COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation forward years. An enforced transition to home working, reduction in access to physical sites, and cautionary customer approach to physical engagement has significantly amplified existing trends towards adoption of digital channels and technologies.

The impact of this digital accelerator has implications across all industries, from telecommunications and entertainment through to finance and utilities. Companies struggling to successfully steer their digital transition now face an even greater challenge in staying competitive.

Boston Consulting Group estimates that at the height of the pandemic, as many as 300 million office workers globally were working from home. It identified an 800% increase in use of collaboration software, reflecting a remarkable transformation in business operations.

Consumer sentiment also continues to experience deep disruptions according to research by McKinsey. The consumer powerhouse nation of the United States reveals that by November, 80% of consumers still admitted to feeling unsafe, and just one-third of consumers were returning to ‘normal’ habits, a slight fall from sentiment earlier in that year. Digital channels remain vital in this cautious landscape.

This combination of business shifts, enhanced digital engagement, and persistent transformation in consumer behavior heightens the critical imperative for digital business transformation.

Diving deep into digital transformation trends

Businesses face significant challenges in keeping up with the pace of digital transformation. Shifts in consumer behavior often steer change, yet the pace of change inspired by COVID-19 makes such efforts increasingly difficult.

McKinsey’s US Consumer Sentiment Survey identifies five fundamental shifts, with three key and persistent trends that will impact customer engagement and business opportunity moving forward. They are a 20-40% net decrease in intent to spend on discretionary categories, 20-50% net increase in intent to spend online, even post-COVID-19, with 78% of consumers having changed stores, brands, or the way they shop

While this study reflects just one market, it provides a mirror to trends reverberating around the world of persistent digital shift and increasingly sparse customer loyalty.

PWC’s Global Consumer Insight Survey 2020 reveals that 45% of consumers are using their mobile phone more as a shopping channel since the COVID-19 outbreak, resisting the assumption that at-home would reduce mobile use. 36% are spending more on entertainment and media, and 35% are buying groceries online or by phone since COVID-19. This persistent transition means solutions such as Neural Technologies’ Mobile Money product will be increasingly important for understanding and analyzing vast amounts of mobile engagement data.

The PWC study also highlights some of the remarkable business transformations driven by COVID-19. 74% of those surveyed are working from home at least some of the time. Remote working is likely to be one of the most fundamental shifts that are embedded in long-term business operations following COVID-19.

McKinsey’s research reveals the remarkable acceleration of digital engagement during this period. The average share of customer interactions that are digital grew from 36% globally in December 2019 to 58% in July 2020. This triggered a major shift in the share of digital business offerings, with the number of offerings that were partially or fully digital growing from 35% in December 2019 to 55% by July 2020.

Executives note their companies responded to these COVID-19 changes much more quickly than they expected, showing the remarkable agility of the business community. An increase in remote working and collaboration took just 10 days on average, compared to an expected 454 days, an acceleration factor 43 times greater than expected. Increasing use of advanced technologies, use of advanced technologies for business decision making, both accelerated at 25-fold the rate expected.

The McKinsey report also reveals how executives view the persistence of these changs. 62% believe changing customer needs or expectations are here to stay, alongside 54% for remote working, 54% for increased migration to the cloud, 53% for increased online demand, and 53% for increased spending on data security.

These changes are here for the long term, which means embracing digital transformation is a renewed priority for business.

Deepening digital transformation to compete

Digital transformation is fundamental to business success in this accelerated digital environment. It is no longer a case of just accessing lucrative competitive advantage, but in many cases many underpin business contniuity.

Neural Technologies has been working with customers around the world to drive digital transformation for decades. Optimized, data-driven processes are a pathway to a more efficient, cost-effective, and informed business. That’s clearly a priority for organizations in this landscape.

global survey of enterprise decision makers by cloud communication platform Twilio offers clear evidence of this changing mindset in business leaders around the world.  97% of decision makers believe the pandemic sped up their company’s digital transformation.

While 79% of decision makers noted that COVID-19 had increased their budget for digital transformation, there remain significant barriers to delivery. 37% cite a lack of clear strategy, 37% challenges in getting executive approval, 35% reluctance to replace legacy software, and 34% note lack of time.

Neural Technologies’ digital transformation solutions are designed to be quickly adapted, and rapidly scaled out as business needs require. The powerful Optimus Platform provides a data-driven approach to digital transformation, ensuring that enterprises are not only accelerating their digital transition, but doing so in an informed and effective manner. That’s particularly important in a rapidly changing business landscape, affected by the deep trends triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This accelerated digital shift amplifies the value of data at the foundation of your business. At the same time however, it highlights many of the challenges businesses face in deriving the right value from that data. Partnering with a technology partner like Neural Technologies offers a valuable route to steer through those difficulties.