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How COVID-19 Is Forcing Digital Transformation within Companies

COVID-19 has challenged companies, forcing them to realize how critical digital transformation is for their survival. Digital transformation is the use of digital technologies to create new–or modify existing–business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business or market requirements.

This includes how information flows throughout a business, getting to the right people at the right time. For example, the Rolodex, a small paper wheel filled with contact information, used to be the best method to manage business contacts. While this very old school tool helped organize information alphabetically for one person’s contacts, it was impossible to share information with others or analyze the data in any way. It was a manual and limited resource. Now, companies use CRM software, such as Salesforce, which is designed to easily share customer information across an organization, create reports, analyze data, and integrate with other enterprise software. This digital tool empowers companies with customer insights, improves customer service, and eases internal communication. This is just one example of how digital transformation helps businesses significantly improve operations and the customer experience.

The importance of digital transformation post-COVID-19

Customers want meaningful relationships with businesses. Digital transformation helps improve customer experience by maximizing responsiveness through information gathering and sharing, product development, and improved communication.

From an operational standpoint, what used to be a nice to have is now a must-have. With many employees working from home and people functioning in physical silos, it’s essential to securely provide staff with remote access to information and documents needed to perform their jobs and continue to seamlessly provide customer support.

Companies should consider the full process in which information is shared across their organization. For example, moving to a paperless solution could help the environment, ease sharing of files, and reduce physical space necessary for document storage. Your company could also use document scanning to digitize files, which could then be shared to your remote employees using cloud software. Workflow automation can also be used to expedite the time it takes to complete manual tasks so employees can focus more of their time on core business functions.

The process of implementing digital transformation

During a recent LinkedIn Live discussion with MetaSource on digital transformation, Zabeen Mirza, Managing Director of Global Markets at the Schranner Negotiation Institute, explained, “People have accomplished huge transformative initiatives in the span of days in response to [COVID-19].” The pandemic has forced companies to digitally transform overnight in order to be able to operate remotely. As explained by Miguel Guerroro who is Head of Client Services at Schranner: “Corona has escalated exponentially what everyone’s doing regarding digital transformation, whether it’s Zoom telemedicine, whether it’s education, and of course, obviously, the corporate landscape.” All sectors are rapidly adopting new technology.

However, digital transformation should be viewed as a journey; it is best accomplished a step at a time, prioritizing low hanging fruit that will provide the largest ROI. Companies should be asking questions that focus on: where is the most pain, where can we improve our business processes to better serve the customer, how can we better support staff, and especially in these economic conditions, how can we reduce costs?

It’s not just about purchasing digital transformation services, but changing company culture and training employees to internally onboard and adopt this new technology. There’s no magical finish line, but instead, the goal should be for continual progress. Think of Netflix: they started by mailing people DVDs. However, they didn’t stop there, they continued onto streaming, which is now the new normal. Companies, like Blockbuster, who refused to transform, were forced out of the market. With the heightened competition brought on by our current recession, it’s more important than ever to embrace digital transformation services that can help your business remain competitive.

Having a digital mailroom is a critical part of the digital transformation journey

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses learned the hard way how an in-house mailroom prevented them from operating when they had to close their offices. Just as a Rolodex didn’t allow information to be easily shared across an organization, having a paper mailroom has similar limitations. With an outsourced digital mailroom, your paper documents are received, scanned, indexed, and electronically distributed to your staff for review and processing no matter where they are working.

During the LinkedIn Live discussion on digital transformation, James Richardson, the VP of Sales at MetaSource, described how a lot of companies at the beginning of the pandemic realized sending mail to a physical location and then trying to move it from office to office and even office to home-office was impossible. Many of these companies were in need of processing accounts payable, insurance claims, sales fulfillment, HR onboarding, and more. A digital mailroom service ensures these and other business critical processes will continue even when your offices are closed.

How to implement digital transformation across your organization

Look for the “Rolodexes” across your business. These include outdated technology that’s slowing down your business operations and hurting your ROI. Remember digital transformation is a journey, so you don’t need to remove them all at once. Instead, prioritize digital transformation services that will have the greatest impact on your business.

Procurement should be involved early on in the decision-making process. Historically procurement’s role has varied by company, with some spearheading an effort to change business practices and find new solutions, and others coming in at the very end to help analyze costs between proposals. It’s best if they’re involved early on in the buying process to help a business unit fully understand the problem and analyze solutions from a holistic approach.

Find a digital transformation partner

When choosing a digital transformation service, keep in mind who will be your long-term partner. Find companies who help you solve problems, partners who can provide solutions to your current and future needs, and providers who offer multiple related services, including digital mailroom, cloud document management, and workflow automation software.

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