Companies that reimagine processes with technology and Artificial Intelligence at the core appear likely to win the post-pandemic future, writes Sarita Ravindranath

The COVID-19 crisis has made every business a digital enterprise.

As many aspects of life and work slowed down in 2020, the use of technology accelerated at a breakneck pace. Lockdowns across the world forced companies to adapt to fluctuating scenarios with the smart use of technology.

High-speed reliable Internet, artificial intelligence, big data, cloud-based apps, communication and collaboration tools, automation, and Machine Learning helped companies develop scalable architecture to support business continuity.

The bottlenecks that kept companies from digital transformation in the past were challenged. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella put it at the beginning of the crisis: “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” A study  conducted by Twilio later found that COVID-19 accelerated companies’ digital strategies by an average of six years.

Overnight Transition

In the past too, the history of work has seen rapid changes. The rise of personal computers and the Internet in the 1980s and 1990s decimated the old ways of doing things.

But this is perhaps the first time that companies can collect and evaluate real-time customer and employee data.

The pandemic led to an overnight transition to forced virtualization. Workforces moved home, and cloud computing helped companies continue with day-to-day operations. Retails launched digital storefronts, and banks moved all their interactions with customers online.

AI, virtual healthcare management, and telemedicine proved critical in tackling COVID-19. Nations like Taiwan embraced big data analytics to enable citizens to stay safe and fight the pandemic.

Customers sought richer experiences, and everything from digital content to clothes now come tailored with recommendations based on individual taste.

A business environment that is changing so dramatically requires a reimagining of traditional processes. Data, analytics, AI, Machine Learning, and other technologies offer organizations efficient new ways to create connected operations, keep assets running, and reinvent processes to control costs, and increase sales and quality.

Here is a look at how the new wave of digital transformation can transform some business processes on the floor to change the way we look at customer experience and create significant value.

Sales & Marketing

A 2021 Capgemini report notes that 89 per cent of salespersons consider themselves significantly ahead of their peers in terms of adopting technology that benefits customers or their businesses. The sales process has changed enormously over the years: In 2020, the automotive industry’s friendly car salesman gave way to a touchless, car-buying experience.

Sales and Marketing teams have a comprehensive understanding of a company’s strengths and weaknesses, and a customer’s typical journey. Aligning these two functional teams keeps marketing messages consistent and creates a single brand customer experience.

Collaborative tools, a centralized repository, and intelligent content management systems can help sellers and marketers significantly increase their effectiveness. Predictive analysis can help the teams get the most value out of marketing content and messages. An AI-powered engine can send the right content or email to the right customer, ensuring that marketing content is aligned to different stages of the buyer journey.

Dynamic Pricing Tools automatically gather data on competitors and offer flexible prices based on competitors’ pricing strategy and the customer’s perception.

Over 3.6 billion people use social media today across the globe. Social media listening tools give marketers access to these conversations and use insights to target customers with the right products and steer the narrative to the brand’s advantage.

AI and Machine Learning Tools measure what prospects and customers need. Technology tools allow sellers and marketers to better track customer journeys, see patterns, forecast sales, and make predictions that help identify activities that lead to conversions.

Customer Experience

Digital transformation allows companies to understand the customer better.

Analyzing large amounts of data so that the organization can act on it quickly to improve customer experience is a key part of the transformation journey. As the amount of data and the number of connected devices continue to grow, enterprises need new sources of data to understand customers better, new cloud-based technologies to accelerate delivery, and new operating capabilities.

Customer Intelligence tools collect and analyze customer interaction data to gain insights about customer behavior and improve personalization. The use of technologies such as feedback management, social media monitoring, and Natural Language Processing (NLP) segments customers by their journey. Workflow automation and customization options allow you to personalize experiences for every user.

Personalized service, product recommendations, and tailored self-service portals have become the norm. Pandora, a global jewelry brand, launched a virtual try-on, where customers could see how their jewelry looked before a purchase. Their stores provided virtual queuing so customers didn’t have to wait outside stores. They could scan a QR code to receive a timed slot. A video chat enabled customers to receive advice from staff.

Sales chatbots and AI algorithms that create customized emails help sales reps outreach prospects without numerous cold calls or emails. Technology helps enterprises improve marketing ROI and make data-driven decisions.

Risk Management

The pandemic has forced companies to relook traditional risk-management strategies. The impact of the prolonged uncertainty and shutdowns is hard to gauge. AI has been able to provide ready access to risk and performance data, and scenario planning along with insights and recommendations.

When a leading health technology company found itself in a bind after production plants closed in China during the COVID-19 crisis, AI and Analytics firm BRIDGEi2i stepped in. The health tech company anticipated component shortages and wanted to identify risks that would hinder the supply of finished goods.

To estimate days of inventory in the system, BRIDGEi2i integrated data sources such as available inventory, incoming PO details, sales plans, Bill of Materials data, historical consumption of the material, and quantities.

A cursory look at any country’s top 20 companies (by market cap) over the decades shows how some organizations were able to transform and survive, while others fell by the wayside. COVID-19 has been a call to action to accelerate transformation efforts. Getting more proactive with data analytics tools, automating processes, and creating a team dedicated to improving customer experience, can help you get there. Companies that reimagine processes with technology and Artificial Intelligence at the core appear likely to win the post-pandemic future.

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Sarita was Chief Editor of Now, a freelance writer and editor, she can be found at

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