The digital transformation in the new normal

These past few weeks have been a real test of agility, adaptability and perseverance for organizations that are already envisioning their own transition to the "new normal. Change is now the new constant. Companies in Latin America are seeing and experiencing that what worked in the past may not work today, and probably will not work in the future. Why? The expectations of employees, customers, suppliers and the entire value chain have evolved due to global contingency.

Thus, it is essential to know the new customer, who seeks to give continuity to their business in the face of adversity, and provide tools to their employees so they can continue working and being efficient and productive from anywhere. Now, due to circumstances beyond our control, the digital revolution is advancing at a pace we could never have expected. Yes, we all saw the potential and, to some extent, we are moving towards more agile ways of operating.

This situation today has forced companies to accelerate their approach, pushing far beyond the comfort zone. In this environment, it is even harder to predict, but what we do know is that the new customer is much more digital, more aware and thrifty. Remember when customers had the patience to wait 48 hours for a return email, or a day for their tweet to be answered? Those days are behind us. Today's customers are buying goods and services online like never before, and the expectation now is for brands to be agile, personalized and operating in a social context.

On the other hand, companies must manage today's business, but also think about what comes next. What will your customers' expectations be? What can you offer them to stay relevant and ahead of the competition? If companies can research and "test" new ways of working, new solutions or even a new infrastructure, they will stay one step ahead.

Also, we have seen and witnessed that work is not a place where you go, but what you do, and it is essential not to have any boundary stones that hinder the smooth collaboration, safe work and maintain the connection, therefore, the provision of intelligent workspaces is crucial for any company to have continuity of its business.

According to a recent study, 53% of companies have focused on creating dynamic remote work models. And it makes sense. Companies will aim to continue investing in the health and safety of their employees. In order to avoid travel and non-essential mobility, videoconferencing and collaboration systems, as well as technologies that make up true digital work, will be indispensable for human capital to remain productive in the safest possible way, in the office or remotely.

On the other hand, in the new normal, efficiency is the cornerstone. It is important that the workforce can focus on planning and executing the activities that bring the most value to the company. To achieve this, leaders must value and rely on automation to execute repetitive tasks. Through technologies such as RPA (Robotic Process Automation), it is possible to improve critical business processes and generate fluidity and efficiency of work, through the application of analytics, robotics and machine learning in the interaction with digital systems for the execution of certain business processes.

In this new business normality, RPA becomes fundamental for executing certain repetitive activities using an interface to capture data (structured or unstructured), interpret it, generate responses and communicate with other systems.

They are expected to buy them online at a significant rate. A Forbes study reveals that, according to early statistics, Internet hits have risen by 50-70% since the World Health Organization declared the pandemic. Therefore, companies are expected to increase their digital operations, and given this context, is that the concept of Click&Collect materialized by the smart boxes is a good alternative to bring this increase by preventing contagion, reducing physical contact between people and crowding of people in a space, as sales increase through eCommerce. In this way, the transfer of goods is safer, faster and more efficient for all parties, and it is possible to reach the final customer protecting their health and well-being.

Finally, industrial firms are looking at ways to become less dependent on production chains. Additive Manufacturing" or 3D printing can benefit a wide range of companies working with plastics, metals and even foodstuffs. The potential of this technology goes beyond that, it will become part of a system of super-connected businesses. In combination with robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3D printing can create truly special opportunities. With regard to the change in companies' production chains, the results are fully measurable.

For example, if a factory employee goes to the warehouse to order a part, the warehouse manager would traditionally pick up the part in the warehouse and deliver it. What if I could tell him that in a couple of hours he could have the part created in the same factory and the specifications he required without having it in inventory or mobilizing any logistics services? Without a doubt, this is an example of what is already happening with 3D printing, its applications have no limits since they are focused on a concept, not on a machine or hardware. The pandemic made many companies rethink their supply chains, and turn more to the concept of micro-factories to avoid surprises at times when the production chain is affected, even by the closure or slowness of customs due to COVID-19.

There is undoubtedly a rocky road ahead, full of challenges and issues, but also exciting opportunities to adapt to this new business normality. There is no secret recipe or instruction, each business and sector must analyze its many variants to achieve the best way to adapt to this new world.