COVID-19: Digital transformation is no longer an aspiration
By Jan Coetzee
Managing Director of Headway Consulting.
Namibia, like the rest of the world, is in the grips of something that no-one has ever experienced before, an almost global ‘social-isolation’ and lockdown scenario.
COVID-19 has taken over everyone’s life in 2020 and right now there does not seem to be an end in sight. While medical professionals scramble to try and find a vaccine and take care of the sick, the best way to not get infected seems to be to practise; social distancing, quarantining and self-isolation. This has led to some strange, crazy and downright unanticipated repercussions and developments.
Social-distancing, self-isolation and the more extreme quarantining has meant that people not only forego social situations such as theatre, dinner, movies and meeting with friends but also staying away from their office or place of work. Which, of course, severely impacts their ability to work. Or, does it? Digital transformation can and does come into its own in this new ‘uncharted world’ that we find ourselves in.
Our lives are a set of routines and anything that breaks that routine has a major impact. The new normality which we need to get accustomed to hasn’t just broken the old routine it has thrown every routine out the window. Working from home was often talked about, embraced as a concept, but organisations were often not that happy about it happening in real life. How would they be able to keep an eye on the workers?
Wouldn’t the workers just log in and then go and take a nap or watch Netflix, productivity was bound to fall drastically? Not to mention needing a good and secure Internet connection, laptop and access to the organisation’s Cloud storage servers and files. A security hazard of note in management’s eyes.
However, with hands tied and only the most vital employees being asked to come into work to stop the spread of COVID-19, working from home has now become the new normal. Organisations are often already set up for telecommunication, but often don’t utilise the technology options. Whether it is already having all files accessible in the ‘Cloud’ or having your corporate data available via secure networks, or simply through Google Drive. The options are endless. Meetings can become Skype conference calls or FaceTime, enabling work to continue without major upheaval.
What is essential though is to ensure the network, the devices connected and the people using the devices are tech-savvy enough and safety-conscious enough to keep documents, files and data protected.
The current grim reasons for self-isolation and possible quarantine of people and other restrictions which are required to be put in place can and should be implemented in the long term as well. We need to vigorously fight this virus and yet try and make life seem as normal. This is where digital transformation is key and no longer a ‘nice-to-have’. It has become essential to our way of life and keeping the economy going. Organisations might be at different levels of readiness to implement digital transformation into their business.
A sensible strategy would be to consider your readiness from a number of perspectives namely: Organisation and People readiness, Information and Technology readiness, Partners and Supplier readiness and Process readiness. Let us consider these perspectives on how ready we are as organisations to transform our processes from manual to digital.
In future articles, I will be unpacking these perspectives and offer practical suggestions for how we can embrace technology in our response to these extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in. Stay safe Namibia.