The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted large swathes of global society. And nowhere is this more evident than in the corporate sector. Businesses of all sizes, from independent retail stores to multinational software conglomerates (and practically everything in between), have been hit with an unexpected and disruptive mix of government restrictions, shifting consumer habits and employment regulations.
Remote working in particular has acted as a major catalyst for business transformation, especially when it comes to digital infrastructure and practices relating to technology. In this post, we’re going to look at four key trends that have accelerated as a result of COVID-19.
But First, What Is Digital Transformation?
Reports indicate that COVID-19 has accelerated digital trends by several years. In some cases, shifts that were expected to take nearly a decade have occurred in mere months.
Most companies that have responded effectively to the pandemic have built foundations made up of three main factors: up-to-date tech, new employees with specialised skills, and an agile approach to product diversification and team management.
Remote working, particularly the need for companies to adjust to mandatory remote working practices, has been one of the key drivers of this approach. Technology infrastructures have had to be redesigned in significant ways to enable employees to work effectively from home. And this has also had knock-on effects in a range of other areas.
1. Development of Advanced Tech Infrastructure
One of the notable features of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it relates to the corporate world, is the way in which it has removed much of the friction traditionally associated with change. Because of the urgent need to adapt, obstacles like management misalignment, fears around reduced efficiency, lack of prioritisation and so on, have disappeared almost overnight. Business leaders knew that if they did not adapt, there was a strong chance their company wouldn’t survive.
This need has prompted organizations of all shapes and sizes to create and implement new remote working processes – internal best practices aimed at fostering effective communication, tracking performance and promoting wellbeing for remote teams.
Crucially, software solutions have formed the basis for this approach. Companies have had to act quickly to build integrated, automated and cost-effective “tech stacks” to manage everything from document management to expense tracking, dramatically accelerating a shift that was already occurring.
Digital staff training and mentorship with the specific goal of streamlining the transition to a digital infrastructure, have also played a crucial role in this regard. They have enabled employees to make the transition relatively quickly and without any previous training.
Finally, digital wellbeing programmes and “telehealth” initiatives, which recognize the dangers associated with remote work, have also become much more commonplace. There are many stories, for example, of companies that have launched wellbeing apps and started to offer confidential counselling for employees.
2. Transition to Cloud-Based Tech Computing and Renewed Focus on Cybersecurity
Cloud computing was already a key trend before the pandemic. An ever-growing number of companies were doing away with “paper offices” and legacy IT systems and managing and storing documents on remote servers. Government lockdowns made this transition a necessity rather than a choice.
Employees working remotely are unable to rely on on-site computer networks. And this has prompted a broad adoption of cloud computing practices among companies. What’s more, because remote employees don’t have many of the protections that would normally be in place, there is now much greater emphasis on cybersecurity.
Another point worth noting is that people have moved online in significant numbers, meaning that businesses are increasingly interacting with their customers through virtual channels. Customer service teams that typically relied on in-house software and infrastructure have had to transition to cloud-based platforms. And these platforms have a range of time-saving and performance-enhancing features, including automation settings, customer satisfaction monitoring, collaboration tools and more.
3. Hosting of Inclusive Digital Events
In-person events are now often hosted online as a result of mandatory remote working restrictions. This applies as much to large-scale conferences as it does to internal meetings. The upshot of this approach is that conferences, seminars and meetings have become more inclusive and open. They are also no longer restricted by geographical barriers.
Many major business conferences, such as Collision, one of the fastest-growing tech conferences in North America, and Google Cloud Next ‘20, which Google describes as “a free, global, digital-first, multi-day event”, have also moved online.
We will likely see a general shift towards a hybrid model in the future. Companies will combine traditional event structures with technological innovations that were made necessary by the pandemic, allowing for much greater attendance and cross-cultural collaboration.
4. Increased Demand for Remote Tech Talent
While most job sectors have declined since the pandemic began, others have seen increased demand. Specifically, numerous roles in tech, cybersecurity and programming have opened up.
This area of the job market was already growing. The COVID-19 pandemic has simply highlighted the importance of technical skill-sets for many businesses and prompted a change in hiring practices. Workers with dedicated training are able to leverage digital infrastructure to drive greater efficiency and enable organizations to adapt more flexibly to uncertain market conditions.
Notably, a growing number of business leaders are becoming open to the idea of remote teams that are based across the world. It is probable that we will see a more diverse workforce in the future, an outcome made possible by the tech infrastructure that has been built over the last several months.
Prepare for Your Future Career With EU Business School
If you’re fascinated by digital transformation and the trends shaping the corporate space, then you might be destined for a career in business. Now more than at any other time in recent history, the world needs innovative leaders that can guide organizations through the tumultuous post-COVID-19 changes, as well as the upheavals expected in the years and decades ahead.
At EU Business School, we offer a selection of undergraduate and postgraduate programs, including our highly respected Bachelor’s and MBA courses, along with opportunities to study in some of Europe’s most exciting business cities.