Let’s be honest, as 2019 drew to a close, who could have imagined that we were at the brink of a digital revolution? We won’t argue – 2020 will go down in books as one of the most notorious years in recent history. However, the past year has taught us some indispensable lessons we should keep in mind when moving forward.
Until recently, the notion of the digital revolution was pushed forward by businesses and individuals that are tech-savvy early adopters. And while the tech-savvy disruptors in the last two decades created new industries such as fintech, nothing significantly changed for our local grocer or doctor practice. The past year made a notable change there, inciting digital transformation that required everyone’s attendance. People and businesses around the world from all walks of life took part in creating a new digital landscape.
While the keyword of 2020 is digital transformation, here are the lessons the world has learned.
Lesson #1: Digital Revolution: Adapt or Be Left Behind
Five years ago, John Chambers, former executive chairman and CEO of Cisco, predicted that in the next 10 years, at least 40% of the businesses would die, unless they adapt to the emerging technologies and change their companies’ structure.
The unprecedented impact of the global pandemic cut short this grace period. Instead, the Darwinian survival of the most adaptable to the (digital) change scenario took place. Looking back, it is impressive how fast people adopted new modes of working, producing, and collaborating.
However, merely applying new technologies is not sufficient for the survival of an organization. Rather, we need to adapt to the new digital market. For those coming from an industry that previously wasn’t digital-first, it is crucial to be aware of the quite different rules for the digital business-consumer relationship.
Bottom line: With nearly everything being available online, the user experience bar has been raised. Website visitors won’t compare their experience on your website only with your competition’s website. Instead, the new digital client will compare your website with platforms like Netflix and Amazon, and look for a similarly smooth and easy experience. In other words, ensure that your website is user friendly and adjusted to your target audience.
How to Adapt to the Digital Revolution: Transformation of Customer Experience
Giving customers a personalized experience is one of the key things you should work on in 2021. If you are still indecisive if customization should be on your list of priorities, maybe the fact that customers spend 48% more when their shopping experience is personalized will convince you. Additionally, 74% of customers were frustrated when they felt that the content had nothing to do with them.
Only, how to know what your customers want? Investing in a Customer Relationship Manager can help you analyze customer data based on their previous interactions with your company. Using customers’ data analysis will allow you to improve business relationships and improve customer retention. This way, CRM helps you turn leads into paying customers, paying customers to become your brand advocates, and customers will have a better experience overall.
CRM software compiles data from all of your communication channels – website, phone, email, chat, and social media since your customer is expecting a holistic multi-channel experience. Developing unified UX grants a consistent experience across different applications, services or devices. Even though different teams might work on social media community management, call centre or web-shop development, your customer expects the same brand voice and seamless service.
Lesson #2: The Rise of E-commerce
Last year when people and their wallets stayed home, online sales in the US surged by a whopping 44,4% compared to the same period in 2019. In Britain, the rise in demand was so high that the servers of online grocer Ocado’s were so overloaded they thought it was a hacker attack.
For the first time, older generations joined the digital revolution of shopping. A survey from China showed that 60% of people aged 55 years or older purchased more goods online last year, and only 1% said they never shopped online. Are you prepared for this shift in market demographics?
So what does this initially mean? As the seniors join in on the e-commerce trend, it is time to consider revising digital marketing strategy. Analyze your website’s traffic and see if there were changes in your customer profiling. If you haven’t seen the rise in visits from older customers, consider revisiting your marketing strategy. Perhaps, previously you disregarded boomers as your target audience. Don’t overlook this market share in the future since research suggests older generations are likely to sustain their online spend in the following years.
Lesson #3: Remote Work Is Here To Stay
We didn’t just shop from our homes, that’s where we made money as well. Almost 70% of full-time workers in the U.S were working remotely during COVID-19. Corporations such as Pinterest canceled leases for their offices and allowed their employees to continue working from home.
According to Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom, mass working from home is here to stay.
