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Digital convergence has been around for a while, following in the footsteps of evolving technologies and upgraded networking. The development of the Internet of Things (IoT) has increased the amount of multimedia available to consumers all around the world – multimedia being the combination of audio, video, and data. 

There’s a lot of talk about digital convergence with a global pandemic raging and how it has been affected. Digital convergence has seen a massive uptake due the digital transformation demanded by the changes of 2020.  But what is digital convergence, really? And how has it impacted society?

What is Digital Convergence?

Digital convergence is the ability to use any device to view any kind of multimedia regardless of what format it takes. This seems very straightforward on the surface of things, but the technology required to allow us to stream videos from our smartphones to our televisions, read emails on our tablets, or send instant messages from our computers, has been evolving over decades. The seamless experiences so many of us take for granted has already transformed the way in which we live and work. 

What Impact has it had on Society?

Digital convergence has given society a new interconnectedness across all facets – both our personal and professional existances. Convergence has opened access to information in all its shapes and forms to all of us, no matter what devices we own. It has also allowed us to share that information more easily with others; we are no longer depenedent on the content’s format to be able to view or share it. This has lead to improved integration in communication, not only between individuals and companies but between machines as well. 

Think about it this way, if we can share information more readily across all our devices without fussing over the kind of shape it takes or its compatibilty with devices, the sharing of data between machines has taken on a whole new speed. 

The downside of digital convergence is ‘fate sharing’. If everything is interconnected across one network, then if something goes wrong with the network everything will be affected. Think of it like ‘all eggs in one basket’ – if the basket breaks, all your eggs will be on the floor in pieces, leaving you with a mess and no omelette. 

The Digital Convergence Revolution in 2021

One of the keys to unlocking the advantages of the digital convergence in 2021 will be agility. The ability to pivot based on the changing circumstances will be the difference between companies that survive the pandemic and companies that fail. 2020 taught us that digitally transformation is no longer optional, but demanded in the face of the unpredictable world we live in – you never know when a start-up competitor will undercut you, or your industry will take a hit, or a pandemic will bring the entire world to a halt. 

No matter the situation, an agile company is a strong company. In fact, 75% of executives believe the pandemic’s lasting impact will mean that we will be working faster and with more agility than before. Combined with the pandemic, the digital revolution has already left behind those brands that were stuck in rigid systems. Those brands may never recover. In fact, in the Forrester predicts that lines between marketing and customer experience functionality will blurred more than ever before, eventually leading to a true convergence and a definite increase on loyalty and rentention marketing.

2021 will be a make or break it year for all brands: either join the revolution or be left behind and miss out on all the opportunities that the new year will have to offer.

Final Thoughts

Digital convergence has carved the path for all future technology. It’s come as the natural progression through the impact of digital transformation and it’s not going anywhere. It empowers the IoT and drives the strategies behind digital marketing, research and development for new technologies, improving the way we gather, communicate, and track data, and as automate systems. Where will it all lead? Only time will tell, but with the rise of seamlessly integrated technologies like smart home devices and voice  controls, we can assume that somewhere down the line digital convergence will give birth to a single digital ecosystem. 

Despite being the tragedy of 2020, the COVID-19 crisis has driven a new wave of digital transformation and innovation approaches. Businesses learned to navigate the challenges of the coronavirus while addressing the needs of their employees, customers, and clients.

A study conducted by McKinsey & Company, a management consulting company, found that COVID-19 has forced many companies to accelerate their digital initiatives.

The research also reported that digital adoption rates during COVID-19 have increased compared to the previous surveys conducted in pre-crisis time.

These findings suggest that the coronavirus pandemic awakened businesses to the importance of digital technology. Most organizations have sped up their digital efforts to keep pace with changing consumer behaviour.

Impact of COVID-19 on Businesses

When COVID-19 broke out, businesses all over the world were impacted by a range of challenges: keeping employees and customers safe, maintaining operations, navigating government support schemes, and managing revenue.

Smaller companies, particularly start-ups, faced more devastating effects, including mass employee layoffs. In fact, small businesses had to lay off people in just a few weeks after the onset.

According to Startup Genome’s Global Startup Survey, a majority of startups saw a decline in revenue since the beginning of the crisis. The key findings from the survey include:

  • 41% of startups globally are threatened in the “red zone”—they have three months or less of cash runway left.
  • 16% of startups saw their revenue drop by more than 80%
  • 74% of startups have had to terminate full-time employees a few weeks after the onset
  • 39% of all startups had to lay off 20% or more of their staff, and 26% had to let go 60% of employees or more
  • North America is the place with the biggest share of companies reducing headcount (84%), followed by Europe (67%) and Asia (59%).

