Thursday, September 17, 2020

2020: The Year Digital Transformation Skyrocketed

In many ways, COVID-19 has slowed everything down. Back in March, projects were put on hold, events were postponed (and ultimately canceled), and supply chains disrupted. Despite this phenomenon where time has seemingly been put on pause, there are some things whose timelines have been expedited.

Take meetings for example. The thought of a two-hour Zoom meeting makes me nauseous, even though attending a meeting with the same timespan in 2019 would have just been another Tuesday. Now, people have stopped beating around the bush in meetings. Zoom fatigue is a real thing, no matter how comical it sounds.

Digital transformation has also skyrocketed this year. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re at the grocery store, observe how many people are using contactless payments. In a recent survey, 50 percent of respondents said they started using a form of technology they had previously resisted. Let’s take a look at how much digital transformation happened in the last five months.

Drugstores Enter the 21st Century 

Back in November 2019 (when we were blissfully unaware our world would be rocked in five months) CVS announced they were planning on closing around 75 stores nationwide due to a decrease in retail operating income. Fast-forward to 2020 and consumers are visiting drugstores two to three times a week in a feeble attempt to purchase hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Additionally, store traffic increased as consumers frantically refill prescriptions. Pharmacists struggled to keep up with demand and needed a lifeline. CVS announced they would start rolling out their new initiative, Spoken Rx, by the end of 2021. Using Near-field Communication (NFC), consumers will simply tap their phones to their prescription bottles to hear directions on how to take the script.

Retail Mobile Banking Speaks Up

I hinted at this before, but contactless payments have finally seen the adoption this technology deserves. When retail stores reopened in May, they were diligent about sanitizing the pin-pad after every use – I’ve witnessed this slowly teetering off as we head into September. For that reason, I’m going to stick to using my mobile wallet (and the fact there is currently a coin shortage). I’m not the only one who ditched their physical wallet for a virtual one – mobile banking has been completely transformed due to pandemic. In April, mobile banking traffic increased by 85 percent. Even the younger generations are on board. 44 percent of consumers ages 18 to 33 have enrolled in mobile banking for the first time since the start of COVID-19.

U.S. Bank has taken a note from CVS and added voice technology to their mobile marketing initiatives for the year. The in-app voice assistant will be able to provide users with transfers, spend history, keeping track of upcoming bills, and so much more.

Investing in Digital

Back in April, many of us believed the ‘great lockdown’ would only last until fall. Well, we’re in September now and I think we can all agree we will be home-bound for much longer than we originally thought. With this realization comes another: digital is worth the investment.

We’ve learned two things about consumer behavior this year. First, consumer loyalty is strong – ⅔ of consumers are willing to spend more on a product or service if they are loyal to that brand. Second, consumers want to meet your brand on mobile. And if your brand can’t measure up these trending consumer behaviors, then you face the same fate as the Blockbusters or Kodak’s of the world – a distant memory (and maybe a random tweet here and there).

50 percent of surveyed marketers stated their previous investments in marketing innovation helped them prepare for the pandemic. The other half who did not previously invest in digital tools (like low code platforms) admitted they were less agile than their competitors.

In five months, we’ve seen more digital transformation then we would have seen in five years under normal circumstances. Don’t get left in the dust. It’s time to take on a new digital project.