The spread of COVID-19 and its effects on the economy have had a notable impact on businesses across South Africa. Many have had to close their doors, as was the case earlier this year with Associated Media Publishing, the respected independent publishing company responsible for popular magazines such as House and Leisure. The company’s closure is an example of just how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic has been on the business world, both nationally and globally.
Writing for Business Tech, Johann Digue suggests that in the current economic climate, “institutions without the proper digital infrastructure to support…uncertain customers will fall short, and fast”. He also notes that “in the face of the crisis, businesses may look to delay investment in digital transformation when in fact this is the time that they need it most to survive.”
Of course, digital transformation is an ongoing topic in today’s world, what with the prevalence of connectivity solutions, the advent of 5G, and the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) in so many sectors. The fact that numerous people have swiftly and easily managed to switch to remote work due to the outbreak of COVID-19 proves just how used to having digital technology at our disposal we all are. We can access business information and connect seamlessly with our colleagues through a variety of platforms without even leaving our homes.
It’s safe to say that, today, digital is the norm. It’s also highly possible that digital technologies will assist the business world in moving forward when the economic and social instability caused by COVID-19 passes. In fact it is imperative that businesses invest in these technologies given the threat of cyber attacks.
Digue notes that “amidst the uncertainty there is a rise in cyber fraud with reports of phishing attacks taking advantage of already vulnerable people.” Cyber attacks are indeed a threat all companies face, so the adoption of robust and advanced cybersecurity tools is a move they should all take. Company security is of course vital in any situation, but perhaps even more so when the company is trying to operate in a climate of social and economic upheaval.
But it’s not just cybersecurity that companies need to focus on. As they adjust to a new world during and after COVID-19 they’ll need to keep a sharp eye on their online presence to maintain awareness of their products and services. In addition, companies must ensure that their workforces are equipped with necessary digital skills and include employees specifically trained for digital services. Digue mentions analysts and software developers as examples, as well as “call centre staff who can harness smart AI to make their jobs much easier.”
Companies need to focus on the thorough improvement of their digital infrastructure post COVID-19. Their digital transformation should involve knuckling down on cybersecurity, revitalising their online presence and peopling their workforces with digital experts. It’s most likely going to be a while until the world is given some respite from the effects of COVID-19, but businesses can at least begin preparing themselves.