Del Aden’s thoughts ….Innovate or Die: How COVID-19 makes your digital transformation strategy more critical than ever before!

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The origin of the phrase ‘innovate or die’ is a matter of some dispute. Peter Drucker famously declared it, though others may have shared in its coinage. But whatever its genesis, the sentiment is now widespread: stay ahead of the pace of change, or you’re toast!

Organisations in African that fail to innovate risk extinction. That’s the stark truth in the era of ‘digital disruption’.  This applies more so during COVID-19 and beyond

COVID-19 continues to disrupt our world and force companies to press ‘pause’ on digital transformation programmes in order to adjust their business and operating models to deal with the crisis.

Recalibrating investment priorities to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19 should continue to be the first priority of any organisation; however,  pushing forward with your digital transformation programme should still be a priority for the organisation. Now, more than ever, transformation can provide organisations with the necessary business and operating model capabilities it needs – not only to handle this crisis, but also to position itself for success post-crisis recovery.

What happens if you don’t innovate?

If you do not innovate, you will lose your market and existing customers very quickly.  Companies realise that if they don’t digitally transform their organisations (and their product and service innovation processes in particular) they will not survive. The majority of respondents to one recent survey said they feel that a lack of digital transformation will result in business loss in the short-term – most expect to be disrupted in the next 12-18 months.

These risks begin with the ability to expand into new markets, and include security concerns due to increased connectivity of products, supply chain disruptions, and lack of innovation. In response, companies need to have a flexible platform for efficient operations as well as innovation that sparks growth.

Some of the challenges businesses face during COVID-19 and beyond

  • All customer engagement models need to shift to online mode – This is the new Normal…. To protect revenue lines and retain customers, the digital customer experience needs to be first-class.
  • Traditional customer service models cannot cope with the new volume of customer support required, making enhanced digital capabilities within sales and service functions more critical than ever before.
  • Employers have to move to a new talent model, whereby employees are required to work remotely. This has created the need to have new or enhanced employee experience, all with a digital employee interface.
  • Many organisations need to shift their talent capacity to crisis management activities, which in turn creates a major gap in capacity to perform business-as-usual activities. The ability for organisations to leverage robotic process automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities to free-up talent capacity has become imperative.
  • Companies across the globe are more vulnerable than ever to cyberattacks arising from the pandemic. With attackers trying to take advantage of the situation, the ability of all organisations to defend against this risk has become critical.

Winners and Losers?

Organisations that either are or can become digitally-powered and connected during this crisis will be the winners coming out of it.

However, the biggest winner in this new, emerging world will, of course be, the customer – as demand will be met more quickly, needs addressed precisely, and product and service innovation will be perpetually evolving without any interruption in the customer’s experience.

Organisations need to Adopt and Adapt

But how can your organisation adapt culturally and technologically to prepare for the new normal and take advantage of the new world? To make that transition smooth, I believe organisations in Africa need to focus on powering the following five key digital dimensions:

  1. Customer interactions:Designing and enabling seamless digital interactions, digital sales and digital channel distribution capabilities.
  2. Enterprise and employees:Digitally enabling operating models and business processes, decision-making capabilities, and digital employee experiences to enhance productivity and optimise the cost structure.
  3. Digital supply chain:Implement digital and automated supply chains paired with strong manufacturing excellence, by leveraging automation and IoT solutions for smart manufacturing operations to mitigate reliance on labour-intensive processes.
  4. Innovation and new business models:Curating innovation capabilities, products and services, ecosystem partnering while balancing the business’s agility and stability.
  5. Employees Training & Education: According to Training and Development experts, this is the best time to train your employees. Consequently, organisations that Innovate to train their employees will come out stronger after the pandemic and recover/prosper quicker.

In this regard, Experts recommend Innovation to your Training Strategies by embracing ONLINE Training.  This is why Delta3 International has launched a series of Online Training Courses with you.  We can provide Instructor-Led online training or self-paced online training.

But what can government do?

How about transforming the wider skills base to be ready for our digital future, thereby helping to develop skills we will need to fit into this Brave New World?

But with COVID-19 dominating the horizon and the 2020 Ghanaian general election looming, who’s going to think about the long-term? Who is going to reshape the education system for a world where children can learn the key skills to take us into our digital future; skills such as software development, Data science, Cybersecurity, Artificial intelligence etc.?

Who is going to find the next generation of digitally-literate teachers to prepare these kids for a rapidly changing world? Is it time for government to appoint a Digital & Innovation Minister, dedicated to leading us into our digital future?

In Conclusion

Whereas innovation programms may not come to mind as the top priority for businesses struggling to manage the impact of COVID-19, the reality is that it’s an ideal time to drive enterprise-wide innovation programmes to create meaningful solutions to manage the crisis, as well as develop innovations which will enable organisations to position themselves successfully over the long-term.

You cannot afford to stay still – business is a moving escalator. The world is moving around you – customer expectations are changing; competitors are always catching up and threatening to take away your business.  Consequently, you must do something, and do something Now!

For organisations looking to start or move forward with their digital transformation programmes while battling the current COVID-19 pandemic, you can access more insight and advice by visiting us at www.delta3.co

>>>The author is the Managing Partner, Delta3 International. As an Enterprise Architect and Information Security Consultant, Del Aden is an industry-recognised security expert with over 20 years of hands-on experience in consulting, training, public speaking, and expert witness testimony. As the Managing Partner for Delta3 International, Del now focuses on helping customers prevent security breaches, detect network intrusions, and respond to advanced threats. An astute speaker and trainer, Del is on the cutting-edge of cybersecurity research and development. For comments, contact author: [email protected]  Mobile: +233 202621350 (GH) or +44 7973 623 624 (UK). Website: www.delta3.co    Contact us: [email protected]

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