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CIO Speak

2020 and its impact on digital transformation

The seismic shift because of the pandemic has forced businesses to rapidly pivot to digital channels, says Selina Bieber, Senior Regional Director for MENA, Turkey, and South Africa at GoDaddy.

The year 2020 has seen profound and far-reaching change throughout society and the global economy. It seems that every industry and sector has been upended in some way, creating a shift that has changed the trajectory of large, small, and emerging businesses.

The pace and extent of digital transformation in 2020 has experienced some of the most fervert change as compared to any other year. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen technological transition occur at a breakneck pace, whether that is pushing forward digital transformation for businesses, connectivity in the shape of 5G, advances in AI and AR, and greater use of digital automation to help enable business to run smoothly in times of crisis.

However, there is often a tendency to focus on broad or advanced digital change risks, while overlooking the emotional component of the global pandemic-enforced transformation. For me, the real story is that of the smaller businesses and entrepreneurs in the region and the need to help them empower themselves.

Earlier this year, in a matter of a few weeks, entrepreneurs and micro-businesses were forced to pivot their traditional business approach to factor in the online world. Breaking the traditional face to face, physical communications and in-person sales model, to quickly understand how to connect and engage online, not as a consumer, but as a business.

There is no doubt that a lot of people knew the value of digital and were planning to make the plunge one day soon, but it became a necessity almost overnight – and that was the real challenge.

This is where brands like GoDaddy can help play a crucial role. We take time to better understand the needs of small businesses  and seek ways of empowering them by giving them tools and solutions to help with their digital transformation. Our specialist teams aim to offer professional guidance, not just with using the tools but also through practical advice and accessible support, including extending marketing into digital channels and integrating with social media channels to broaden visibility for the business.

More consumers in the region have begun shopping online and in greater frequency. According to studies in the US, the global pandemic has accelerated the shift from physical stores to digital shopping by about five years.

This seismic shift has forced businesses to rapidly pivot to digital channels such as e-commerce to drive traffic, sell online and remain competitive.

Deciding on the right products to invest in to help ensure businesses meet current market demand and more importantly, keep pace with the evolution of e-commerce technology and new ways of doing business, can often slow down the process of digital transformation. Yet it need not do so.  A variety of online tools available today are designed to help set an online store, easily and more affordable.

The success stories of our customers during these unprecedented times are inspirational to others looking to start their own small business. Many start-ups that have transitioned to adding ecommerce online transactions, home delivery, and expanded digital marketing during this pandemic can help other with their own stories.

The transportation industry is one of the industries that were significantly impacted by the pandemic. Rabbit, an environment-friendly transportation provider in Cairo, is an example of one of our customers who has strategically navigated and thrived during this challenging time.

In March 2020, Rabbit had to cease their operations and scooter services entirely. Although loyal customers did not mind using the scooters, Kamal ElSoueni and his team were determined to face reality and come up with new plans to keep the business running. Now, to adapt to the current situation, Rabbit delivers scooters to their customers, and using the new strategy in April, May, and June of this year, the business revenue grew around 100% on a monthly rate. Rabbit is rapidly growing in the city and its visibility to more people continues to expand.

GoDaddy works to continually support small business owners and entrepreneurs grow their business online. An example of this is our ‘Open We Stand’ initiative. We’ve provided blog posts to help businesses stay open and engaged during the pandemic. They cover topics like communicating with customers, adapting to social distancing, and raising money. There’s also a bank of important external resources that businesses are finding helpful. We encourage people to join the #OpenWeStand community to learn what other businesses are doing to stay open and adapt to today’s challenging environment.

Looking ahead to the rest of the year and beyond, we think it’s vital that businesses reinforce their online brand identity and presence. In practical terms, this means honing your website, social channels, and other online properties. These elements are your virtual shopfront and it is essential to continually keep them updated and interesting to help your business grow. They need to be integrated, not just from a traffic flow point of view, but also in terms of their look and feel. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Online visibility is crucial as it can help the brand build a connection and trust with its customers. Differentiate yourself from the competition and convey a professional look and feel that will attract customers and help grow the business.
  • In terms of communication, maintain good online engagement to help ensure website visitors are aware of the quality of your products and services, by connecting with them on a regular basis.
  • Ultimately, you want to create a seamless and enjoyable customer experience online. In practical terms, this means ease of discovery, intuitive navigation for your website, simple online shopping (especially payment options and application of offers), and comprehensive post-purchase communication for those making online orders.

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