Accelerating digital transformation: Building a technology foundation for success

Woman working on laptop

By Josh Van Tonder

Posted on 08-31-2020

As we recalibrate into work life amid the pandemic, business transformation and agility are a necessity. Each phase following the initial response to COVID-19 has required rapid pivots as priorities shift to react to customer and employee demands. How can a business deliver customer experience in this age of ever-changing engagement options? Technology is a big part of the answer.

Six months following initial stay-at-home orders, we are now seeing the ways in which technology can keep the world afloat. Whether its remote collaboration and customer engagement, or transactions completed outside of physical stores, technology is allowing us to continue business even through a global pandemic.

A survey by IDC says 73 percent of IT managers expect to accelerate or maintain digital transformation, and 58 percent of companies expect to increase their annual technology budgets due to COVID-19. So, with these resources, how does a brand architect for success?

There are three pillars of digital transformation needed to accelerate business in this climate:

Let’s take a look at each more closely below:

Employee engagement across multiple environments

Employee experience is no longer just about benefits. The conversation has shifted to remote worker management, communication, productivity, collaboration, and safe office environment policies. As offices open, businesses need to provide appropriate information in buildings to keep employees safe and informed about workplace rules of engagement like physical distancing, masks, or room capacity. And companies have to think about all of the above to ensure safe and coordinated operations.

How can this be achieved? One way forward is to build effective strategies around online portals and digital asset management.

The first step for any brand is investing in an enhanced intranet. Today, digital is often the main or exclusive channel to connect employees. According to Gartner, 74 percent of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work post-COVID-19. By re-imagining the digital portal or the corporate intranet website to unify multiple, disparate employee-facing systems under one unified experience, brands can speed up employee communications and expedite digital service in a remote-only world.

With almost 12,000 shops and clubs in 27 countries worldwide, Walmart has an incredible challenge keeping its thousands of employees informed, engaged, and experience-led every day. Yet, strategic thinking and development of its OneWalmart intranet before COVID-19 hit ensured that its global community of over 12 million employees could access the information they needed to do their job effectively, even during the height of the pandemic.

OneWalmart is personalized to meet the needs of each employee, tailored with messaging pertinent to each employee’s particular role. What is presented to a sales associate differs from what is shown to a marketing manager. The intranet recognizes immediate needs from someone in a specific position and delivers messaging straight to them, avoiding unnecessary searches or hunting for information. During the height of COVID-19, store operational changes, alterations to policies, and more, were constantly updated — even during periods when stay-at-home orders had most of the company working from home.

With over 1 million unique visitors a month, OneWalmart is now a must-see portal for all Walmart employees worldwide and an important tool for the company to share best practices, ensure safety and security — and express thanks through an incredibly challenging period for the brand, its customers, and staff.

Freeing commerce from friction

Consumers are spending more online than ever before during the pandemic. And there are some transactions that need an added layer of security or legality when they are undertaken. According to Adobe, there has been an astronomical jump in digital adoption of signature-based processes. Digital is now the primary way to do business, and brands that meet demand, such as by offering digital ways to complete previously paperwork-heavy transactions, will succeed.

Many critical transactions — like applying for a loan or government benefit — depend on paper-based processes. Organizations need to look for solutions that can offer ways to digitize mission-critical paper form processes. Consumers will appreciate the offer to avoid annoying visits to packed waiting rooms or appointment halls, and employees will also appreciate this as they won’t have to expose themselves to COVID-19 due to in-person interaction with customers or through handling of paper forms. Some e-forms and e-document solutions can go live in just a few weeks, making this one of the more rapid and easier-to-implement options for brands looking to invest in post-pandemic experience offerings.

The city of Seattle, for example, decided to modernize its operations prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. The timing worked to their advantage. When COVID-19 hit, the government was well-positioned to adapt to their new digital challenge.

“Why walk that paper form you printed, in an interoffice envelope, 44 floors from your desk and wait an indefinite amount of days for a signature when it can be done in two minutes digitally on your phone while you pick up your contactless mobile order at Starbucks,” says Dan Lewis, digital workplace creator and interim director, in a previous interview discussing the city of Seattle’s digital transformation journey and how technology played a role. “Work in the digital world we live.”

Investing in infrastructure for agility

For delivering great digital customer experiences, digital asset management (DAM) is another tool that can solve the challenges posed by remote teamwork. When it comes to digital assets, teams face unique obstacles, such as knowing where assets are stored, keeping track of asset use, and maintenance of correct brand and asset-use guidelines. You can’t just walk down the hall to collaborate on image or video changes required for a campaign that’s going live tomorrow. This makes it more important than ever to efficiently re-use existing content and streamline digital collaboration across the content chain from creation to delivery. As digital consumption increases, so too does the need for rapid content creation that keeps pace with the online-centric world.

To address this, companies are turning away from traditional managed service DAM providers in favor of cloud service solutions that allow for cross-collaboration and asset manipulation in real time regardless of location. Cloud-based DAM solutions act as a single source of truth for digital content. They can supercharge content re-use at a time when creating net new assets is more difficult. A cloud-based DAM can also help scale the re-use of existing content by using dynamic media services to automate the generation of content variations and drive team efficiency and scalability across image and video asset creation using automated workflows.

By moving to a cloud-based DAM solution, Under Armour now saves four hours of time per user through easier asset sharing across 1,000 users company-wide. That’s 4,000 additional hours that can now be dedicated to greater personalization and targeting efforts, rather than basic asset library manipulation and cataloguing. Under Armour’s Ben Snyder, who is IT product owner at the organization, discussed the benefits offered by a cloud-based solution at Adobe’s recent Virtual Summit. You can watch the recording of his presentation here.

Architect for agility

As the world navigates the effects of COVID-19, rapid change is inevitable. Brands need to be ready to iterate and launch experiences much faster. This means going from imagination to go-live, or launching new omnichannel campaigns in the shortest time possible. It’s important that brands are architecting to ensure that a small and fast deployment can scale flexibly without having to re-architect as demands and needs grow.

Each of these three pillars mentioned — employee experiences, commerce, and architecting for agility — represent tangible, practical, and immediate areas to drive value for customers, employees, and businesses in today’s world.

Through investment in infrastructure, brands can position themselves to navigate the rocky waters of today in order to enter a “safe harbor” post-pandemic. And, if another storm approaches, they will be anchored securely, able to withstand the winds of change no matter how strong they might be.

Business Continuity Playbook

COVID-19 is upending the way we live and work. In this playbook, we share lessons we’ve learned — from our own experience and from our customers.

Learn more

Topics: Digital Transformation, Content Management, Productivity, COVID-19, Commerce, Customer Stories

Products: Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Sign, Adobe Document Cloud