Turning A Pandemic Pivot Into A Sustainable Digital Strategy

Post-pandemic, it is vital to reassess digital pivot programmes and convert them into long term strategic plans to remain relevant, competitive, and successful

For most organisations, 2020 was about survival. Forced to pivot, many businesses procured absolutely necessary cloud tools and otherwise relied on makeshift platforms or improvised systems to deal with the limitations of legacy systems and the inability of some tools to scale. This was to be a temporary measure meant to tide them over until things became normal. But now, the 'normal' is changing.

Digital trends spurred by situational necessity are today quickly reshaping fundamental buying behaviour and several other stakeholder preferences. For businesses to remain relevant, competitive, and successful in a post-Covid world, it's vital to reassess what were essentially digital pivot programmes and convert them into long-term strategic plans. Here are a few universal perspectives instrumental to building a sustainable digital-ready culture for your business:

1. Build a digital "experience" platform 

It's not enough just to have an online B2C or B2B storefront anymore because chances are your competitors have them too. Given the greater availability of options, customers now want digital experiences (DX) that are relational and continuous rather than transactional and one-time. Web stores need to transform into powerful, modern-day DX platforms that create more personalised connections for customers in an interactive but non-intrusive way. This can include:

➤ Reinforcing your web store with strong self-service elements such as informative catalogues, detailed FAQ sections, convenient one-click checkouts, and the right selection of payment gateway options.

➤ Simplifying processes for returning customers by remembering preferences and offering quick repeat order options; showing appreciation for your regular patrons with an in-built loyalty programme such as reward points.

➤ Adding community forums and exclusive message boards to enable social discussions about your products/services. Observing how your customers interact with their peers is pivotal to understanding brand perceptions, what a buyer is looking for, and how future market needs will evolve.

➤ Localising your DX platform with linguistic and cultural elements that cater to regional customers. 

2. Digital employee experience (DEX) is just as important

A digital strategy should address every stakeholder involved and not just the customer. The customer might drive change, but employee buy-in will facilitate the ultimate execution. For employees to endorse an organisation-wide digital transition, they should be introduced to a set of functional tools that are simple to work with, have adaptive user interfaces optimised for multiple stakeholders, enable workflow automation (e.g., low-code/no-code development platforms) and offer consistent experiences across departments. 

Besides, the digital work platform for employees should also be a collaboration platform that enables cross-functional process integrations and business communication carry-over across impact areas. This can mean, for instance, a customer support executive being able to conveniently access a client's invoice history and pending product licenses directly from the help desk without having to log into a secondary finance tool; or a contextual messaging portal within a process management function like CRM, that allows executives to create ad-hoc chat threads and schedule meetings to discuss certain accounts for forward-planning — this type of internal communications crossover with business management solutions is particularly crucial for remote and hybrid workforce models.

When the tools tick all of the above, employees are much more likely to embrace the change that comes with digitalisation. 

3. Invest in a digital toolbox that optimises both value and cost

Information silos and escalating costs are common management pitfalls that crop up at various junctures of a digital adoption journey. Investing in a wide array of disparate software applications from multiple vendors that not only differ in form, look, and feel but also struggle to integrate contextually will only introduce more complications in the future than solve problems as the organisation grows. Consolidation for unified operations becomes strenuous, not to mention the staggering licensing costs. 

Moreover, with the pandemic pushing for value-conscious approaches and a general scepticism around reverting to pre-Covid budgets, it is pivotal to choose the right set of tools that will work in harmony towards the same goal and mission as well as provide better value.

4. Digital-first should also be privacy-first

As end-users today understand the deep value and demand for their personal data in the face of modern technologies like AI/ML, they are quickly realising the importance of privacy and the necessity to own and control what they share with businesses over the web. They want explicit assurances that the companies they trust their information with are transparent about their data usage practices, comply with data management regulations like the GDPR and ISO 27701, and will protect them against data breaches and identity misuse. A digital programme should ensure the above to maintain user trust and loyalty in the coming years.

Leave room for innovation

Running a future-ready business also includes being constantly on the lookout for new value avenues that help you evolve through innovation, and ensuring that the business systems and processes are elastic enough to absorb the change. While digital is the definite route to take today, newer avenues will continue to open up and your digital strategy should be flexible to capitalise on emerging opportunities. 

The Author is  Praval Singh, VP - Marketing & Customer Experience, Zoho  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.