Is COVID-19 Forcing Your Digital Transformation? 12 Steps To Move Faster

4.12.20 (1)

There’s an image floating around LinkedIn and Twitter asking people what inspired their digital transformation. Was it 1. CEO 2. CTO or 3. COVID-19?


Digital Transformation Quiz.  SUSANNE WOLK (TWITTER)


Already, 70% of companies had a digital transformation in place or were working on one, but it seems most companies were not far enough along to make COVID-19 a non-issue. There a few reasons why the Coronavirus or COVID-19 have forced companies to visit a digital transformation faster. One Forbes contributor Andrew Filev in his column “COVID-19 Is A Before and After Moment In The Digital Transformation” sees the most drastic change in four areas 1. telecommuting 2. on-demand food and services 3. virtual events 4. the cloud.


Many people in industries - that formerly prohibited it - are now working from home. From bankers, aerospace engineers, to almost every teacher in America - work-life has changed for most of us. Additionally, we are telecommuting to our friends, spending time with friends and family on video calls as well, in order to not completely isolate.

On-Demand Food and Services

Grocery delivery is now the norm for many people who wouldn’t bother in the past. My own brother who lives in NYC ordered groceries from Amazon/Whole Foods and told me he could only get a delivery from 5 am to 7 am, but was frustrated when the delivery arrived at 4:50 am. At my own Amazon/Whole Foods Market in Oakland, California on a recent Friday said they were “sold out” of delivery. Insurance companies who made it difficult for patients to be reimbursed for telehealth or remote services will now need to change their tune and reimburse for things like remote therapy. Today most of America and the world are under strict shelter-in-place orders. If you can’t alter the way your products and services are delivered, you are dead in the water.

Virtual Events

With no one flying and gatherings prohibited, the events industry took a big hit this spring. But many companies have simply shifted their budgets to digital events or digital content. Only time will tell if the fall will be a very busy events season, or companies will decide they prefer online events over in-person events. From an internal corporate perspective, every day I see people posting photos of their large online meetings with their coworkers, and fun stories from teams that are learning to enjoy this new way of working.

The Cloud

Without the cloud during the Coronavirus pandemic, companies would struggle to share and co-edit documents securely, access analytics and much more. Even short physical distances would present a challenge for collaboration between coworkers without the cloud. Real-time wouldn’t be as easy, streaming would be a problem, smartphones wouldn’t be smart, and rapid data a challenge - to name a few.

For many of you that are not used to a digital way of work, COVID-19 might have expedited your timeline for a digital transformation - and that’s not a bad thing. Digital transformation seems to be the current business buzzword. But not all digital transformations are created equally.

According to research in Harvard Business Review, of the $1.3 trillion spent on digital transformation in 2018, an estimated $900 billion was wasted when initiatives didn’t meet their goals. You don’t want this to be your company.

Although most companies understand the importance of digital transformation, many are overwhelmed by the idea of having to revamp their entire digital approach and flounder without knowing how to implement a transformation. But they also realize that if they don’t do anything, they run the risk of being disrupted and replaced.

The goal of a digital transformation is to use technology to solve traditional problems, which means integrating technology into every area of the business. When done right, digital transformation allows companies to provide unprecedented value to customers.

Companies start a digital transformation, but it’s never truly over. A true digital transformation is a state of mind for a company to continually evolve and adopt new digital solutions internally and externally. One of the first goals of digital transformation is to break down internal silos to create a seamless internal experience. When a company works well internally, it greatly affects the external customer experience. Every area of the company has a role to play in digital transformation, and they each impact the customer in unique ways. Lasting digital transformations are customer-focused with an eye towards the future.

Digital transformation doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It’s not something to check off a list, but instead a mindset that becomes part of the organization’s culture and experience. When a company approaches a transformation with that in mind, it creates a much more manageable transformation. Many of you are now working against the clock, and my 12 steps might get you there faster.