One of the main reasons is the end of stigma and numerous misconceptions associated with remote work. The newfound situation has shown managers that people can be productive even from the comfort of their own homes. A survey conducted by Gartner’s found that 82% of companies plan to allow employees to work remotely at least some of the time.
The digital revolution brought us amazing tools that make remote work possible. However, to make the best out of the new working style, reevaluate your current working style. Take a step back and think about your company’s core values and goals. It is crucial not to bring outdated and useless offline habits into a new online work environment. One of the worst examples of bad remote work is converting redundant office meetings into even more useless Zoom meetings. After all, last year proved that some meetings could have indeed been an email.
Lesson #4: New Job Market, New Rules
Unfortunately, not everybody could bring their job home when remote work became a necessity. While some businesses are on the rise in the new digital economy, those coming from close-contact industries are struggling to keep up.
A lot of professionals lost their job or realized they need to change their career path in light of the digital revolution and newfound circumstances. If you are one of them, check out the sectors that will give you the warmest embrace.
Digitalising our workplaces meant the imminent change in the job market. As most of us continue to work remotely, businesses can hire globally without having relocation expenses.
Therefore, you face the fiercest competition and need to be smart about distinguishing yourself from the crowd. When applying to a new job, you will probably have similar skills and academic background as your “rivals”. What makes you stand out is your unique experience and personal attributes.
Having a personal brand helps you stand out among the competition. If you have reservations regarding personal branding, we hear you. However, the concept of personal branding is what’s important, not the term per se. As Mark Schaefer said – a personal brand is simply the idea that somebody has about you from their accumulated experiences. When we interviewed several designers regarding personal branding, the most common regret they had is – not starting sooner.
Afterall, we all crave a personalized approach. So make sure that when someone googles you (and we can assure you that your future clients and/or employers will), what they see is nothing short of unique, nothing short of you. Because we all know that creating a website with your portfolio that showcases your skills and tells your unique story is an investment that quickly pays off in the new economy.
Lesson #5: The Importance of Digital Wellbeing
We can all agree that the amount of time we’ve spent staring at screens has significantly increased in the past year. In fact, a study carried out by Vision Direct claimed that if this trend continues, the average person will spend 34 years of their life looking at screens (computers, TVs, mobile phones, gaming devices, and e-readers). How about that?
Alongside these scary statistics, we’ve adopted some new words into our dictionaries during the course of last year. Doomscrolling and Zoom fatigue sound familiar, anyone? If you’ve caught yourself endlessly scrolling through apocalyptic news, know that you are not alone. And if you wondered where your tiredness comes from, you might be overusing virtual platforms for communication like Zoom.
What to do: It is important to take responsibility for our digital wellbeing. If you haven’t already started, smart management of your time spent in front of screens might be a perfect New Year’s resolution.
Start tracking time spent looking at screens and analyze where your time goes. You can check iOS Screen Time or Android’s Digital Wellbeing. If you realize that you spend way more time than you would like, watching YouTube or scrolling through Instagram, set a daily timer. This will lock the app and you won’t be able to use it after 60 minutes, 2 hours or whatever time you feel is best for you.
Additionally, manage push notifications on your phone and computer. You should get the most out of the benefits technology offers and not just scroll mindlessly. Nevertheless, no matter how smart your usage of gadgets is, it is necessary to unplug from time to time. Taking care of your digital wellbeing can also help you to avoid experiencing burnout.
Before You Go
The digital-first way of business is no longer a competitive edge, but a must. With everyone upping their online game, you need to think about what will make you stand out from the crowd. However, don’t be in a hurry to copy the latest digital trends without thinking things through.
Fast digitalization offers many possibilities, but it needs a smart and strategic implementation. Your focus should be on people (your employees, customers/clients, and partners) and not on technology, however counter-intuitive it may seem.
Key takeaways of all of the most important digital revolution lessons we learned in 2020 regard people and the importance of improving and transforming relationships. We mentioned several ways new technologies can help you improve the satisfaction of your customers and enhance the quality of work for your employees. Finally, while you reap the benefits digital transformation offers, don’t forget that everyone needs some offline time.