Accelerate the Digital Agenda for restart post COVID-19

COVID-19 has significantly disrupted working practices, making it imperative for businesses to adapt and act fast - pivoting operations and processes, in order to manage through the pandemic and build resilience for the years ahead. The erstwhile ‘good to have’ digital capabilities are now a ‘must have’.

Many industries are being rapidly transformed - some permanently, resulting in unprecedented challenges in adapting to the new business environment. Organisations need to redefine strategies, undertake organisational change and workforce upskilling at scale, and manage  increased digital, data and cybersecurity risks. 

Against this backdrop, businesses may need a new and accelerated digital transformation strategy, with a focus on:

  1. Embracing fast moving technology trends, or risk losing out to competitors
  2. Re-assessing the organisation’s digital priorities to support new business models 
  3. Adopting new working practices to boost the new digital transformation strategy

I. Adopt evolving technology trends

The immediate necessity of increased work from home (WFH) arrangements for many employees has meant a significant increase in use of video conferencing platforms and remote collaboration tools as one obvious example. Many organisations are also urgently reassessing their current business models with a general shift towards e-commerce, enhanced supply chains, and new distribution models. Here are some of the more prevalent global trends as the “new normal” takes shape.

Keep society, employees and customers safe

Beyond tracing applications and safe distancing protocols, there is experimentation with new technology to solve real new world problems and to prevent potential disease transmission. This can be leveraged by businesses at scale: IoT based communications, Bluetooth, thermal sensors to detect movement of people, robotics for logistics, deliveries and transportation. Whilst the deployment of these technologies will raise privacy concerns, the greater imperative for safety often prevails.

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Design and create workplace of the future

The Singapore Government recently announced that Work from Home will be by default for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the economy reopening. We already see a more flexible, agile workforce able to operate well from home using virtual environments and collaboration tools. Redesign workplace environments to support this “new normal” of agile working practices as we expect greater use of virtual and augmented reality applications to enhance the experience of events, meetings, conferences and entertainment.

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Invest to enhance productivity

There is also an increased urgency to enhance automation through machine learning and deployment of processing bots. Artificial intelligence (AI) will play a much greater role for organisations in future to enhance productivity and drive new business models. This underpins the importance of developing more comprehensive regulations and standards for safe and ethical use of AI.

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5G network rollouts required to save the day

The proliferation of new technologies and online collaboration is already putting tremendous strain on IT infrastructure and network providers. The timely rollout of 5G networks will provide the much-needed capacity for the rapid expansion of digital adoption.

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II. Reassess digital priorities to embrace the “new normal”

With these emerging digital and technology trends, many organisations are reassessing their priorities. The following are some key considerations for organisations:

Manage increased digital risks

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused an increase in both the likelihood and impact of digital threats - with the nature of the threats ever-changing as cyber attackers exploit uncertainty and unprecedented situations. There is now a larger focus on mitigating and addressing these risks than ever before.

Enhance digital and online presence

Many traditional bricks and mortar businesses across industries will no longer be sustainable without adapting their business model and the need to have an effective online and digital presence will be essential.

Embrace supporting technology and infrastructure to enable a remote and agile workforce

As well as the productivity considerations, the ability to work effectively from home will become a “must have” for many prospective recruits in assessing potential job positions on offer. Enhanced use of data and analytics, cloud-based technology and driving greater productivity through automation will be fundamental to be able to compete effectively.

Boost Upskilling at scale

People are resilient - especially when empowered with the right skills to adapt. Companies should be prioritising people and organisational transformation, with focus on rolling out virtual upskilling programmes at scale for the new world.

III. Enable critical success factors to accelerate digital adoption 

What do you need to succeed in developing an effective digital strategy for the ‘new normal’ and accelerate your organisation’s digital journey? Key considerations for organisations:

Ensure Digital Trust

With the acceleration of digital working practices there is an obligation to ensure trust and confidence that the new evolving risks are being well managed – this includes cyber security risks, data protection and compliance with an evolving new regulatory environment. It is by ensuring trust and providing confidence that these new evolving digital risks are well managed that will enable an accelerated adoption path for leading organisations.

Upskill to enable the workforce 

Digital upskilling is an immediate imperative for all organisations from the board level down and throughout the entire workforce. A comprehensive understanding of digital principles around data and analytics, automation, online collaboration, cloud-based technology and cyber security is  required to provide their teams with the confidence and skills to optimise the use of technology tools.

Communicating the vision and enhanced practices to all key stakeholders

This includes employees, customers, suppliers and business partners and involves ensuring there is buy-in to both the new ways of working and an understanding of the benefits arising.

Contact us

Greg Unsworth

Greg Unsworth

Digital Business and Risk Assurance Leader, PwC Singapore

Tel: +65 9848 6025

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