COVID-19 Disruption to Global Economy and the 4Ds

Digital, Digitization, Digitalization & Digital Transformation

2020 started off as a bright year for most; setting short term and long term goals with lots of hope and dreams for the year; organizations setting new sales and revenue targets, launching new products and services for profits and to increase market share; USA and China in economy tussle; while for sports, looking forward to worldwide events like the Olympics, the EURO 2020, and with Liverpool 3 games away from lifting the English Premiership after 30 years of waiting.

2020 was exciting and going well for so many until the global outbreak of COVID-19 which started from Wuhan city in China and spread to the rest of the world bringing businesses and the global economy to a standstill. Directly or indirectly, we have all been affected negatively or positively as a result of COVID-19.

What is the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and global economy and what more do we need to know?

According to John Hopkins University, as at the time this article was written, we had more than 3.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases globally, and 263,000 deaths recorded worldwide, with the US being the worst hit. Many businesses and economics have suffered losses, of which some will never recover from. Over 50 countries are still on lockdown, 4% GDP in decline, over 25 million jobs lost globally, and there is a 30%-40% decline in the stock market according to Bloomberg.

Digital Products and Services in COVID-19 Era

The future of economy and business, either big or small, is Digital — going digital or providing digital products and services is key to business survival. The impact of COVID-19 is reshaping the future of business globally, with some suffering huge revenue loss and others hitting unexpected revenue to keep shareholders happy. Companies that are strategically positioned digitally are winning the war over the pandemic while their counterparts have suffered more revenue losses.

We have seen the rapid growth of internet connectivity (over 80%) as a result of people stuck at home during the lockdown or in isolation. More of our time is being spent online either working from home with the help of the Internet, consuming digital products and services for increased productivity or entertainment, learning new skills for development, or connecting with friends and family.

People are now reliant on digital products and services that allow us to work, pay bills, socialize, learn from home, etc. We have seen an increase in the usage of remote work apps like Zoom, Google-Hangout, Google Classroom, Microsoft Team, etc. Learning is now online; the business meeting is now happening online.

Digitization of Business Processes and Operations for Revenue and Growth in COVID-19 Era

Words like ‘Digital’ and ‘Virtual’ are the most searched in the last few weeks, according to google, because a situation like COVID-19 has pushed us to do the needful. The pandemic has forced government-owned enterprises and private enterprises that have not digitized their business processes to make non-scalable business decisions to continue operations and serve customers. We have heard of organizations lodging staff at nearby hotels for quick and easy access to the office location or customer site.

However, with digitization, we can choose how to work and when to work. With all the data and information being stored on digital media and devices, we can easily transform it and access it from anywhere. Technological progress and digitization make it possible to adjust the work schedule to personal needs and lifestyle.

Since many services are provided with the use of technological tools, more and more companies rely on freelancers and remote workers as they can deliver their work via the internet and also collaborate with team members virtually through the use of digital products like Zoom, Microsoft Team, Google Hangout, etc, and teams deliver tasks — maybe even faster than working from the office —and allows for collaboration and partnership.

Digitization is not an IT project but a business strategy driven by top management.

Digitization will help an organization to change a business model and provide a new revenue stream and value-producing opportunities; digitization gives a competitive advantage by doing things, faster, cheaper and better than the competition. Digitization is so important in our work and in the business world today as it contributes positively to the constant change and development. Work doesn’t look like it used to 20 or 50 years ago. It became more elastic as people can easily work from anywhere with the help of digital tools and digitization content.

We witnessed and experienced how the consumption of digital products and services sustained us during this period of lockdown and the new rules of social distance. We have also seen digitization giving us options to continue to do things we love from the comfort of our homes. The movie theatres are closed but we have the option of Netflix; restaurants are closed but we still have the option of ordering our favourite meals online and also buying the groceries online and having them delivered to our doorsteps.

Digitization is helping mankind to sustain during the lockdown periods, and these digital products and services will continue to be part of our lives post COVID-19.

On its part, digitalization promises much-needed improvement both in the delivery of public services, onboarding processes and turnaround time.

Digital Transformation Post COVID-19

What does Digital Transformation mean for Business? Digital transformation is changing the way business gets done and, in some cases, creating entirely new classes of businesses. With digital transformation, companies are taking a step back and revisiting everything they do, from internal systems to customer interactions both online and in person.

As countries began to ease on the lockdown, allowing gradual economic and business activities to comeback in phases even with health and safety rules to prevent the new spread of the coronavirus (as research work for a vaccine continues to make significant progress), we have seen a quick shift in businesses using new tools to engage customers and offer products and services as a move from the traditional way of doing things to the smart, digital-driven way of managing customers and business and adding value.

We have discussed the rise in the demand of internet connectivity; Zoom becoming a company worth $20 Billion within 3 months. Netflix was given the ability not only to stream video content directly to customers but also to gain unprecedented insights into viewing habits and preferences. It uses that data to inform everything from the design of its user experience to the development of first-run shows and movies at in-house studios. That’s digital transformation in action —  taking advantage of available technologies to inform how a business should run.

Digital Transformation framework

  • Customer experience
  • Operational agility
  • Culture and leadership
  • Workforce enablement
  • Digital technology integration

Post COVID-19: Digital Transformation in Nigeria

In Nigeria, the private sector has been the major driver for innovation and the adoption of digital and emerging technology, with the public sector lagging behind. The lack of interest in the public sector has generally slowed the overall digital technological advancement in Nigeria.

The time is now for government-owned businesses and enterprises to shift from the traditional way of offering products and services and move to digital. The world may never go back to normal, we have learned so many sweet and bitter lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic which have greatly changed the way businesses offer products and services which is the reality of things and the new normal.

Many people demanding government-owned products or services will still prefer to be served digitally as the social distance will continue even after the pandemic is long gone. Our way of doing business and providing goods and services may change forever too. Government-owned businesses must shift from the traditional way to the digital way to continue to be in existence.

The Way Forward

With the disruption caused by COVID-19, we expect digitization to open up a new stream of business opportunities and revenue. The way that interferes with our new future will determine the survival or extinction of any organization. COVID-19, however, has accelerated the potential of both.

As companies have transformed themselves with digital technologies, people are calling on governments to follow suit. By digitizing, governments can provide services that meet the evolving expectations of citizens and businesses, even in a period of tight budgets and increasingly complex challenges. By digitizing processes and making organizational changes, governments can enhance services, save money, and improve citizens’ quality of life.

2020 will be a year of reckoning for digital initiatives. Organizations that continue to underestimate the need for culture change do so at their own peril.

Seamfix is here to listen to our clients and help them to drive a digital culture, either through digitization, digitalization, or using digital transformation to manage a business by creating new products and services or enhancing existing products to keep customers happy. Do you feel woefully behind? Are you a government-owned business ready to go digital? or a private enterprise on the journey to digital transformation? We are ready to help you accelerate your digital transformation journey.


Written by Micheal Nwogu (Business Growth Executive, Seamfix)

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