Organizations have shown incredible resilience in the face of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses quickly implemented remote working, shifted to contactless customer engagement, and even developed entirely new products and services.
Kids everywhere are doing their schoolwork over Teams and Zoom. Doctors are diagnosing patients remotely over a smartphone. And customers are engaging and interacting with their banks, utility companies, and retailers in different ways.
A McKinsey survey of 800 executives emphasizes this. During the pandemic, 85% of companies accelerated the implementation of technologies that digitally enable employee interaction and collaboration. Around half also increased digitization of customer channels via e-commerce, mobile apps, and chatbots, while 35% further digitized their supply chains.
Old world solutions to new world problems
Until now, however, many of these changes have been seen as short-term, a temporary fix, or a workaround. Organizations had the mindset of simply adapting their existing technologies and tools to the problems created by the pandemic.
But we can’t just continue to adapt these old world solutions for our new world problems. You can’t just transplant the same office-based tools to a remote and hybrid workforce. There will be a more deep-rooted long-term change in the ways we work and do business.
That’s why now is the time to step back and think about how we develop solutions that help us cater to the way the world has changed. It’s time for a complete rethink. And, as I highlighted in my previous blog, the emerging markets of the world are once again a shining example of how some organizations are taking the opportunity of this disruption to tear up the old playbook and drive innovation.
A catalyst for digital transformation
One example is an oil and gas company in the Middle East. Before the pandemic, when oil workers ran into a problem they couldn’t fix themselves, they had to stop work and wait for the appropriate expert to arrive on site to diagnose and fix it. And in the oil industry, that kind of downtime is measured in the millions of dollars per hour.
The pandemic forced the company to completely rethink this process due to people not being able to physically visit sites. It now uses video and voice technology that allows remote teams to see and hear the problem that the onsite teams are experiencing, actually making it faster to diagnose and fix. This has been done using helmet-mounted cameras, where all the footage can also be recorded for replay later to help avoid similar problems reoccurring in the future. And these changes aren’t a short-term fix. They will continue beyond this crisis.
Driving innovation with APIs
Another way organizations are innovating and rethinking the way they engage with customers is through greater use of APIs. For example, Bank BRI in Indonesia has made its credit-scoring capabilities available via an API as a paid service. This has led to the creation of a digital network of agents across the country, which has opened up banking services to citizens in Indonesia’s most remote regions. Crucially, this initiative has added $50 million in revenue.
In South Africa, the Department of Social Development is responsible for developing and monitoring social policy to reduce poverty. But inefficient, paper-based processes meant it was taking more than 90 days for it to complete half of its appeals cases, causing its reputation and citizens to suffer.
By implementing a comprehensive OpenText case management solution it has eliminated these delays – 98% of cases are now resolved on time within 90 days, despite a 50% increase in workload. And this has saved the organization $3 million in litigation fees alone, which has been reinvested to further improve services.
All this reaffirms how organizations must change their mindset. You can’t simply try and solve problems by looking at how you fixed them a year ago. A cautious wait and see approach isn’t an option either. Change is no longer something that takes three or four years. It’s now a timeframe of months or even weeks. Make a decision and act quickly, or risk finding yourself pushed out of your market completely.