If digital transformation was not already a priority for companies, the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly made it one. It will look different for every business, but one thing we can say for sure is that the pandemic has catapulted many businesses forward in this area – whether they liked it or not.

When you think of using digital tools in business, most people automatically think of marketing and sales implementation – such as social media, digital publications, and online customer service – but there is potential for it deliver so much more.

Below is just a small selection of the ways Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation for businesses.

Remote working

This is an obvious change that has been made for many businesses during the pandemic. Across the country workers have been told to stay at home, and where staff may have traditionally sat within bricks and mortar, they are now working virtually. It probably comes as no surprise that Zoom’s revenue for its fiscal first-quarter between February and April more than doubled from the same time last year to $328m, turning a profit of $27m compared with $198,000 a year ago.

Many companies were slowly creeping towards flexibility and allowing staff to work from home, but there has often been a resistance to diving in and going entirely digital. This pandemic has forced some companies to do so, and they are already seeing the benefits. Why spend large proportions of profits on a physical building if you do not need to? Why not put that money into another part of your business, or invest in your staff? Why send your staff around the world to sales conferences at a large financial and environmental cost?

Of course this does still come with challenges (for example, how can you help teams to work and feel engaged when working from home, or even from multiple locations – sometimes from home, sometimes in a public space?) but the world of work is already starting to look very different.

Online-offline integration

For businesses that need bricks and mortar, and walk-in customers, the pandemic has seen them looking at new ways to drive businesses. Independent shops, pubs, and cafes have found ways to add value to their customers for example by offering take-out or by offering click and collect services, not a brand-new concept of course but not one they had perhaps considered using before. Many of these may keep these additional services as it has worked so well for them and encourages customers to shop locally – another trend that we can be hopeful sticks around post-pandemic.

New ways to reach customers directly

This is not just about email marketing and chat-bots on a website, but also about looking at all the tools at your disposal. During the pandemic Mars Petcare worked with the Waltham Petcare Science Institute to launch a new way to communicate with their customers. Concerned with the amount of misinformation and having recognised that pet owners were feeling stressed about caring for their pets during the pandemic, they launched “Pet Health Pal,” a free digital education tool powered by the Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp chat bot functionality. This gave their customers access to expert advice, in a private space, and gave them valuable insights into the needs of their audience.

Taunton based insurance claims handling provider, Claims Consortium Group, also found another way to reach customers and announced the launch of a free community wellbeing hub at the start of the pandemic. The resources were initially developed to support Claims Consortium Group’s 300-strong team who were all working from home. Since the content proved so helpful, the company wanted to make it freely available to all, and the wellbeing hub was born.

Both great examples of adapting and using digital transformation to reach customers and add value to their usual services.

What does digital transformation mean for Somerset businesses?

Research has shown that productivity has traditionally been around 20% lower in Somerset than the UK average. But we know that Somerset has huge potential and we want to put it on the innovation map of the UK. Digital transformation within businesses has the potential to support an increase in productivity and drive our Somerset businesses further than ever before.

Our team of experts are on hand to work with you on digital transformation and what it means for your business. If you are ready to take the next step and see your business grow, find out how to apply to the Somerset Catalyst programme.