Also, micro, small, and medium enterprises’ (MSMEs) struggle to survive the effects of COVID-19 as the crisis lengthens.

In the ILO SCORE Global Covid-19 Enterprise Survey, survey results show that 70% of MSMEs have had to shut down operations. Nearly 9 out of 10 businesses are experiencing a shortage in their cashflow, affecting business continuity.

Another study  also found that the sectors with the most business closures globally were the following:

  • Travel or tourism agencies (54%)
  • Hospitality and event services (47%)
  • Education and child care services (45%
  • Performing arts and entertainment (36%)
  • Hotels, cafes, and restaurants (32%)

While many start-ups are moving closer to closure and bankruptcy, the pandemic has opened doors to many entrepreneurial businesses.

Entrepreneurs have pivoted to offer goods and services borne out of the crisis, such as face masks, commercial cleaning services, delivery and errand services, and so on.

Moreover, some businesses have managed to stay operational in the midst of COVID-19—and accelerating digital transformation has helped them a lot.

3 Ways Businesses Adopted Digital Technology During COVID-19

1. Reshape Remote Working

A vast majority of businesses across the globe have made an abrupt shift to remote work. Many have normalized the “work from home” model to protect employees, serve customers, and most importantly, establish business continuity.

Remote work and virtual teams also put a spotlight on the importance of technology.

For example, Zoom, a video conferencing application, emerged as one of the most useful tools during COVID-19. Organizations use it to collaborate with their team members, in real-time.

Other online productivity tools and employee-facing technologies have also helped employees to more easily operate at similar levels of productivity, despite working outside the office.

According to a Synergy Research Group study, cloud providers see aggressive growth amidst the coronavirus crisis. It only means that more businesses have moved to the cloud to support a remote workforce.

With COVID-19 making remote work the new normal, companies—small or large —should see cloud-based technologies as a digital transformation priority.

2. Adopt Technology-Driven Systems

The success of remote work setup during the pandemic depends on several factors, including digital technologies.

Small to medium-sized businesses, and most especially, larger corporations must invest in digital tech to manage remote employees and facilitate fast communication and collaboration.

However, the virtual work environment is susceptible to data protection and data privacy risks, requiring businesses to adopt a technology-driven system to allay the fears of security risks.

The latest Exabeam report finds that there has been a significant increase in enterprise adoption of cloud-based security solutions to support a remote workforce.

The data found that 44% of enterprises use cloud-based security products to protect corporate financial information compared to the earlier study, where only 12% were protecting corporate financial information in this way.

Additionally, about 90% of companies said they rolled out cloud-based security products at the right time for the business. Many deployed such software solutions to safeguard customer information while sending emails and sharing files.

Those who incorporated cloud technology have also seen improvements in monitoring and tracking of cyber attacks (21%) and accessing the software’s latest features (20%). These findings are evidence that digital transformation minimizes resources and overheads, allowing security analysts to complete tasks faster and focus on other projects.

3. Digitize Customer Experience

The virus not only changed the way people work but also the way people use the Internet.

With the lockdowns and limitations of activities, people seek out alternative entertainment and socialization. These include the uptake of the use of streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon,  and YouTube.  People are also connecting with distant friends on social media apps like Facebook.

Time spent online has increased, and so has how much money people spend online.

COVID-19 has driven changes in consumer behavior and put e-commerce at the forefront of retail. Pandemic-weary consumers are looking for new normal must-haves online from alcohol to hand sanitizers, face masks, cleaning supplies, skincare products, groceries, and more.

This new consumer behavior pattern has encouraged many businesses to digitize customer experiences using technological solutions like chatbots.

Short for chatterbot, this Artificial Intelligence (AI) feature helped retailers to bridge the gap in customer communications. The tool lets customers receive quick replies to their queries, eliminating the need for emails and long customer service wait times.

Use of live video streaming also spiked during the pandemic. Amazon, a big player in the e-commerce industry, entered into the live streaming space to add a human touch to internet shopping.

Facebook has got more involved with live streaming since many online merchants strive to provide personal assistance and in-store experience to their followers.

McKinsey & Company acknowledged the importance of elevating customer experience in the time of COVID-19. Engagement is a crucial aspect of digital transformation that businesses should not neglect to remain economically viable.

Final Thoughts

Businesses that embraced the digital transformation, adding cloud technology and digitized customer experiences to their arsenal, can weather any challenge, even a pandemic. They can innovate employee collaboration, protect sensitive data, and digitize the customer experience, among other benefits.

