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Digital transformation. Will Covid-19 boost digital transformation in the long term?

While the lockdown linked to Covid-19 has forced companies to accelerate telework and the implementation of digital sales channels, most observers see the pandemic as an accelerator of digital transformation.

“I think history will remember this crisis as the moment when the digital transformation of companies and society has suddenly accelerated. Together, we have laid the foundations for the post-Covid world”, IBM’s new CEO Arvind Krishna said during the ‘Think Digital 2020’ event in early May this year.

Consequently, facing the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, companies have urgently been deploying not only telework tools for their employees, but also digital channels in order to contact their customers as well as to sell products and services. Jacques Platieau, CEO of IBM Belgium, also noticed it. “During the Covid-19 crisis, it is estimated that 17% of Belgian employees regularly worked remotely, with a majority not doing it more than one day a week. However, the lockdown forced even the most recalcitrant company leaders to adopt telework. They had no choice: business continuity was at stake.” In order to illustrate his point, the CEO of IBM Belgium also mentioned that on March 15th alone, the Zoom videoconferencing service registered no less than 600.000 new subscribers. And its competitors Skype, Slack, WebEx and Teams were also very popular.

Digital processes

But beyond remote access by means of remote conferencing tools, companies have been forced to accelerate the implementation of digital solutions, whether for accessing or sharing documents and information; not only for their employees, but also for their business partners, such as suppliers, customers and prospects. It wasn’t just a matter of deploying new tools, but also of bringing together digital applications which aren’t always interconnected, whether it concerns business processes, production systems – ERP in particular – or administrative solutions, including invoicing, payroll, and more.

Luckily, many companies had already deployed IT infrastructure in the cloud (private, hybrid or public) and were accessing certain applications remotely, in particular by means of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), while others had relied on an external IT partner within the framework of an outsourcing contract.

Along with the implementation of such digital tools – often in a hurry, with the problems of urgently made choices, of the necessary recalibration of infrastructures and networks which are in high demand from now on, and of security – change management turned out to be particularly tricky, especially given the difficulty of clearly communicating the decisions made. We hope that these efforts will be maintained, or even reinforced, so that companies could become truly digital. “These changes must be accompanied by an internal change in mindset. Of course, the CEO must be aware of this evolution and make it a priority for the organization”, said Jacques Platieau.

It is encouraging that companies have relatively quickly become aware of the possibility of making cost savings by means of the digital technology, a strong argument during this crisis.

Stabilizing and strengthening the acquisitions

Now that the pandemic is taking hold, organizations will have to base their digital transformation initiatives on a real IT strategy and allow themselves to make their ongoing projects sustainable. Moreover, the IT teams must be relieved of the enormous pressure of the crisis in order to stabilize and strengthen the infrastructure, the applications and security. Why wouldn’t they rely on a trusted IT partner for this purpose?

“I think we will see an acceleration in digital transformation because many of us want to be ready to face a second crisis of this kind”, Jacques Platieau concluded. He predicts great activity for the digital transformation industry in the next few months and years.

Aprico Consultants is a consulting company specialized in the field of architecture and transformation of information systems. By resolutely accelerating the digital transformation process, we provide our customers with the flexibility, performance and competitiveness required to allow them to strengthen their market position and to improve their customer service.