This guest blog is from our partners at Onfido, a leading provider of remote identity verification.

The Covid pandemic has forced many businesses to adapt in order to survive. We look at some of the ways businesses have changed, which of these changes could be here to stay and what this means for a post-Covid world.

A McKinsey report argues that “Now is the time to reassess digital initiatives”. The current pandemic is forcing the hand of many to adapt to survive. Never has the phrase, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ been more relatable.

Over the last few months, the way we interact with services has changed. Many of us are now fully ‘remote’—not only are we working from home, but also learning, shopping, exercising, and other day to day activities.

We’ve all had to adjust. But for companies in particular, it’s raising questions about how to maintain business continuity. Unable to conduct business as normal, many have turned to alternative solutions and business models. Restaurants have started providing food deliveries, gyms are offering virtual classes and even hairdressers are offering tutorials online to help people cut their own hair.

These alternative solutions will likely require some form of digital innovation or optimization. In some cases, it’s fast-forwarding digitization processes that businesses were already exploring, and in others, it’s bringing to light new ones which hadn’t been considered.

Is now the time to act?

It’s undeniable that the current climate has caused a great deal of change. Not only have businesses had to adapt, but many problems companies were already facing have likely been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic. For example:

  • Data security: Is your business experiencing increased breaches, or the threat of breaches, as you’ve moved to remote working and data sharing?
  • Usability: Converting users via a digital flow is more important now than it has ever been. Customers and users currently have few options other than accessing your products and services through digital offerings. How well do they function?

Digital transformation is not something your business should undertake lightly. But it’s one option that might help to address challenges highlighted by the Covid pandemic. And to maintain some form of normality for both your business and your customers.

How your company adapts during this time is highly likely to influence how it performs in the future. Further McKinsey research shows that bold moves to adopt digital technologies early and at scale, aligns closely with value creation.

Could the right steps taken towards digitization now, help businesses not only survive the current pandemic, but emerge stronger? It’s possible that new processes would not only impact how we serve customers now, but also improve the way we serve them in the future.

What changes are we seeing, and which ones are here to stay?

Strengthened digital infrastructure

We’ve all seen first hand some of the steps that have helped us work, learn, exercise and just generally live our lives from home. Schools and universities have taken their classes online; most companies have advised employees to work from home where possible; and there have never been so many online workouts to choose from. In the UK, contactless payments are now encouraged where possible. Limits on contactless payments have increased from £30 to £45.

But are these trends likely to continue? For example, will fewer people travel for work when things start to return to normal? Will we see an increase in online learning? And will companies’ working from home policies have improved for the better now that they have the infrastructure in place?

Better use of technology and AI

Several companies have reinvented their offerings, or are offering services beyond what they would normally. Products like Zoom, Google Meet and Slack which enable remote working, have seen huge demand. Slack has offered free webinars with live Q&As and consultations by phone to help support new users. And Google have made their video conferencing tool, Google Meet, free for anyone with a Google account. Here at Onfido, we’re offering our document and selfie service at no cost for the next six months. It’s available to non-profits and charity organizations working directly on providing relief from the COVID-19 outbreak.

The pandemic has also turned attention to how technology such as AI and machine learning can help businesses. Some of the business functions that AI can help include sales prioritisation, back office tasks and document and identity verification. You can find out more about the different ways AI can help your business here.

Rise of telehealthcare

The Covid-19 pandemic has raised many challenges for healthcare companies in particular. What do you do when face to face doctor’s appointments are no longer an option? How do you ensure that prescriptions get to the right people when you’re relying on digital alternatives?

Telehealthcare involves the use of digital platforms and technology to deliver health-related services. Some providers such as Babylon in the UK and Doctor on Demand in the US have already experimented with telehealthcare before the pandemic. But it’s likely we’ll see more traditional healthcare providers branch into this space in the future, as well as new solutions entering the market.

Find out how Onfido’s solution can help healthcare companies digitize 

More online shopping

It may seem like an obvious one, but with most shops closed, online shopping is proving key to survival. The current climate has shown that some online presence at the very least is vital for survival. For companies who have already dabbled in online sales, they will likely want to ramp up this side of the business.

Businesses that already have a successful online presence, however, are also facing their own problems. Supermarkets in particular have struggled to keep up with surges in online orders. Others are also facing challenges with supply chains and shortages of stock.

Find out how Onfido’s solution can support eCommerce companies

What does this mean for a post-Covid world?

With many businesses turning to alternative digital solutions now more than ever before, will there be no going back once the Covid pandemic has passed?

If digital solutions are more convenient, offer a better user experience, and are more scalable for businesses, why would we then revert to time-consuming, inefficient manual or face to face processes? Are we seeing a glimpse into the future, where digital processes dramatically improve the way businesses function, and the way they serve customers?

We’re familiar with new tech start-ups, for example challenger banks, using digital processes to their advantage. But we may see more digital processes taken up by traditional services, such as mainstream banks, hotel check-ins, voting and car rentals.

One thing to keep in mind with digital transformation however, is that as it develops, we risk widening the gap between those who turn to digital options and those who don’t. Not only could this impact businesses, but we must also consider customers who might find it more difficult to use digital alternatives, for example older generations.

However, if done right, digital transformation could help secure the future of many companies. The pandemic has highlighted the fact that businesses around the world need to become more flexible and more digital. And that through doing so, it could ensure that they emerge from the Covid pandemic stronger than they were beforehand.

To find out how Onfido’s digital identity solution can help your business with digital transformation, take a look at our whitepaper — A guide to digital identity verification: the technology and trends.