As promising news about vaccines continues roll in, there finally seems to be a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. The pandemic may have lingering effects as hotspots re-erupt, but at some point in the next 12 months, it will likely be in our rear-view mirror. We can look forward to the day when it joins the pantheon of other diseases — and other coronaviruses, in particular — that we deal with in an ongoing fashion. But it will cease to be our dominant healthcare challenge.
As life eventually begins to return to a new type of normal, businesses will emerge from the crisis transformed. Many are already well down the digital pathway – and aren’t likely to be in any rush to shed the transformations that are underway or have been completed.
COVID-19 Smashed Every Barrier to Digital Transformation
In 2018, based on conversations we were having with market leaders in a range of industries, we started encouraging organizations — especially labs — to embrace the concept of digital transformation (DT).
DT, for those not yet up to speed, is the process of updating your organization’s business practices, culture, and customer experiences to take full advantage of digital technologies.
It’s not just happening in the healthcare and pharmaceutical space. Digital changes have come fast and furious in industries as diverse as finance, energy, retail sales, education, manufacturing, marketing, restaurant dining, and even (as we’ve recently seen) political campaigning. While it often happens reactively, modifying existing practices in response to changing business or market conditions, DT also creates opportunities to provide new services, streamline processes, and create new customer experiences.
While some digital transformation was already underway at the start of 2020, COVID-19 changed everything. Or rather, it accelerated everything. Companies that were firmly garrisoned in a paper-driven world were forced to confront a new digital reality in which Zoom calls, remote workers and VPN access reigned supreme.
According to a recent report by Twilio, a cloud communications platform, 97% of enterprise decision makers surveyed in the United States, the UK, Germany, Australia, France, Spain, Italy, Japan and Singapore accelerated their company’s DT efforts in response to the pandemic. Digital initiatives that were on track to be introduced in a year…or three years…or maybe five years…suddenly became essential to survival — in some cases literally. According to the same report, DT strategies were brought online an average of 6 years earlier than originally planned.
The reasons were simple.
The global pandemic made nearly every excuse not to implement DT irrelevant. If your organization didn’t have a digital strategy or buy-in from the C-suite, you needed to get it fast if you wanted to stay in business. Companies that were reluctant to get rid of legacy software soon found themselves lagging behind competitors who had already moved on. And in many organizations, “we don’t have time to go digital” became “we don’t have time to do anything but go digital” practically overnight.
Digital Transformation is Here to Stay
While the world may soon return to “normal” — whatever that is — it will never be the same. The digital genie is out of the bottle. Organizations in every industry have made huge investments in DT and will continue using them to the fullest. What’s more, many patients and healthcare workers have enjoyed new benefits from digital technology. For example, both patients and health care providers look forward to continuing virtual visits when possible, even when social distancing is no longer necessary.
New tools and channels adopted out of necessity during the pandemic will become integrated into a more diverse and flexible way of doing business. That’s a trend that your lab — or any other business — can’t afford to ignore.
Here are a few more stats to drive that point home:
- 92% of global businesses surveyed say their organization is likely to expand digital communication channels as the world reopens.
- 60% of companiesthat have undergone a digital transformation have created new business models.
- Executives say the top benefitsof digital transformation are improved operational efficiency (40%), faster time to market (36%) and the ability to meet customer expectations (35%).
- 54% said COVID-19 increased their focus on reaching customers through multiple channels.
- 1 in 3 companies started using live chat and interactive voice response (IVR) technology for the first time as a result of COVID-19.
- Health care companies were among the three industries (along with technology and energy) most likely to accelerate DT.
We’ve advocated DT for a long time. We also firmly believe that the era when it was simply “nice to have” is gone for good. Your company’s digital transformation will be critical to its success long after COVID-19. Embracing the change now will keep you competitive, help you satisfy changing customer expectations, and enable you to stay flexible in an evolving marketplace for years to come.
What’s more, it might even be critical to your survival.
For a closer look at how LabVantage has designed technology to help labs like yours lead successful digital transformation initiatives, visit Navigating the Digital Transformation Journey.