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Delivering digital-first experiences during the pandemic

When the coronavirus pandemic first swept the globe, organizations feverishly embraced digital channels to address changing customer needs. To ensure organizational survival – businesses, colleges, universities, and governments shifted vital information and services to digital channels.

The transformational power of technology came to the fore as mission-critical, not only as a support function. (McKinsey, 2020). As IT leaders continue to deliver value, this article explores key considerations when delivering digital-first experiences.

Cassandra Theocharous

Written by

Cassandra Theocharous
Marketing Manager
26 November 2020

Acceleration of digital activity 

The global coronavirus pandemic caused an acceleration of digital activity across sectors, offering us a glimpse into the future. During the pandemic, 76% of CIOs report increased demand for new digital products or services (Gartner, 2020). In the United States, the adoption of e-commerce, previously forecast to reach 24 percent by 2024, jumped from 17 percent to 33 percent in just two months (McKinsey, 2020).

The twin-forces of higher expectations of digital experiences and an uncertain economic outlook have increased IT leaders' pressure. It has never been more critical that technology investments demonstrate value.

Striking the right balance 

Managing shrinking budgets while meeting ambitious goals is business as usual for CIO's. The pandemic only heightened pressures on technology leaders, forcing many to reprioritize investments.

In the early stages of the pandemic, almost 60% of IT decision-makers halted investments in new vendor technologies, 54% delayed upgrading existing hardware, and 44% delayed feature add-ons or upgrades to existing software (BCG, 2020). Instead, priority investments focused on directly improving digital experiences.

According to Gartner, "Top-performing organizations have gone all-in, developing the capabilities to use digital to create deeper relationships with customers, and it's paying off. Leaders across the organization are making higher-value, more strategic IT requests, and expect this trend to continue in 2021." Organizations that increase digital channels use are 3.5 times more likely to succeed than trailing performers (Gartner, 2020).

As with all IT projects, the stakes are high. 84% of digital experience programs fail (Couchbase, 2020), and executives that can't link digital initiatives to revenue and expenses will fall victim to reduced budgets and may risk their careers (Forrester, 2020).

In the 'never normal' technology, leaders have far less tolerance for risk. Since the pandemic, 47% are either 'concerned' or 'very concerned' about signing contracts with new vendors (BCG, 2020). Given the importance of digital technology during the pandemic, what do IT leaders need to consider when making investments?

Realizing value from investments in digital 

To create fast, flexible, and future-proof digital experiences, four key factors need to be considered:

  1. Optimization of existing technology investments. Open digital experience platforms remove the guesswork and cost risk from long-term tech investments, enabling IT teams to have flexibility in an environment where requirements can change, literally – overnight.
  2. Utilizing templates and design systems. Custom-built websites cost organizations anywhere from several thousand dollars to $1 million. A digital experience platform built on template-based websites can be spun-up within hours, at a minimal cost. Excellent news for IT teams looking to rapidly create new sites and services with minimal cost and resources.
  3. Realization of Cloud cost-efficiencies. When responding to peaks and troughs in customer demand, cloud-based infrastructure helps organizations realize real cost benefits. Cloud technologies make it easier, faster, and more efficient to manage and deliver digital experiences.
  4. Selecting a leading digital experience platform that delivers value. Leading organizations harness cost-effective digital experience platforms that create online experiences equal to, or even better than, in-person experiences.

Conclusions 

During the pandemic, when the world turned to digital, IT departments enabled organizations to respond to customer demands and kept essential online services up and running. As a result, the role of technology and the teams that support it are receiving the recognition they deserve. As IT leaders take on even more responsibility for delivering mission-critical services, the question remains – how can you prepare when you don't know what's coming next?

Our e-book, Calculating the Cost of Customer Experience, sheds light on how to keep pace with ever-increasing digital demands during this time of unprecedented volatility.

Drawing on more than 20 years' experience, Squiz's helps organizations attract, engage, and retain customers. Our open digital experience platform integrates with existing systems to create operational efficiencies.

Cassandra Theocharous

Written by

Cassandra Theocharous
Marketing Manager
26 November 2020

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