By Tobiloba Kolawole
We couldn’t have forgotten so soon how Ebola, Zika, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) viruses have in recent years ravaged the world’s social-economic settings.
More than we could ever imagine, with thousands of people dead including many business and institutional deaths, the year 2020 will remain a remarkable year for millions of people around the world. From South Africa to Nigeria, Britain to United States, China to Korea, our lives, businesses have experienced a kind of disruption that is only to be imagined.
In no small ways, organizations and businesses in Nigeria, just like in any other parts of the world have been severely impacted and are still experiencing COVID-19 disruptions. There were concerns about how Board of Directors of organizations would meet as the law requires, how Annual General Meeting were to hold and even conduct elections and how to keep the distribution channel running. In other areas, there were issues of how pensioners, who only rely on monthly pension allowances would be verified so their pay doesn’t stop. Organizations like cooperative societies, professional and societal associations whose administration rely on elected officials had to think outside the box to carry on pending election electronically, yes, this is possible with some electronic voting system.
Organization’s exposure to COVID-19 did not only leave many Nigerians unemployed, it impaired distribution network, increased cyber security and fraud risk, increased the burden of both customer and employee relations.
COVID-19 isn’t the only disruption that we have seen, it is a part of the black swan experience of 2020 if we consider the changes in global oil prices, Naira devaluation and the EndSARS protest that turned violent. All of these fuels the shocks that test the balance and survival of organizations – where their operations are directly or indirectly affected.
As though the COVID-19 lockdown of not less than 4 months and attendant restrictions following the gradual easing wasn’t disruptive enough, the EndSARS protest also added its bite on an already stressed business environment.
These disruptions gave credence to the campaign ‘The Future is Digital’. Organizations had to seek alternatives
Because we haven’t possessed the capacity to really figure out when the next crisis will happen, it is important for businesses and organizations to position for resilience in the face of the next global threat.
“We expect that the COVID-19 threat will eventually fade, as the Ebola, Zika, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) viruses have in recent years. However, social-economic impact will still be felt long after the virus fades”, KPMG stated in an introduction to its series of publications under the title COVID-19: A Business Impact Series.
The words out there now is that The Future is Digital. Embracing digital processes is what has aided the survival of a many organizations in the tumultuous 2020 year of the COVID-19.
In just three months from May to July, Zoom reportedly recorded higher sales and profit than it did in all of 2019, as more people work and learn remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.
Getting onboard digital cannot be overemphasized as those who fail to do so will suffer the consequences. The world will apparently not remain the same, digital is its future. Whether for strategic meetings, corporate sector elections, verification processes and or any other identification needs, the solutions are available.
For some organizations, digital transformation may appear costly and unnecessary investment. Although, the process takes time, investment and patience, ultimately, it’s the businesses that adapt and adopt that are reaping the rewards. In other words, going digital isn’t really an option. It’s a necessity.
Here is what organizations and businesses that won’t digitalize are likely to suffer.
1) Competitive disadvantage
It is not easy keeping up when new companies come in with innovation that disrupt the industry. You should know that keeping up is pertinent, and digital capabilities are the best ways to stay sprightly. A popular reference is the Blockbuster and Netflix story.
In the predigital era, you’d have to walk into a Blockbuster to rent a film or video game. Blockbuster is one of the most glaring examples of a business unwilling to adapt to digital. The mistake cost them an entire empire.
You must have learned about the story. Netflix’s Reed Hastings approached former Blockbuster CEO John Antioco in 2000 and asked him to pay $50 million for the company he founded. Today Reed Hastings is worth $5 billion.
Apparently, Antioco didn’t take the offer to buy Netflix as he couldn’t imagine a film business without customers walking into a rental store just like many Nigerians would not foresee that elections at all levels, especially private sector elections, can be conducted without voters walking into a polling venue and get the process done fast and with less cost.
Netflix, an online DVD ordering and mailing service at the time saw a world of digital transactions and convenience.
Take a big turn from that box of traditional methods and think outside it innovatively. Failure to think outside the box and innovate can keep companies moored to traditional tried and tested methods. In today’s digital landscape, experimentation is required to find new paths to a customer and new ways to make revenue.
