The number of patients leveraging online healthcare and telemedicine platforms have risen manifold in the past few months. The share of online and digital banking transactions has also surged in recent times and is expected to continue to be the preferred payment channel going forward. These are just a few examples of how the emerging new normal has forced organisations to rethink their operating models and priorities. Inclusion of more remote/virtual work, holistic business continuity/disaster recovery planning and technology infrastructure overhaul are some of the ways organisations are reacting to the changing business environment.

Some of the key areas that leaders have had to come to terms with are evolving customer preferences and channels of engagement with the organisation. If we take the case of the banking industry, a recent study by the World Economic Forum identified three new trends that are likely to shape the future of banking industry: advent of new technologies, increased usage of automation and AI technologies, and an overhaul of business models to support a digital ecosystem. In our interactions with leaders across banks, almost all believe the future of banking business models would focus on the creation of “Bank in a Box” that would offer advanced services to customers leveraging complete virtual platforms. Additionally, we have also seen a rapid evolution of cloud-based helpdesk platforms and virtual contact centres helping organisations streamline their multi-channel customer support capabilities and enable their teams to provide quicker responses.

The ripples of the global lockdown were also felt when the vulnerabilities of complex global supply chains across industries were exposed. While a few organisations were already on the path of digitising their supply chains leveraging Industry 4.0 principles, the pandemic is seen to have accelerated the transformation of traditional linear supply chains into digital supply networks (DSNs). These now focus on synchronised planning, real-time customer interactions, smart factories, and built-in intelligence capabilities with dynamic fulfilment ability. A global retail giant had recently tried to leverage real-time weather data to help adjust inventory of weather-dependent products and supplier orders in advance on a store-by-store basis to reduce any chance of product stock-outs. We expect to see increasing number of such use-cases as organisations across industries deal with slower recovery cycles, unpredictable demand, and a need to revisit their data models to adapt dynamically while making key operating decisions.

For most organisations, the early days of the pandemic with the sudden unexpected growth of employees working in a virtual environment exposed the fragilities of the available IT infrastructure and lack of necessary technology enablers in order to facilitate this delivery model. According to a recent study we conducted, close to 50% CEOs see technology leaders as their primary strategy partner in the coming three-five years, more than all other C-suite roles combined. Given the changing marketplace landscape and pressure to cut operating costs, the immediate focus for organisations is to upgrade their virtual infrastructure with a higher focus on cloud along with putting in place the right productivity and collaboration tools for their workforce. Combining these with other emerging technologies such as automation and AI, connected devices and big data along with a focus on cybersecurity can help develop an enabling ecosystem to enhance an organisation’s digital readiness.

Given the changing business environment, organisations are also preparing themselves to deal with the changing talent landscape and emergence of a distributed workforce model. This has significantly accelerated the pace of adoption of digital technologies in core people processes. We have seen multiple examples of this acceleration in the last few months from a FMCG major deploying AI and virtualisation technologies to manage their recruitment and on-boarding processes, to a global logistics company leveraging a startup-provided virtual employee engagement platform. Adoption of the right digital and virtualisation technologies to help the workforce transition to the new ways of working is likely to be a key factor that is expected to determine the success of an organisation going forward.

As we have seen, changing customer preferences, disruption to existing operating models and working with a distributed workforce are driving organisations to reimagine their processes, embrace digital and virtualisation technologies and create new value propositions to not only stay relevant but also build a resilient virtual-ready organisation. Moreover, we believe that organisations that are agile and are able to accelerate this transition to revamp their core strategy are likely to be able to thrive in this new emerging world.

Views are personal. The author is partner, Deloitte India. Sabina Bhadrish and Marut Taneja also contributed to this article.

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