The challenges of digital transformation in 2021 are new, exciting, and come with a few obstacles. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital evolution across every industry. 

Download the white paper from IDC and Salesforce to learn:

  • How business leaders are shifting transformation roadmaps in the aftermath of COVID-19

  • New imperatives for customer and employee experiences

  • Stories of resilience and transformation from companies across industries

The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the challenges of digital transformation in 2020. Let’s have a look at where we stand now.

 

The impact of COVID-19 on digital transformation in 2021

The digital imperative isn’t even new, as many companies were planning to digitalise aspects of their business well before COVID-19 hit. Digital transformation is no longer an avenue towards gaining a competitive advantage, but an essential process for keeping up with the modern world.

What is new, however, is the acceleration of this imperative. After global lockdown measures were implemented, the world was suddenly awash in new digital adopters. For instance:

  • Workforces went remote

  • Traditional brick-and-mortar shoppers headed towards e-commerce portals

  • Businesses started offering their customers new VR and AR experiences.

Digitised businesses were well positioned to turn the challenges of the new normal into opportunities. However, those that hadn’t were left holding their bags by the side of the information superhighway. 

 

The importance of addressing digital transformation challenges

The pandemic underscored the importance of digital transformation, as businesses had to:

  • Support remote working and customer service

  • Navigate supply-chain disruptions

  • Adapt to changing government regulations and more

Many businesses were forced to offer new experiences on new platforms, which wound up transforming their business in unexpected ways. 

Maggie Palmer, founder and CEO of PepTalkHer, says, “Because of COVID-19, we got new work because we had to suddenly create a virtual offering, which allowed us to create a retainer model. We began to get business we had never seen before. The virus forced our hand.” 

Tobi Skovron of CreativeCubes.Co has also found utility in crisis. “COVID-19 brought forward the opportunity (of offering flex work solutions), maybe five to ten years,” Skovron states. 

And for Laurence Girard of Fruit Street Health, the crisis was the impetus for exploring new frontiers. 

We were not focused on physician-driven telemedicine. But then COVID-19 came along, we developed a new product, and telemedicine is suddenly critical.”

Laurence Girard
Many other business leaders echo these thoughts. It’s clear that overcoming a crisis with digital transformation is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its potential benefits. The COVID-19 pandemic not only highlighted the importance of digitalisation, though, it also highlighted some key challenges.
 

Source: IDC's Survey on COVID-19 Impact on DX, June 2020


So, what is the biggest challenge when driving a digital transformation? Let’s have a quick look at some of the challenges of digital transformation in 2021, and how companies might solve them.

 

Three ways to tackle the challenges of digital transformation in 2021

1. Obtain executive buy-in

By increasing revenue and productivity, technology has long been proven to drive value. Yet, cost is the biggest challenge when driving a digital transformation, especially in uncertain times. 

Getting the CEO on board and having them work closely with the CIO and CTO can help a company reach its digital goals.
 

2. Reskill and upskill the workforce

Getting the workforce to embrace new tech and processes was named as a top challenge in IDC’s survey. So upskilling and reskilling the workforce is very important. 

IT workers look to be in an especially vulnerable position, as a McKinsey study shows that only 42 out of 100 IT employees will be fundamentally retrained. Reskilling these workers would provide businesses with a head start on their journey towards digital transformation, and at a lower cost than hiring new ones.   
 

3. Tackle cyber security head on

In a 2019 Marsh & McLennan survey of 1,500 executives, 79% of them ranked cyber security as a top-five concern for their company. With so many decision-makers being wary of potential threats, it’s easy to forget that we’re moving towards a world where: 

  • digital platforms are central

  • agility is the top prize

  • customers expect an omnichannel experience as standard

Cyber security should definitely be a priority – but it shouldn’t be a roadblock.

 

Salesforce offers digital transformation solutions you can trust

The Salesforce Platform has security built into every layer, utilising encryption in transit and advanced threat detection. And Salesforce Shield offers an additional layer of security with:

  • Platform Encryption

  • Event Monitoring

  • Field Audit Trail

So if cyber security is a concern, then choose digital platforms that put security at the forefront. 

With so much at stake, businesses need to figure out how to solve the challenges of digital transformation right now. The journey towards a more connected and agile future has already begun. 
 

To read more about how businesses are using digital transformation to succeed in the current climate, read the IDC white paper, The Impact of Digital Transformation in Times of Change.