Category Strategy
Publication date
01 September 2020

Digital-First Strategy: How the pandemic has accelerated its necessity

Time to read 5 minutes read

COVID-19 has not only necessitated social distancing, it has intensified digital immediacy.

The physical world and its interactions have changed. Businesses now have to quickly pivot to online as their traditional modus operandi is increasingly obsolescent. 

The New Behavioural Paradigm 

As I highlighted in a previous blog post: “not only do consumers expect ubiquitous digital interactions but they now want to transact with organisations on their own terms, expecting convenience and a seamless customer experience across all touch points.”

Though COVID-19 has meant that consumers have increasingly moved to online, the younger, digital native demographic already almost exclusively use digital channels to gain information and transact with brands and organisations. Nonetheless, the recent pandemic has accelerated the near wholesale jump, and reliance upon, digital channels for most of society - irrespective of age.

The reality is that people now use digital channels as their first port of call. As our physical life has altered, digital is perceived as a safe, reliable and necessary means to interact with companies and indeed each other.

“The Digital trends that had already been transforming consumer behaviour a few short months ago have accelerated. Businesses need to understand how the new normal affects all their customer touch points if they are to reinvent their own future, and not be at the mercy of external events."

John Dillon, Leader, PwC Ireland Retail and Consumer Practice

What does this new challenge look like?

Business owners are scrambling for ways to keep customers happy, employees working, and their business viable in these unprecedented times. The luxury of time now seems to have disappeared completely. Businesses that once mapped out their digital strategy over a number of years must now expedite their digital transformation planning to keep abreast of societal change. 

We have seen in recent months how the Higher Education Sector has begun to realign processes and operational models to attract new students and deliver online courses. The trends in this sector show that the leadership in universities are hastening their digital transformation efforts to meet the needs – and expectations – of their students and staff.

So, agile and new ways of working are now prerequisites to how you conduct business and satisfy the needs of the new digital-first consumer. 

However, what can your company do to make sure that you do not fall behind the competition? Let's have a look at some things that you should consider as a starting point.

    Accelerating Your Digital Transformation 

    Of course, those that have already started moving towards a Digital-First Strategy, or indeed already have one, are at a distinct advantage, but it is not too late to make digital the fulcrum of how you do business.

    Now is the time to make quick, yet thoughtful, decisions with regard to how you are going to shift to virtual operations and interactions. It goes without saying that your leadership team needs to fully understand that a change in cadence is required and that digital strategy is now at the forefront of what you’ll be doing from here on in.

    Here are some things that you should consider today:

    1. What is working and what is not?
      Take an end-to-end view of your business and operating models and augment them
    2. What is your data telling you?
      Look at recent trends in your systems’ analytics to make improvements or create new offerings
    3. How can you eliminate information silos?
      Look at what logjams are hindering better customer experience
    4. How can you quickly leverage existing and new technology?
      Look at what products and services can be brought online 
    5. How can you enhance your digital usability?
      Experiment with how to engage with your growing digital audience

    In conclusion

    A world in which digital channels become the primary and, in some cases, only customer-engagement model is upon us. The ways in which we learn from and adjust to today’s crisis will not only deeply influence companies’ performance into the future, but it will shape how they gain and retain customers.

    A Digital-First strategy is now the de facto means to ensure that your company can compete (and survive) in a post-pandemic market – whenever that might be.

    Get on and do it!

    Need help with accelerating your Digital Strategy?

    In light of COVID-19, Annertech has recently re-engineered our digital strategy offering to expedite this step change to a Digital-First world. Contact us now to see how we can help you meet the challenge head on.

    Profile picture for user Gary Cosgrave

    Gary Cosgrave Commercial Director

    Gary is Annertech's Commercial Director and over the last 20 years has advised clients in both the public and private sector in digital adoption and achieving meaningful ROI.