When I was in the early stages of planning to launch a start up business in 2021, I read an interesting article in HBR – Harvard Business Review on research into how Covid-19 has boosted digital transformation in businesses. The article was written by Keith Gile and titled How Digital has Become A Hub for Innovation. In this piece, Mr Gile identified six industries that he believes have been significantly enhanced by the adoption of digital transformation. These industries are retail, hospitality, technology, life science, communications and manufacturing.
The benefits that digital transformation brings do therefore require additional research. What is lacking however is a plan to monitor progress at a national level and track progress at a regional level. One can start by looking at the examples set out by Mr Gile – the six industries highlighted above. They have all been affected by the adoption of digital transformation at some point in their development process. Therefore, there is scope for additional research on how the Covid-19 program has improved productivity and efficiency across these industries.
If we are to understand how digital transformation has affected our lives better, it is important to take stock of how we communicate. My generation grew up with TV, radio and the internet as primary ways to communicate. Today, we rely heavily on these mediums to interact with each other, our friends and families. For businesses, we live in a world where information circulates at lightening speed. This means that companies must adopt modern communications systems if they are to continue growing and remain competitive.
Another area in which companies must invest if they want to continue being competitive is in customer service. This has become the new business mantra. Today’s customers expect instantaneous response, and businesses are expected to be able to provide this service. The research on how covid-19 has affected customer service should therefore focus on how measures taken by the Government are improving it.
Finally, the research on how digital transformation has boosted digital transformation at a national level should also look at how its impact is felt at a regional level. I have been studying the impact that covid-19 has had on the South African Internet market. It has delivered a major blow to local businesses. In particular, the closure of Internet cafe WiFi hotspots has had a negative impact on the startup of small and medium sized enterprises. However, I have seen an increase in online business activity and online commerce in the last few months since the closure of the cafes, and this trend shows no sign of slowing down.