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Effective management of digital transformation is vital but challenging. This was the pre-pandemic reality. Even companies who had the right digital strategy in place ran a high risk of failure because of its execution. A 2019 McKinsey briefing points out that failure to be effective happened five times more often than success.

Now, with the added pressures of social isolation, working from home, and generally living online, going digital is no longer an option to consider but a required next step. While some companies have made preliminary steps in this direction, others were caught off-guard by these last few months and find themselves without strategy and execution altogether. 

In this new context, it’s important to have an overview of how businesses are reacting, how different sectors are responding to the changes, and what opportunities can be seized in order to not only survive but to thrive. 

What industries are capitalizing on the accelerated digitization?

Healthcare

Electronic health records (EHR) have been a focal point for most digital strategies in the healthcare system, but, like many other technological innovations, their adoption was slower than expected. EHR are a vital part of health IT, as the electronic footprint of a patient’s medical history which includes diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and laboratory and test results. 

When the COVID-19 crisis hit, data sharing between public and private institutions for the purpose of tracking the spread of the pandemic became a huge challenge. Although some health systems have drawn on EHR data to identify coronavirus trends and beneficial treatments, most health organizations did not have enough data or the means to process it effectively.

““Provider abrasion” or the negative effects of manual processes and busy work on healthcare providers have been brought into focus by the pandemic. By contrast, data-based automated processes have the capability to save precious provider time and stress by providing accurate and actionable data.”

Eric Rosow, CEO of Diameter Health via

A great example is that of Imprivata, a digital identity company that recently announced its partnership with Microsoft to provide an integrated identity and access management platform that meets the needs of healthcare organizations. Their joint solutions make it easy to connect to healthcare’s existing identity and application data and automate at scale.

Telemedicine is also on a growing trend - since February, the number of telemedicine investments has increased to over 30% of investment activity in Health IT in the US. As its adoption continues to grow, telemedicine is expected to be one of the rare sectors that will see COVID-19 as a net positive influence.

eCommerce

While the shopping & retail sector has not escaped the negative consequences of this public health and economic crisis, the overall impact has clearly accelerated its transition away from brick-and-mortar and into the digital space.

Statista reports that retail platforms have undergone a 6% global traffic increase between January and March 2020. Overall, retail websites generated 14.34 billion visits in March 2020, up from 12.81 billion global visits in January 2020. Visa also notes an 18% rise in U.S. digital commerce spending during the month of April, excluding the travel category, as face-to-face transactions fell 45% during the pandemic. In China, online shopping has increased 15 to 20 percentage points in February, while eCommerce in Italy has increased by 81% compared with the last week of February, according to a McKinsey case study.

You’ve probably also heard that Shopify’s market valuation has more than doubled since early April to above $80bn, beating forecasts with a 47% jump in first-quarter revenues.

Shopify evolution

via

Communication and collaboration tools

One of the heroes to help us adapt to the new reality, Zoom Video Communications reported one of the best earnings reports in history, growing revenue by 169% in Q1 2021, and doubling full-year 2021 revenue guidance to $1.8 billion. 

Zoom

via

A Gartner consumer-sentiment analysis has revealed that 35%of Gen Zers in the US have used video chat for the first time during the pandemic (versus just 6% for Baby boomers), while 54% of households with incomes greater than $100,000 have tried online streaming for the first time (versus 35% of those households earning less than $50,000).

At the end of March, Microsoft Teams set a new daily record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes in one day, up from 900 million minutes just two weeks earlier. In April, that number climbed to 4.1 billion meeting minutes in a single day.

With companies like Twitter announcing that they will allow employees to work remotely forever if they want, the future of videoconferencing seems bright even after all social restrictions are lifted. In fact, many companies that have learned to function and to perform remotely will likely continue to use tools like Zoom, Google, Facebook, or Slack to run day-to-day meetings and manage business interactions with prospective clients.

Accelerated technology trends worth watching

Cloud-first

A cloud-first strategy is an organizational commitment to consider cloud-based solutions before other alternatives. Unlike traditional on-premise software which is expensive to maintain, difficult to scale, and does not easily integrate with many modern SaaS solutions, cloud-based solutions reduce complexity and streamline operations. While larger companies have invested in a cloud-first strategy, small businesses struggle not only with the adoption of such a strategy but with connecting it to their overall business strategy.

In terms of the “Big Three” cloud providers, analysis from company earnings reports and customer surveys shows that Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) are closing the gap on AWS’s cloud dominance.

Earlier this month, AWS announced its collaboration with Slack to deliver tightly integrated, enterprise-grade tools. Enterprise customers can rely on Slack’s channel-based messaging solution, combined with AWS’s proven infrastructure and security services, for secure, reliable, and scalable communication. Slack and AWS will also extend product integration and deepen interoperability to help developer teams manage their AWS resources in Slack channels and Amazon Chime chat rooms with greater flexibility. 

XaaS

If you’re not familiar with the term, anything-as-a-service (XaaS) describes a broad category of services related to cloud computing and remote access. Anything-as-a-service is also known as X-as-a-service or everything-as-a-service, encompassing any computing service that is delivered via the internet and paid for in a flexible consumption model rather than as an upfront purchase or license.

XaaS was already on an ascending curve, with a market value of $93.8 billion in 2018 and projected to triple to $344.3 billion by 2024. Industry specialists believe the pandemic is only accelerating these projections.

This presents an opportunity for companies who already have a digital transformation strategy to reframe funding around XaaS. This would mean a switch from fixed capacity, much of which lays dormant, to variable cost models.

Process automation

UiPath, the leading enterprise Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software company, closed December 2019 with $360 million in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR), with net new ARR in the fourth quarter exceeding $60 million. Its clients include an insurer that used RPA software to deal with the spike in claims related to COVID-19 and delivery companies that used it to accelerate hiring.

The economic crisis caused by the pandemic may exacerbate the trend, as companies look for ways to become leaner and more competitive. Forrester Research confirms this prediction in their report The COVID-19 Crisis Will Accelerate Enterprise Automation Plans, where they signal a renewed focus on automation.

“Automation has been a major force reshaping work since long before the pandemic; now, it's taking on a new urgency in the context of business risk and resiliency.”

Whether they’re using robotic process automation, machine learning (ML), or the hybrid of both that comprises intelligent automation (IA), companies have the opportunity to scale up investments to augment their capabilities.

How do you adapt?

Start by clarifying where the value is going to be and create a roadmap that will get you there. One of our values at Thinslices is Entrepreneurial attitude, and it’s described by three action phrases:

  • Change is the only constant. Embrace it!
  • Every pain is an opportunity
  • Be part of the solution

Get alignment within your leadership team on the roadmap you’ve re-defined and identify the critical resources that will get you there.

Capitalize on XaaS to deliver your offerings.

Update your talent strategy. When the crisis is over, you need the right people rebuilding together with you.

Next, ask yourself what new market opportunities have opened up for you and how can you access new customers. Take the example of this European retailer who managed to launch a new e-commerce business in just 13 weeks. Draw inspiration from these early archetypes for post-crisis business builders

In the end, you might realize you need an entirely new business model, which may be a silver lining to this crisis. Define what you will sell (target customers and offerings, how you will sell (routes to market), and how you will get paid (monetization model) and turn this into an opportunity for your company.

 

 
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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Paula Clapon, Digital Marketer

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