The pandemic has transformed the way we live and do business forever. In response, Middle East organisations have rewritten their strategies and implemented new technology within weeks which previously would have taken years. This shift to digital is not slowing down.
According to our recent survey of business leaders across five European countries, 82% say that they have digitally transformed their business as a result of the pandemic. Nearly 60%, however, also say they believe these innovations are only temporary.
At the same time, their top concerns include ensuring security, serving customers effectively, and engaging their workforce. Each of these areas will only become more complex as the digital economy evolves.
With this is mind, here are three top digital transformation priorities businesses must consider to succeed in the post-COVID 19 economy.
#1 Plan for short-term and long-term
At the onset of the crisis, in addition to taking care of their employees, a key focus for business leaders was to stabilise their operations: to appear online, communicate effectively with customers, and redeploy teams where necessary. As we look beyond the reopen and recovery phase of the crisis, company-wide transformations are required to build resilience and approach the future with confidence.
The vast majority of businesses, 87%, state that they are struggling to plan for both the short-term and long-term. In addition to wanting new business, businesses say they need trusted advice to address challenges around leading teams and managing employee morale. Transforming how businesses appear and operate online is one thing. Conducting business securely, effectively leveraging revenue streams, and investing in resilience is another.
#2 Empower customers with consistent service
The pace at which Middle East customer expectations have transformed during the pandemic will have long-term implications for businesses of all sizes. It is fair to say that many customers have embarked on their own digital transformation journeys in recent months, adopting new technologies to stay connected with loved ones and problems fast.
Although for most businesses improving their online customer experience is a priority, almost half, 47%, of businesses told us they are concerned by overwhelming customers with changing technology processes. The reality is that if companies do not transform digitally, and empower customers to adapt with them, they will be left behind.
#3 Prepare employees for jobs of the future
In contrast to the speed at which customers have adapted to new realities, Middle East companies need to get beyond the coping stage of this crisis. This is particularly true around how they engage and retain employees.
Over one in two businesses agree that remote working will become a permanent fixture. However, 68% experience challenges with leading and managing dispersed teams; 63% with maintaining employee morale. When it comes to skills, 61% of business leaders say they will permanently require new skills of their employees, but less than half, 49%, have identified means to increase investment in digital tools.
Given the pace at which organisations and services must transform, the future of work has arrived. Cultivating a culture of lifelong learning will help companies plug their skills gaps and reinvent entirely how they upskill employees.
- Middle East organisations have rewritten their strategies and implemented new technology within weeks.
- Middle East companies need to get beyond the coping stage of this crisis.
- Business leaders stabilise their operations by communicating effectively with customers and redeploying teams where necessary.
- Cultivating a culture of lifelong learning will help companies plug their skills gaps and reinvent entirely how they upskill employees.
The reality is that if companies do not transform digitally, and empower customers to adapt with them, they will be left behind.