Guest blog: Digital transformation or digital divide

Guest Blog | Wed 29 Jul | Author – Business & Finance

Lisa-Nicole Dunne is founder of Mantra Strategy. In this guest blog, she discusses the advantages and difficulties of digital transformation.

Global lockdown has seriously impacted business, including the acceleration of digital adoption. For sectors disproportionately affected by Covid including aviation, events, and hospitality, no AI, robotic cleaners, ramped-up analytics or other digital initiatives will significantly change that. New models to deliver products and services, engage stakeholders, and generate income in a very different environment are being deployed with varied success. For some, this has been a great leveler, extending reach, opening up markets, enabling efficiency, but in some cases, an alternative model didn’t work during lockdown, whether for access reasons, or simply due to a mismatch with the business. Mantra Strategy explores some of the different approaches and implications.

Lisa-Nicole Dunne, Founder, Mantra Strategy

Enabling software such as Menuu.com offers expedited ordering capabilities to restaurants to move online in droves, but with consideration to how meals traveled, and changing customer expectations of price and quality, others look forward to resuming traditional hospitality. In retail, those who don’t engage excellent ecommerce, remarketing and online service functionality risk being left behind. Two million is now available in funding offering many possibilities. In Italy, online shopping has increased by 80% according to Chiara Bertolli, Gdoweek. Micro-fulfillment technology is also increasing in importance as a means to compete profitably, leveraging existing networks. At Mantra, we expect to see an increase in strategic partnerships to maximise the potential for speedy delivery of online orders with last mile delivery or partner store pick-ups to meet with changing expectations.

Third-level educators quickly adopted digital for recruitment with webinars replacing open days and digital delivery of programmes and assessment speedily implemented. Virtual walkthroughs not only show you are open for business, they offer more inclusive access to prospective students and companies can do likewise for new hires and inductions. As providers prepare for a hybrid of digital and traditional programmes, student price and quality expectations may differ. Like many industries, it will not suffice to simply offer live classes; new approaches to managing student welfare, engagement, and innovation are also required.

Global lockdown has seriously impacted business, including the acceleration of digital adoption. For sectors disproportionately affected by Covid including aviation, events, and hospitality, no AI, robotic cleaners, ramped-up analytics or other digital initiatives will significantly change that.

Common Purpose Ireland utilised digital to add a multidimensional element to its experiential leadership programmes, engaging international chapters so leaders can explore concepts with peers in New York and London. They have used drones, 3D modelling, behind the scenes videos, breakout rooms, and online delivery platforms to replicate and immerse participants in live environments such as prisons and ports. Dara Connolly, CEO, believes the Life Long Learning App and online portal will remain stalwart features into the future.

Charities rely heavily on off-line fundraising as it remains much more effective for raising funds than online giving. This has been significantly affected by Covid with no chance of digital redressing this. Some of Mantra Strategy’s charity clients have adjusted their services. ChildVision are providing home visits to some children with multi-disability and vision impairment including equine therapy and digital communication for example via voice notes to young people who are isolated and significantly impacted by not being on campus. At ChildVision, a range of therapeutic, educational and employment preparation programmes are provided. Digital is not a substitute for a tailored personal service and the vital teams and students cannot wait to see the campus reopen fully. The same applies to many vital community and life-saving services across the country, eager to reboot, desperately missed.

Mantra is working with corporate clients to plan purpose, brand, people and culture strategies, leveraging digital to plan its CSR, employee engagement and well-being programmes, and fostering new digital leadership skills. Zoom meetings increased 30 times in four months, and new collaborative tools like Mural, Sidekick, and Workplace demonstrate the need to work differently and deliver connectivity in a new disconnected world. We all need to adapt and recognise what is essential for our individual businesses. Talkwalker report that more than 50% of businesses don’t have a digital marketing strategy, and Covid has demonstrated massive low digital readiness in companies.

Whether for survival or growth, digital initiatives to reach, communicate, engage, protect, and automate more are here to stay. Leaders who strategically harness digital to work more effectively, and purposefully, will help reboot Ireland with more impactful leadership and greater meaning.

Lisa-Nicole Dunne is founder of Mantra Strategy, a boutique management consultancy specialising in change programmes, purpose, and strategy development and leadership development. www.mantrastrategy.ie