A New Sense of Urgency
The two virtual roundtable discussions hosted by Kestria in late March 2021 provided confirmation of the changes in attitudes resulting over the preceding year. Participants in the roundtables indicated that any reluctance there had been to implementing digital transformation prior to the year of lockdowns quickly dissipated when it became clear that business continuity depended on the adoption of technological tools.
“There was a key that turned once we decided to go online. We had to become productive, growth-minded and very efficient in an online environment, and productivity went through the roof,” said VanDyck Silveira, CEO at Trevisan Escola de Negócios, a business school based in São Paulo Brazil. “There is no way I could have predicted in 2019 that this is where we would be. It is the ride of a lifetime; it is like I am walking into a new business,” Silveira added.
In the past, digital was just an afterthought, an add-on or complement to the business, added Ryan Vergara, Head of Digital Solutions, Phillipines at Roche, a global pharmaceutical and diagnostics company based in Basel, Switzerland. With the push from senior management, however and a specific call for digital to become second nature, it’s become easier to drive digital initiatives throughout the organization, Vergara said.
“We’re flexible to adopt it, but we need guidance on how best to adopt these technologies,” said Andrew Mok, Chief Information Officer and Digital Advisory, Infrastructure, Security and Robotics at Montreal-based Medicom Group. Our ways of working have changed to match the technology, and will forever evolve as well,” Mok added.
WESCO International, a global supply chain solutions company based in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, transitioned to digital virutally overnight, said Akash Khurana, Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Digital Officer. “There is a huge acknowledgement of what we are able to do in a virtual environment. We completed a merger of two companies digitally,” Khurana said, noting that productivity at WESCO had also increased considerably alongside its digital transformation.
“This era made the case for us to accelerate our journey. We always had talked about how we should leverage digital technologies to deliver these solutions and make them more scalable. Before Covid, we had to stitch things together and make a business case for it. Now we have a platform, which is a launchpad for products that we take to market. If you do it right, it will allow you to scale up very quickly and bring incremental revenue,” Khurana added.
At CJ Logistics, a supply chain solutions company based in Chicago, there’s been a palpable shift in mindset, such that it’s become completely acceptable for employees to work remotely, dispelling the notion that, “If you are not in the office, you are not working,” said Chief Information Officer Greg Sheen.
For many organizations, the technical tools were already in place, or were readily available, but the organizations’ relationship with and attitude towards technology had to change for digital transformation to gain traction, said Rodney Johnson, President of Erudite Risk, a risk management and security firm.