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How the Pandemic Drove Digital Into Overdrive

Brent Endaya

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Pandemic Digital Transformation

2 years ago, I wrote an article that basically confirms that certain aspects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are the turning point of most industries to digital. Here’s an excerpt from that article.

“Adaptability and hunger for learning will make individuals, companies, and countries not obsolete in the coming digital age. It’s basically thinking like AI.

The question now is not if, but when. And the answer is sooner than you think. It’s important to always be future-proofed as the future may be just a day away.”

I was almost tempted to claim that this was “prophetic” or “I can see the future” but it really isn’t. It’s the natural progression. It’s the logical next step. And I was just explaining my observation.

But back then, I thought that the Digital Transformation itself was the disruptor. Turns out, it just needed a catalyst: COVID-19.

Going Viral

The term “viral” was used to cleverly describe content that behaved like viruses.

Viruses have certain characteristics of how they spread and there are almost no variations from these characteristics:

  • Fast to spread and seemingly unstoppable.
  • Comes out of nowhere suddenly.
  • Will always require a strong reaction, whether negative or positive.

The last characteristic was the one that pushed the world into needing digital. We HAD to have a reaction. And unfortunately, it’s the “adapt or die” mindset, literally. When the virus happened, the need for digital solutions also “went viral.”

Brought Together By Distance
The need for digital technology went viral because we needed to get away from each other, physically, to further prevent the transmission of the virus. And the only way we could continue with everything was to have a space for us to still interact while safely in seclusion.

And the digital space was perfect for that. It’s a virtual world after all and most things we do anyway are already online.

However, the world was severely unprepared. Having certain aspects done online is one thing. Doing all of your processes –for businesses and individuals alike– online is a different thing. It’s like learning another language. But we have to do it.

Proactive vs Reactive

Before, it was a matter of preference to be online. It was a choice businesses can take whenever they choose to and just set aside for other projects. But now, it has become a matter of survival.

It really shows that you can wait to be proactive for so long, until you have no choice but to be reactive. And reactionary measures are the least optimal measures that you can have.

But now that we are in this “new normal.” Let’s analyze how and why it took a pandemic to force digital transformation.

There is always the saying among entrepreneurs that you shouldn’t rely on virality for your success. But the reason is not because it’s unpredictable and unrepeatable.

Virality brings you to the eyes of millions of people very fast, and at that point any mistake you do is amplified. It’s like having your muscles grow faster before your bones could keep up. You have to have a plan and you have to intensely prepare for it.

If businesses and people that work were prepared to migrate online or are already online, It will be easiER. I say easier, because no one really got it easy. It’s difficult for everyone, especially for businesses that physically can’t outsource to digital.

Recently, Philippine Airlines filed for bankruptcy due to massive losses in travelers and it’s a billion peso company. So much more businesses are affected and forced to close their doors because they can’t migrate digitally. And those that were forced to migrate became “digital refugees” instead of just digital immigrants. Forced to uproot and adapt a new culture because of a disaster.

But speaking of disasters, it really tests your whole system and forces you to think on your feet and be open to change.

The company I work for, USource Digital, unfortunately experienced disaster (the eruption of Taal Volcano) before the pandemic forcing us to Work from Home (WFH). Yet, it was blessing in disguise because we already had a trial run of working from home. Then the pandemic hit, so it further cemented that this is our “new normal.” Working from home is now our core process.

And that’s not only the silver lining. So many other businesses took advantage of the pandemic and bolstered their digital presence such as delivery services, online banking, Ecommerce, and so much more.

The pandemic is the true disruptor. Giving boons to those who adapt and busting those who can’t.

Hindsight is 20-20 and it was only last year. (Pun intended). Thank god it’s almost over. The year and the pandemic.

Embrace Digital

The lessons are two-fold: We should always try to learn new and upcoming technologies and the future has always been digital.

It’s imperative for businesses, individuals, and even governments to be in sync with technology. It’s the way of the future.

Massive disruptions like this are not going to stop from happening. It really tests how the world works and exposes the kinks in our system. And this is just the start of a revolution. And we better arm ourselves with digital literacy or we will be obsolete.

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