What does the term digital mean to you? Before Covid-19, the term digital felt merely aspirational when it came to business transformation. But then everything changed. There will be no going back to the world we had known before, and now a move to digital is a requirement to keep pace with demands from businesses and consumers alike.

At the same time, Industry 4.0 is steadily underway and encouraging cloud adoption to keep pace with technology’s rapid change. McKinsey estimates AI can deliver global economic activity of around $13 trillion by 2030. In India specifically, Phoenix Research predicts that the AI market will grow significantly through 2025, with increased adoption of cloud-based services and growing demand of intelligent virtual assistants. By 2023, the worldwide number of IoT-connected devices is expected to increase to $43 billion.

As Covid-19 and the fourth Industrial Revolution collide, IT organisations will have to transform their business to compete. But what constitutes digital? I believe there is an 80:20 rule to follow here.

* 80% of customer engagement should be through digital channels, with only 20% through human assisted ones

* Processes and operations should be 80% AI and machine learning-based, with the remaining 20% through human involvement

* 80% of new revenue should come from new digital service and business models, with 20% through traditional channels

With this in mind, we see five critical areas to consider when making this shift.

Transformation begins with employees

Digital adoption requires a greater focus on organisational culture and investing in upskilling employees with a continuous learning mindset. Take note of new methodologies like DevOps, technologies such as microservices, and journeys like cloud migration. These are areas that will ensure business agility, preparing the workforce for the next significant disruption.

Also, consider the “fail fast” and “elevate success” concepts. The ability to experiment rapidly and fail fast to solve business problems is key to innovation.

Consider new ways to engage the digital-first customer

According to Morgan Stanley, Covid-19 is set to accelerate digital adoption in India, including online shopping, digital transactions, grocery services, and the digitalisation of small businesses. Another study from Indeed found that searches for remote work have surged by 377%.

Keeping a close eye on new digital frontiers and creating unique ecosystems of offerings for consumers will be critical moving forward. This also creates new revenue streams and business models that will be at the centre of our digital future. Partnerships will be meaningful here, as well as hyper-personalisation that’s synced across customer-facing channels.

The digitalisation of IT and networks

To support advanced business operations, IT organisations worldwide must embark on transformation journeys centred on the cloud and the dexterity this brings. The move to cloud will also be critical to keep pace, evolve quickly, and rapidly launch new offerings.

As we fast-forward to a digital future, an era of co-existence between traditional and emerging networks will face increasing operational business challenges. Creating a transparent hybrid approach (on-premise, cloud, and multi-cloud), will ensure businesses can tie together current applications with the latest technologies and network updates.

However, as IT organisations embrace public cloud environments, the threat of cyberattacks and malicious hacking attempts becomes a growing phenomenon. As part of a hybrid environment, companies will need to look into security and interoperability as well.

Adopt a data-first mindset

Being able to leverage pools of data to make better business decisions is the backbone of any digitalisation efforts. It’s also a way to figure out what consumers or businesses may need before asking for it. This is why AI will play a critical role in the future.

For example, effectively monitoring network traffic for issues before they occur in high-risk areas like hospitals, or quickly creating a new content offering based on what locked-down consumers are demanding. Injecting artificial intelligence into everything your organisation does will help it make critical business decisions, but also keep pace with an ever-changing, connectivity-first society.

Inject intelligence into operations

You may have heard of the term technological singularity, where technology’s rapid evolution outpaces what humans can comprehend. Operations will also have its own singularity event, due to the increased pace of real-time demands and machine learning’s increasingly vital role. This is when AI will be needed to automate processes with a focus on continuous learning, development, and government across every aspect of the business.

To stay one step ahead, organisations will have no choice but to implement AI-driven operations, focussing on making continuous improvements to IT environments. It’ll be the only way to remain adaptable and respond faster to change.

Any business transformation is a jump into the unknown, but those who continue to think the “old way” will be left behind; especially as Covid-19 accelerates our digital future. Those who take steps to evolve their business can move into the future with agility and adaptability.

Views are personal. The author is president, Amdocs Global Services Division.

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