A Silver Lining to the Pandemic

By Louis Schiavone Jr., Avenu President & Chief Customer Officer

How Digital Leaders Can Leverage the Pandemic to Their Benefit

It’s not easy to feel optimistic after the struggles of 2020. It’s certainly not easy to think about silver linings in the face of such tragic loss of life and the impact of record-breaking unemployment and widespread business closures, all of which have hurt Americans’ families, finances and futures.  I certainly do not wish to diminish the tragedy that impacted so many.

Yet as devastating as the pandemic has been on all of us, there are some positive effects from COVID-19’s disruptive impact on society. As Socrates roughly said in Plato’s Republic, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” While COVID-19 has forced new and often very difficult challenges onto us all, these very same challenges have spurred invention, innovation and rapid change. Just think about how quickly we developed a successful COVID vaccine! If we embrace the pandemic’s silver lining, we will reap its benefits for years to come.

Nowhere is the pandemic’s silver lining clearer than in the realm of digital transformation. During 2020, we witnessed an entire generation of citizens, consumers, and employees switch from in-person transactions to online and digital-first platforms. People no longer just prefer the convenience of digital services when available; they now demand digital convenience for everything from their local grocery stores to their local governments.

Businesses and governments are hearing the message loud and clear. Companies and government agencies that were previously reluctant to provide online services have since rushed to put them in place to handle rising demand.

In some cases, these services have had to be invented from scratch. In others, existing but underdeveloped platforms simply needed to be built out. But in every case, the end result was the same: rapid-fire digital adoption across almost every industry sector and business domain. In just the first eight weeks of the pandemic, digital adoption was accelerated by five years.

What’s more, digital adoption will only grow in speed and impact. We’ve crossed what McKinsey calls the “technology tipping point.” From here on out, digital transformation is both a business imperative and an inevitability. There’s no going back to the way things were.

Consequently, the most successful business and organizational leaders will leverage this digital momentum and lean in to the changes happening across the country. With the right digital strategy, leaders in business and in government can do more than simply meet demand; they can anticipate the next wave of digital growth and become digital leaders.

That means COVID-19 hasn’t just created a new normal for businesses and governments; it has also created a new set of opportunities. In our rapidly changing economy, digital transformation leaders can expect to capture additional market presence. One recent SAP study found that 85% of digital transformation leaders increased their market share through their digital efforts.

But some of the digital economy’s new opportunities can be found in familiar places, too. As strange as it may seem, the shift to a digital-first, socially distanced and online economy can strengthen existing business relationships and encourage those relationships to grow in new ways. When digital leaders embrace innovation, they can deliver additional value and efficiency to their existing clients or partners.

I’ve seen this firsthand at Avenu. As the pandemic increased our clients’ need for digital innovation, we were able to provide critical digital services that helped them bridge the gap from where they were to where they needed to be. But we are not alone. Across the country, increasing digitalization is a chance to revamp and reinvigorate existing business relationships.

Almost everyone and almost every aspect of our economy can benefit from digital innovation in the post-pandemic world. There may be a lot of challenges still ahead, but the new opportunities and widespread changes created by the pandemic have a definite positive side for the leaders who know how to leverage them.