Why businesses need to accelerate digitally to beat a crisis

April 2020

By Elliot Maher, co-founder, Rising Tyde

“Who is driving digital transformation in your business right now? Your CEO? Your CTO? Or Covid-19?”

You’ve probably all seen this meme. It’s mildly amusing, but also true. The coronavirus outbreak has shifted the whole world pretty much entirely online, from working and learning to exercising and socialising. As former Unilever chief marketer Keith Weed notes, over 15 years’ worth of people came online in just 15 days.

With the world in lockdown, consumers have driven an unparalleled demand for online purchasing.  Shoppers are now expecting easy to use e-commerce platforms and uninterrupted service, so businesses have had to pivot at breakneck speed. Cafes and restaurants have turned into home-delivery artisan produce providersand Heinz has launched its first online shop. Leon, M&S and Morrisons have tapped into the lucrative food box market, already set to be worth £1 billion by 2022.

Businesses with little or no digital presence, or an outdated one, are having to transform before they were planning to – forced out of their comfort zones to survive. With finance and furlough top of the issues list, it may seem like accelerated digital transformation is too much to face now.

But as the UN predicts nearly 200 million job losses worldwide, the prognosis for business is: transform, or become a coronavirus statistic.

What does it mean – and how challenging does it have to be?

Investing in digital transformation now will see your business through most crises, making you more unified, agile, resilient, relevant and effective.

And being an effective digital business means having the customer at the heart of everything: every experience, touchpoint and engagement supports your customers’ needs. Your user experience, e-commerce platforms, marketing, customer service, and corporate culture need to be data-driven and continuously optimising – with all teams on the same page. When you have the tools to use data to see patterns and trends, you can capitalise by making the right strategic shifts, and pivot before a crisis forces your hand.

Here are three examples of businesses Rising Tyde has worked with who embraced digital transformation before coronavirus – and why this will make them stronger in the face of future challenges.

Knowing your customer painpoints – and knowing how to act on them

Global engineering and architecture consultancy Ramboll recognised the need for a huge step change – creating SiteSolve, a new 3D modelling tool for developers and architects to assess the development potential of residential sites in seconds. Reducing the time and cost that goes into the site viability assessment process, SiteSolve not only demonstrates huge potential for the future of construction, but is a big first for Ramboll and its digital product journey.

Before launching, the final piece of the puzzle for Ramboll was to put the power of SiteSolve straight into the user’s hands – making it fully automated so users could find, discover and register, and then use the product without any human intervention.

The SiteSolve team conducted customer interviews to identify pain points and needs, such as excessive timeframes and costs in the quote and bid development process. We then helped identify how these translated into a working product. User flows for account creation, sign-up and ongoing management were developed, accompanied by design work across the brand, a marketing website, customer emails for setting up and managing the account, and the customer portal.

By focusing on the customer experience and putting critical thinking at the heart of SiteSolve, each customer journey touchpoint was fully thought through and supported – no gap was left unplugged.

Do you know what your customer pain points are, and how to convert those into solutions? Can you leverage technology to give your customers ownership of your product?

Keeping up with changing customer behaviours and needs

Mail Manager, a solution to make email management more efficient, had grown significantly, thanks in part to a big expansion into the US. With this came new client needs, such as spending less time in the office and needing key emails and documents on the go. Mail Manager required a more dynamic, robust solution that streamlined the complexity of the system and addressed the needs of a broad, global client base. It became clear through research and testing that the solution not only needed to be an app, but something people could use natively as a primary email solution.

Do you have the right platforms and systems in place to see how your customers’ behaviours and needs are changing? Once you do, you’ll be equipped to respond now, and in the future as they continue to evolve.

Reaching new audiences – and helping them find you

Despite being one of the first e-commerce businesses in the greetings cards space, Greetings Card Company’s previous website was not mobile friendly, resulting in declining traffic and sales and preventing it from reaching new audiences. There was also a disconnect between the perceived core customer group versus the actual customer – not everyday consumers, but small businesses ordering for clients and staff. To stride confidently into the next phase, both a front and back end rebuild was in order, alongside an overall brand refresh. With a new site, more efficient systems, and a clearer customer picture, SEO traffic is up, conversions are up and so are revenues.

Are you digitally enabled to ensure you’re servicing the right core customer? What do you need to change to reach new audiences?

The magic solution?

It would be easy to conclude that the magic solution is creating a new website or app. They’re a big part of the picture, but won’t help solve future problems unless you know how to harness the data from all your channels. In our experience, a business’s assumed problem is often vastly different from reality, because they haven’t been looking closely enough at their customer data. Digitally savvy businesses are able to leverage this and act on key insights to move in the right direction.

Ultimately, digital transformation is about using technology and data to make all parts of a business customer-centric, and tie them all together. The time to accelerate your digital strategy is here, and it’s not something to be afraid of. Embrace making your business stronger, and hopefully, crisis-proof.