3 sectors where changing customer demands are accelerating digital transformation

Digital transformation projects are speeding to keep pace with changing customer needs, a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are three areas to expect transformation to grow.

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Companies are accelerating digital transformation projects to handle customer and supply-chain interactions and internal operations by three years in the United States as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to recent research. Although digitization impacts virtually all areas of operations, three areas are likely to experience an increase in digital transformation projects; e-commerce, supply-chain interactions and customer support.

SEE:  AI on the high seas: Digital transformation is revolutionizing global shipping (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The pandemic has shattered traditional business models and customer expectations. Often driven by changing customer expectations, digital transformation requires rethinking how companies use technology, people and processes to achieve business goals and maintain or improve customer satisfaction.

While most businesses have historically chosen their own timeline for digital transformation projects, the pandemic has become a catalyst, forcing most companies worldwide to expedite these plans. Significant anticipated increases in customer-facing sectors such as healthcare and pharma, financial services and professional services are noteworthy.

For successful digital transformation to happen, it relies on:

  • Leadership support for change
  • Speed of adoption
  • Diversity and inclusion policies and practices
  • Employee mindsets
  • Remote technology adoption

Handling the expected demand in these sectors means digital transformation projects will need to address e-commerce, supply-chain interactions and customer support.

1. E-commerce

Since the start of the pandemic, brick-and-mortar stores went digital; kitchen tables became meeting rooms and how consumers shop changed entirely. It’s estimated that 33% of millennial and Gen Z online spending has increased, and 23% of consumers of other generations. The 2021 Q1 Salesforce Shopping Index report indicated that e-commerce adoption and growth continue at staggering levels, with global digital traffic year-over-year growing by 27%, and global shopper spending increasing year-over-year by 31%. This can also be estimated to exist in online retail and professional services. With more millennials entering the workforce and driving e-commerce, traditionally on-premise businesses need to rapidly scale up digital transformation projects.

SEE: Forrester projects strong growth for US tech budgets (TechRepublic) 

Keeping up with the increase in e-commerce traffic and spending means companies will need to kick their digital transformation efforts into high gear to reach e-commerce demand and to reach their target customers in the places where they spend time.

2. Supply-chain interactions

It’s not enough to plan and execute e-commerce business transformation projects. How physical and digital products get to the customer is also an essential element of success. Throughout the pandemic, supply-chain became a hot topic as businesses struggled to keep up with demand. It’s all about innovation to deal with logistics, not just for e-commerce but also in traditional manufacturing and other companies.

SEE: Are you ready to re-engineer your supply chain? Now might be a good time (TechRepublic) 

Supply-chain interactions and logistics innovations, in enabling a stable and timely delivery of products to customers, have to integrate various advanced technologies. Innovation in logistics projects may include artificial intelligence, quick response logging, more flexible warehousing, new fulfillment tools or other digital technologies. Multi-carrier or multi-supplier and just-in-time delivery will also need to factor into projects, especially as supply shortages and consumer expectations demand more rapid delivery and response times.

3. Patient and customer support

Customer support excellence has always been the holy grail that customers and patients desire and businesses and institutions aim to master. With the pandemic driving digital transformation, this is within reach more than ever before, especially with such a large percentage of the world’s workforce now being either remote or hybrid. Customers can be patients, workers, individual consumers or other businesses, but some nuances can impact digital transformation project goals.

SEE: 5 logistics innovations supporting e-commerce in 2021 (TechRepublic) 

Transformation projects such as telehealth implementations and electronic records are paving the way for patients and medical professionals to connect remotely and securely share vital information. When it comes to customer support, digital transformation projects are vital, especially as customer demands are abundant. Customers expect the humanization of digital relationships, which means more AI projects and omnichannel approaches to meeting customer needs.

In the future, companies can expect continually changing and increasing customer demands. This will drive more pressure for digital transformation projects in all areas, especially in e-commerce, supply-chain interactions and customer support.

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