Every company around the world has been affected in one way or another by the COVID-19 pandemic. The way we operate and progress has significantly changed and, without technology, it would have been nearly impossible for many to continue working. Thankfully, we live in a digital era where remote work is possible and this ‘new normal’ has made it even clearer how important it is to be up with times. Cloud communications platform Twilio has led a survey on the impact of COVID-19 for companies and enquired about how digital transformation played out over the past months for them. This survey involved 2,569 enterprises from a variety of industries and took place in June 2020 – from the results, it became clear that this pandemic has sped up companies’ digital strategy by an average of 6 years.
Below, we’ll have a look at some of the most common barriers that COVID-19 seems to have broken down over the past months – and, with the help of Twilio’s survey on enterprises and COVID-19, note the percentage of companies that would confirm seeing such changes take place.
Digital changes that were already in the pipeline for numerous companies evolved from taking years to be implemented to coming into effect in just a few weeks or days. 37% of companies said that COVID influenced the clarity of their business strategy – in a world where you can’t be certain about the way the future will look like, giving out clear instructions on the next steps a company should take is essential.
At the same time, 37% also noted that getting executive approval became less complicated than it used to be. There is less time spent discussing whether a matter is a priority or not, and if something new needs to be implemented, companies are no longer waiting around to make it happen.
Technology and company software are more essential than ever before in this new era, businesses can no longer delay the implementation of new technologies or the update of legacy software. 35% of the surveyed enterprises confirmed to have seen a change in the way they approach software updates, what before could have waited a few months to be updated, is now a priority.
If there is one thing that COVID-19 has demonstrated, it is how numerous companies can continue to operate remotely. Driving operations forward and continuing to veer towards the company’s goals is possible for as long as the necessary technology is available – that’s why 79% of enterprises have seen an increase in the budget dedicated to digital transformation. Competition between companies has not ceased to happen and if you are the one business that struggles to continue to work digitally, then you are significantly disadvantaged. What once was an advantage, is now essential.
If something needs doing and it’s important to the company, it has to happen now. No longer we can afford to blame a lack of time to postpone tasks that are a priority, and 34% of companies have confirmed that the way businesses plan their time has changed. Going alongside the increased clarity of strategies, enterprises are learning how to best operate under these times and how to reduce the delay of any important operations. The decisions that would have once necessitated time to be approved and get going, can now advance without delays.
Some companies, especially those in the tech industry, already alternated their operations between days at the office and working remotely. Now, 99% of the businesses surveyed by Twilio agree that remote work is something that will be more frequent in the future and that all the new digital technologies implemented over the past months will help facilitate that. Out of all the industries involved in that survey, the majority that seemed more in favour of continued remote work were the technology, retail, healthcare, and energy industries.
Covid-19 allowed for companies to explore this option more thoroughly and to potentially cut down on extra costs even in a future where office work goes back to being the norm.
There was another element that most companies around the world, more specifically 95% of the ones surveyed, agreed on: the need to find new ways to engage with customers. Once the ability to communicate with customers in person was removed, all communications suddenly relied solely on social media platforms, live chats, and emails. Those who had already worked on their online platforms to engage with customers across all channels were at an advantage compared to those who stayed offline until it became an actual necessity to join other platforms.
The way to communicate didn’t only change for customers, we also saw an internal transformation in the way tasks can be delegated, meetings can take place, and staff can communicate with each other. Even those companies who never before used digital channels to communicate found themselves using video calls and a variety of digital communication platforms and apps that allowed them to effectively coordinate work and share insight. These changes are hardly temporary, and even with a return to the office, can still be implemented to work more efficiently.
The above shifts are ones that a few companies were already heading towards, with the rest planning to follow in the next years. What Covid-19 has significantly changed, is the timeframe in which enterprises around the world have come to welcome these digital changes. In a way, it has given room for businesses to innovate and adopt new solutions that will help them stay competitive for many years to come. In other words, it has made it critical for companies to go more digital and those who were not yet prepared for this transformation are left behind with a lot of catching up to do.
Overall, what is important is not solely that enterprises around the world start welcoming this digital transformation, but that they continue to keep transforming over the years to always stay ahead of the times and remain competitive.