After grappling with an unprecedented global pandemic, the world finds itself navigating more uncertain times with rising inflation, historically high interest rates, and the U.S. wavering on the brink of another recession.
With these uncertain times, CEOs are confronted with difficult decisions – such as where can we cut costs, and how can we reallocate resources to weather the storm? Amidst cost-cutting efforts, there is often a temptation to put a hold on digital transformation projects. While remote work initiatives have accelerated the adoption of digital technology, investments in technology during economic downturns are usually approached with caution. However, defunding digital transformation during a downturn might not be a wise decision.
Despite the ongoing macroeconomic pressures, global business leaders are recognizing the need for digital transformation to meet innovation demands. According to the 2023 Insight Intelligent Technology Report, 82% of leaders agree that companies must invest in digital transformation to stay competitive. Furthermore, 49% see keeping up with technological innovation compared to competitors as a top threat over the next 12 months, surpassing concerns about inflation and an economic downturn.
Here’s why driving forward investments in digital initiatives, such as knowledge work automation, helps prepare organizations for uncertainty while remaining competitive and maintaining the agility and flexibility needed to adapt to major changes.
- Streamlines daily work and increases efficiency: Digital transformation projects often involve automating manual processes and workflows, which streamlines daily work and frees up knowledge workers to concentrate on the tasks that drive better business outcomes. In challenging economic times, efficiency is the name of the game. By reducing the need for manual work, minimizing errors, and optimizing resources, organizations can not only control costs, but make a substantial improvement to the bottom line.
- Enhances remote/hybrid work and business continuity: The pandemic highlighted the importance of remote/hybrid work capabilities to keep business ticking along. Even though the pandemic is over, organizations should still have emerging tech that enables employees to access critical information from anywhere and fosters a culture of collaboration high on their list of digital transformation initiatives. Collaboration tools that leverage AI allow teams to efficiently locate information, share it, and collaborate more effectively with internal and external stakeholders. This enhances teamwork and business continuity while making the organization more flexible and resilient in the face of disruptions.
- Improves customer experience: During times of economic uncertainty, customers still expect the same level of care and attention that they have always received. By automating workflows and improving communication channels with digital transformation efforts, businesses can enhance the customer experience, anticipate clients’ needs, and personalize services. When customers are looking to cut costs, maintaining strong customer relationships and loyalty becomes of the utmost importance, so investing in these technologies can help retain clients and drive sales and growth.
- Enables data-driven decision-making: If information is trapped in data silos and only available to certain teams, all that knowledge is essentially cut off from other employees who might be able to use it. This not only puts up a barrier where one doesn’t need to exist, but it also makes it impossible for people and technologies to talk to one another and derive valuable insight from that data. Deploying technologies that allow data to flow freely across your entire organization empowers executives to make data-driven decisions and identify trends, opportunities, and areas that require cost-cutting or optimization, which is essential during tough economic times.
- Fortify security and compliance: In challenging economic times, the last thing your business needs is to be hit with hefty fines, enforcement actions, and costly redress to customers because you were in violation of government rules and regulations. Investing in technologies that can assist with compliance requirements and data security, such as tracking document versions and permissions, automating data retention or destruction, and creating electronic audit trails, helps organizations reduce business risk and ensure compliance with industry regulations and data protection laws.
As we continue to weather the storm of these uncertain times, it’s essential for business leaders to remember that, as the saying goes, “this too shall pass” – the economy will recover, and the business landscape will evolve. The key is to be better equipped and ready to take on the new opportunities and challenges that will come afterward. Planning and preparing now with future-forward digital initiatives will prime your organization to face the future with resilience and innovation.