2) Inability to collect key analytics
In today’s world, consumers are far less brand loyal than they were 3 decades ago. This is a wakeup call to businesses and organizations on the need to understand their stakeholders and consumers to promote loyalty.
In the case of an election, unlike the paper-based polling process with all the attendant manual input of data, an electronic voting solution simplifies the rigorous processes and draw data in the simplest form.
Data allows companies to tailor content, engage on the platforms that matter, and continuously learn what does and doesn’t work. Without this type of insight, companies and organizations can make detrimental strategy errors.
Data provided by digital platforms is invaluable in shaping the knowledge a process or brand has of a stakeholders and customers respectively. By missing the opportunity to capitalize on data and take a digital approach, companies can struggle to thrive and even survive.
3) Lose relevance
It is so easy to be lost in an ocean of high speed-moving digital era when an organization is not digitally positioned. The speed at which digital move is as much as 5 times faster than traditional business methods.
When the iPhone 6 launched consumers realized the new model of phones were prone to bending. Seeing an opportunity, Kit Kat’s marketing department took to Twitter to play off the news cycle.
Kit Kat leveraged hashtags that were trending and news that was hyped across hundreds of news outlets to gain visibility.
Their quick wit and digital effort made the brand relevant at the right moment, and the company achieved over 25,000 retweets bringing them timely exposure.
Wise digital strategists look for these types of opportunities every day, and those who are successful continue to steal the spotlight. Without a digital presence, it is impossible to compete with the pace of modern marketers. https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/blog/what-is-the-cost-of-not-going-digital-for-a-business
4) Stifle company and revenue growth
A lack of digital activity will make growth a challenge. Take Kodak as an example. The decades-long decline of film-based business ended in bankruptcy due to the resistance of change. For the company, digital change was realized as early as 1975.
And, in 1981 researchers at Kodak suggested the company still had the chance to stay relevant if they embraced a digital transformation. Researchers anticipated, that for a full business revamp, the change would take approximately 10 years— but it was still possible.
The problem is that, during the 10-year window, Kodak did little to change. Even as late as 2007, a Kodak marketing video continued to emphasize “Kodak is back” disregarding the new digital landscape.
These strategic errors stifled the company’s ability to grow and in January 2012, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Acknowledging change is not enough, a company needs to embed that change into its practices, culture and processes in order to realize its full potential. The change apparent and it will sweep away resistance.
In June, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu demonstrated an understanding of the changing times from traditional tom digital process when he approved the conduct of year 2020 biometric verification of pensioners tagged “I am Alive” virtually (online) in line with government’s efforts to reduce the effect of COVlD-19 pandemic in the state and ensure physical distancing.
When it comes to digital transformation, brands and indeed organizations need to engage in the process and look at how it can be integrated to drive digital maturity.
5) Struggle to retain (and hire) valuable talent
The largest demographic in the current workforce is millennials, and soon Gen Z will infiltrate.
Both of these generations grew up in a digital world, where technological innovations are an expectation rather than a novel thought. As such, when given the choice, it’s likely that these cohorts will opt to work for companies that embrace digital workflows.
This is proving true with the rise of the gig economy, which now accounts for 34% of the US workforce.
More specifically, we can point to Uber vs taxi services, and the growth of each industry. As taxis fail to take a digital approach, they continue to lose staff numbers.
Currently, there are 13,587 yellow cabs on New York City streets. The total number of black cars associated with ride-hailing apps total 60,000, with more than 46,000 specifically connected with Uber.
The imbalance between drivers for Uber and taxi are accounting for a large productivity difference. As of December 2017, ride-hail apps performed 65% more rides per month than taxi drivers did in New York City.
Though yellow cabs are still in business, as more drivers shift to jobs at Uber, Lyft, and other app-driven taxi services, the fate of old-school taxi and cab services looks uncertain.
As more digital disrupters enter the marketplace across industries, it’s key to have an agile workforce that can adapt to change and rise to challenges. Cultivate a culture of collaboration and learning that prepares employees for the pace of the digital world.
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