. It also owns most of its distribution channels. Further, it’s certainly more than just devices. They are now a full-fledged media company, creating original content.
Apple and others are penetrating markets that are no longer in silos. Industries are blurring, prompting more thought on how to keep themselves from becoming obsolete.
The best way to do this is through innovation.
- What’s the problem customers need to solve right now?
- How are you going to meet their evolving needs?
- Is technology or software development an avenue to help?
Amdocs, a bespoke solutions provider for telecom, answered these questions and found a way to diversify its business by developing a product that helped solve a challenge for its customers. They launched a new proprietary e-learning platform called Amdocs Academy.
It offers companies personalized tools to upskill their current employees. The adaptive system is based on roles, learning styles, and preferences. Amdocs expanded beyond their niche by reframing their position in the market and using custom software to do so.
Innovation Is Welcome, But Ideas Don’t Have to be “New”
There is a misnomer in the digital landscape that to make an impression, ideas must be “new.” Innovation doesn’t apply just to original ideas. It’s effective in reframing old challenges that have Band-Aid fixes.
First, it’s a good idea to look at your business model and find the cracks. From here, redefining goals makes sense. Then, building a plan to meet these is possible by leaning on innovation.
Second, adaptability isn’t an option. New opportunities are appearing quickly, and your organization should be ready to respond to new demands.
Hard contemplation and being purposefully agile should work in concert, never in silos. In this strategy, innovation will fuel them both.
Addressing Cost and Budget Concerns
The economic ecosystem is certainly impacting spending, leaving many with a bare-bones budgets or ones that are on pause. Rethinking your digital landscape is about weighing the risk and reward. This is a once in a lifetime situation, and to slam on the breaks may be more destructive then moving forward.
Innovation isn’t free. It’s an investment. If your software or digital project can bring in new revenue streams or reduce costs, revisit the plan. Don’t abandon it. Consider how to reallocate funding to get the process moving, so you can deploy or launch it.
Backlogs Are Growing
What are the options if in-house software projects stalling because of furloughs, layoffs, or remote work challenges? Putting more pressure on internal staff isn’t a likely one. To alleviate this, look outside to a partner that focuses on digital transformation needs, including strategizing, implementing, and optimizing.
You may need support in all areas, considering the scale of change. Seek out a digital innovation expert that aligns with a growth mindset and reveres innovation as a competitive advantage.
Assess Your Digital Landscape, Then Act
It’s time to assess where your business is in the digital landscape. Look hard at the roadmap you have. It could be time to toss it, or at the least, adapt it. Realign priorities and find opportunities for innovation. Then, plot out the necessary actions.
When it comes to the action phase, we can help. We’ve worked with industry leaders and mid-market innovators to support their digital strategy. Contact us today to learn more.