The role of marketing in this transformation is crucial. Companies should pair digital tech with a solid marketing strategy to create, drive, and deliver a customer-centric experience.

At 2Stallions, we provide digital marketing services (i.e. social media marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, etc.) that will help businesses understand and connect with their customers in today’s digital era. 

Check out our complete list of services at https://2stallions.com/service/digital-marketing/.

The digital transformation era is here. Even if we were not ready for it yet, the events of 2020 have defintely propelled us forward. Digital transformation refers to the complete integration of digital technologies into business. COVID-19 has pushed most companies into adopting some digital strategies and technologies to stay in touch with their customers and keep themselves above water. 

Full digital transformation takes time and patience. The pandemic has served as a wake-up call for businesses and their leaders to take the steps towards fully integrating digital systems across their company. Companies looking to undergo a digital transformation do not need to do it all at once. There four key aspects to digital transformation:

  • Processes
  • Business Model
  • Domain
  • Cultural/Organzation

Transforming a company at any time can be an intimidating and stressful endeavour if it is not planned out. By taking on one aspect at a time, companies can ease into the digital transformation strategically. Business processes are often the first to undergo digitization – preferred communication methods changing from old-fashioned memos to email is an example of a digital transformation that took place in the last decade for instance. Later the adoption of VOIP tools such as Skype, and afterwards instant messengers like WhatsApp, Line, or WeChat have been other such transformations that have digitized communication processes within business. 

The transformation of company culture and organization and domain are often next, following the adaptation of communication processes. Tools like project management software, or community platforms like Facebook’s Workplace or SproutSocial’s Bamboo, help bring companies together and unify company culture efforts. 

Adapting entire business models can take longer. Depending on the age and size of the business, it can take a lot of time to transform the very core of any company. Many business models have evolved over time, even if they were decided upon at the start of the company. Changes the company has faced over its lifetime will have had an impact on the way companies function. Digital transformation is no different – a type of evolution that companies will undergo if they are to survive in the new era, particularly after this pandemic.

But why should a company undergo such an evolution? 

3 Reasons to Join the Digital Transformation Era

1. Digital Customer Journeys are on the Rise

Even before 2020’s pandemic, the trend towards the digital customer journey was obvious. The global increase in e-commerce, social selling initiatives, and the general climb in Internet penetration, did not need COVID-19 or social distancing restrictions to allow humanity go digital.

Consumers have more power than ever, able to research their potential purchases and compare notes with each other using reviews and referrals. Social media has furthered this empowerment, allowing consumers to connect with each other in even more personal ways and discuss brands and purchasing options.

Marketplaces and Shopify-powered websites make brands and products even more accessible, allowing potential customers to take their time to make the purchases and do their research. In essence, from start to finish, the customer’s journey is completely digital.

Optimizing customer journey satisfaction is the way to earn customer loyalty, and it’s a known fact that loyal customers spend 67% more than new ones

Digital transformation would allow companies better access to their customer-base, not only for sales purposes but also with regards to marketing tactics. 

2. Increased Data and Insights

A company’s ability to reach its customers is one thing, but digital transformation of processes and systems also allows for the influx of data. With real time information streaming in through analytical platforms, companies can now better track, analyze, understand, and anticipate customer behaviour.

Website analytics through tools such as Google Analytics can help companies gain insight into their audience and content preferences. Other measurement tools provide insight into social media habits, conversations, and again, their content preferences. 

Additionally, with the rise in omnichannel marketing, the integration of online and offline data is an added advantage that a digital transformation can bring about. 

Getting to know your audience even better is a solid advantage, and the data and insights brought in by digital transformation is something companies cannot ignore any longer.

3. Improved Inter-Company Communication & Collaboration

The improvement of in-house communication is something many companies can use. Digitization has saved many companies during the pandemic, keeping employees connected during a time when they may have been forced to work remotely for long periods of time.

In fact, many businesses are seeing an opportunity to shift from permanent, physical office space to a more-remote-based workforce. This, of course, comes with its own downside: not everyone is cut out for remote work for long periods of time, and it is possible that productivity will suffer as a result of this. On the other hand, however, a remote workforce is flexible and, with the help of proper digital transformation, need not be disconnected. 

Providing digital means of connectivity, there is no reason that a company cannot build and maintain a strong, connected team.

Final Thoughts

Digital transformation is the next step in the evolution of business. While the pandemic may be forcing many companies to move faster than they may like, adapting to digital tools and processes seems the logical thing to do.  

