If we cast our minds back to just over two years ago, pre-pandemic, the digital image of a lot of companies was very different to today. Some didn’t even have one! Gone are the days of businesses existing completely in an analogue world, relying on repeat custom and word of mouth. Todays ever-changing landscape means that having an online presence is crucial for being a successful business.
Although the transition to digital has been happening for some time, the evidence over the past two years is that it’s been vastly accelerated, with companies having to adapt to difficult circumstances.
How digital transformation has occurred
When we were unable to meet in person due to lockdowns, communication became critical for businesses to maintain the services they offered. It was also essential for friends and family to keep in touch with one another. Conducting meetings or catch-ups via video call became the norm, and this has continued with more people working agilely and the ease to now work across multiple continents.
In the same period, many businesses suddenly came to the realisation that their digital presence was either non-existent or outdated. Websites were created or developed to provide key information and a platform to sell products online. Mobile apps became even more relevant, and social media was used to advertise and keep relevant parties up-to-date in an ever changing scenario.
Even as restrictions eased, the way in which we enjoyed a drink or meal at our favourite restaurant changed, ordering from our phones at the table. Although the queue to the bar has returned, many places still operate or have an option to order from the table, and cashless transactions are increasingly preferred.
Failure to stay relevant
Although many companies have embraced the digital world, there are those who failed to keep up and suffered the consequences. The British high street has been particularly affected over recent years with big brands such as BHS, Topshop and Woolworths all closing their stores having not sold online or kept up with their competitors. According to the Centre for Retail Research, nearly 180,000 retail jobs were lost in the UK in 2020. Changes in people’s lifestyles, shopping habits and the technology they have at their disposal means convenience will almost always come out on top. For example, the thought of waiting on the street for a black cab to drive by now seems a foreign concept with the emergence of Uber. We can now simply use an app to call one to us, and the same goes for going to collect a takeaway.
Technology is forever evolving, so it’s impossible to know exactly what the next big digital transformation will be. However, recent talk surrounding the Metaverse suggests that this is where we’re heading. Again we don’t know exactly what form this will take, but this online community could mean that we see companies offering collectable NFTs or using virtual reality in their advertising on a more regular basis.
What we do know
It’s an exciting time with the emergence of new technology providing renewed opportunities and different ways of working. Those failing to embrace change risk getting left behind.