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The challenges of digital transformation in the age of Covid-19

The challenges of digital transformation in the age of Covid-19

May 17, 2021

2020 will definitely be remembered as the year of a global health crisis due to Covid-19. If it is certain that the economy in general - and VSEs and SMEs in particular - have largely suffered from this context, a new way of thinking about work has also emerged, which disrupts the traditional model.

Information technologies play an essential role during the lockdown by allowing the continuity of activities. In addition to the human side of things, which is largely affected, technical means had to be found to support these changes. CIOs have understood this; Covid-19 has allowed them to accelerate the digital transformation in companies in order to adapt their processes, for optimal productivity and communication despite the context.

The role of the CIO is becoming more and more central in the company, since digitalization now affects all areas of its activity and the various business lines must increasingly refer to it, including the financial department in a logic of understanding and budget control.

A necessary adaptation of working methods via digital technology

With the Covid 19 pandemy, many employees now work from home, which does not facilitate the creation of links between employees nor the integration of new employees. This is why companies have to set up digitized processes to maintain this link.

For the sake of health security, telecommuting has experienced an unprecedented boom. Not very widespread until then, it has been democratized in order to limit meetings between employees and the concentration of potential contaminated people.

In the aftermath of the crisis, these adaptive measures will not disappear. The main challenge for business leaders will be to find a new model, integrating the adjustments made during the health crisis into the day-to-day functioning of the company.

Thus, in general, the evolutions will be focused on:

  • The improvement of the digital presence, initiated during the crisis and which will have to be consolidated, with a view to facilitating remote collaboration;
  • The possible integration of the company's new recruits as well as the maintenance of the link between the company and all its employees, even in a telecommuting context;
  • The anticipation of a possible future crisis through the development of clear processes.

Digitizing operations

Digital work environments have exploded with the health crisis. In this remote environment, the implementation of SaaS tools that support modern and agile workflows becomes paramount.

Indeed, with the current health crisis, technology managers have been faced with a wide range of multi-dimensional requests such as redirecting customer requests to digital channels or reconfiguring supply chains to fit the new business organization.

Thus the, CIOs had to:

  • improve their digital presence, by promoting the implementation of new SaaS solutions, while controlling them to avoid the shadow IT phenomenon;
  • more generally, modernize the entire enterprise IT ecosystem to gain a competitive advantage.

These changes will continue beyond the health crisis and will likely be the norm in the future. Companies that are able to adapt or even anticipate these changes will have a better chance of thriving.

One of the axes of development may be for the company to focus on the customer experience, by focusing more on the human element and building a relationship of trust. In addition, value creation will be based on the continuity between the physical and digital worlds.

Technical consequences

The digitization of businesses and operations means an explosion of SaaS software used internally. Thus, IT departments must ensure the security of the use of these new tools and make sure that no breach occurs. This means training employees in good IT security practices, but also maintaining applications and clear procedures to verify their security level before they are used.

Tomorrow, the crisis will be over and companies will return to their usual rhythm of activity. The main challenge for technology managers will be to reinforce the solutions put in place in an emergency climate during the pandemic.

This will require the development of infrastructures that support this digital transition, but also the development of a real strategy for their deployment. Beyond creating a resilient and secure IT architecture, IT leaders will need to be vigilant in monitoring their assets, hardware and software. A good IT system can only be efficient if it relies on reliable and efficient technical equipment.

These adaptations, which are destined to become established over time in companies as new forms of work organization, do not come without some expenses.

An exponentially growing IT budget

According to Gartner, enterprise IT spending will increase by 8.4% in 2021 compared to 2.3% in 2019. Given the changes that are currently required, this is not surprising. This spending is mainly on IT equipment and SaaS software. Nevertheless, in a period where a large part of companies have suffered financially with a drop in their turnover but also in their human resources, the costs related to this digital transformation, like the others, are controlled.

To do this, the company must review what exists in its organization, including an inventory of SaaS applications used. Once this inventory is done, the company can move on to a rationalization phase, where solutions that are not useful or used enough, or those that would be redundant in the organization, will be discarded. This makes it possible to limit unnecessary expenses, by eliminating SaaS solutions for which the return on investment is not high enough, for example.

Once this rationalization is complete, the IT and finance departments, in conjunction with the company's various business lines, will be able to select new innovative solutions to promote remote work within the organization while controlling their budgets.

SaaS Management, an ally of digital transformation

In order to keep an eye on the new digital ecosystem set up in the company during this period of pandemic, the IT department must jointly with the finance team set up a SaaS Management solution allowing them to have an overview of what is currently used. This way, they can decide whether to maintain them or replace them with solutions that are more useful or modern. In the long run, this solution will also help in the decision making process, especially in the selection of new tools at scale.

From a budget control point of view, a SaaS Management tool will allow to quickly identify the most expensive solutions as well as the solutions that the company could do without and therefore to better manage the software used by the company, so that it is optimized.

The digital transformation of a company can rhyme with an increase in the risk of security breaches. With the multiplication of the software used, the controls on the security of the latter must also increase. A SaaS management tool is a good way to have a clear and quick view of the security levels of the whole software ecosystem used in the company. It is therefore the perfect ally for CIOs/CFOs to support the company in its digital transformation!

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