Is it time for your company to undertake its own digital transformation? 2Stallions can help. We specialize in digital performance marketing, website and app development, and can help you take the next step towards a fully integrated digital business setup. Get in touch today and find out how to get started.

Consumers are going digital in a big way and businesses need to follow suit. If your company is not yet online, you are likely missing out on a majority of consumers looking for you. A solid digital marketing strategy is an essential piece for building a successful online presence.

A strategy provides your business with a digital direction and goal. It may even reveal opportunities to expand your reach. In fact, companies with a clear digital marketing plan see a 60% faster growth than those without any plan. So how can you kick start your own digital marketing strategy?

Kickstart Your Digital Marketing Strategy

The key to successful online marketing is to build a dedicated strategy that results in a strong return on investment (ROI). Marketing is iterative so it is good to keep your strategy simple. You can always reference and refine it as you go along.

The marketing strategy we recommend is a 3-step process.

You can define and structure your digital strategy in an effective way by breaking down your online marketing plan into this 3-step process.

1.  Business strategy

The first step to an online marketing strategy is to understand your own business, and the market surrounding it. You begin with a review of your company’s strengths and competitive advantage. These are distinct values that differentiate you from your competitors.

This exercise also illuminates areas you should focus on to market your business. So what makes up the business strategy?

a.   Mission statement

Start with your mission statement. It should be a one-sentence summary that defines what your company does.

b.   Objectives

Objectives refer to organizational objectives that are necessary to keep the business running and to maintain your brand identity.

c.   Value proposition

Value proposition is about your company’s unique selling point or the competitive advantage that you have over your competitors.

d.   Elevator pitch

An elevator pitch would be a short summary of your brand’s value proposition. It will be a short sentence that concisely expresses your brand’s value proposition. 

Here is a sample of a business strategy worksheet filled in for a fictitious brand called “H+ Sports”.

After you create your business strategy, you should have a fundamental understanding of your business. The next step is to identify your customers and determine where you find them online.

2.  Customer Strategy

A customer strategy helps you identify who and where your customers are. This makes it easier for you to develop marketing messages specific to each group of customers. Tailoring your marketing message for each customer group results in quality leads and conversions.

The key, once again, is to keep it simple. Here is the sample customer strategy worksheet for H+ Sports.

a.   Target Audience

One marketing message may not answer the needs of all customers. You should categorize your customers into groups based on a common criterion. For H+ Sports, the target audience is split into 3 groups based on gender and interest. This will make it easier for their business to create specific marketing messages for each group.

a.   Audience Goals

Identify the specific targeted audience’s goals. Find out what they are looking to accomplish. Figure out their needs. It is your job to ensure you can fulfill these needs, otherwise, customers have no reason to purchase from you.

b.   Audience technology  

Finally, with audience technology, you want to identify what channels your audience is using so that you can work on reaching out to them there.

Now that you have identified your targeted customer groups and the potential marketing channels, it is time to develop marketing strategies for each of the channels.

3.  Marketing Strategy

The last of the 3-step strategy process is to create a marketing strategy. This will be your guide as you explore different marketing channels. At this stage, you will develop individual marketing plans tailored to the goals of each audience segment.

a.   Goal

Your goal needs to be specific to the results you want to achieve from your marketing efforts. For H+ Sports, their goal is to sell H+ nutritional supplements. Hence, the marketing messages for each channel should follow this goal.

b.   Channel

Continuing with our example of H+ Sports, let us focus on one of the target groups. Let us females aged 18-35 who are interested in fitness. Here we look at the channels where this group is likely to be found, and hence where we should focus our marketing on. From there, develop a marketing idea for each of the media available: paid, earned and owned

c.   Types of Media

Paid media is essentially you paying to promote content. For earned media, it is usually a combined result of strong organic rankings on the Search Engines, and content distributed by the brand. Owned media is any web property that you can control.

It is up to you to decide the type of content you want to publish on each channel. Remember to push out content that will help you engage the audience best on each channel. Once you are done crafting the marketing content for each channel, you are good to go. At this stage, you would have created a cohesive digital strategy that will work for you.

Wrapping Up

Developing a marketing strategy is an iterative process, not a plan set in stone. As your customer behavior continues to change, your business will have to adapt the strategies it adopts.

You can stay ahead of the competition with continued research of your market and customers. Always compare your business relative to your competitors. Gain an advantage by being the first to reach customers and stay relevant to the marketing channels available to you. This will ensure your business maximizes all opportunities to gain the best return of investment (ROI).

What are you waiting for? Get started with your digital strategy now!

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