COVID-19: From Digital Transformation to Digital Revolution

Published: 09 Sep 2020

For the first time in history, enterprise organizations are proving it’s possible to go digital in a matter of weeks instead of years. What changed? The answer is us.

When the US economy collapsed in 2008, most businesses responded by going digital. Simply, automation meant cost savings. From 2008-2013, Fortune 100 retail companies partnered with Avenue Code to pioneer e-commerce solutions that served as the model for global digital transformation.

From 2014-2017, Europe and Latin America caught on by going digital, starting with e-commerce, while in the US, FinTech and others were beginning to follow suit. From 2018-2019, late adopters like automotive, manufacturing, and even waste management industries began their own versions of digital transformations, automating processes to stay competitive.

Thanks to technological improvements and better leadership buy-in, digital transformations that used to take enterprise organizations 2-5 years in 2008 took only 1-2 years in 2019.

Then came 2020, and overnight, the world found itself sheltered at home. Digital trends that added business value in the past became indispensable to market viability. Remote work became mandatory. Online customer service became imperative. Cloud became crucial.

In retail, online sales went up 76% year over year (Digital Commerce 360). In education, over 1.5 billion students were affected (UNESCO), resulting in a global shift toward e-learning, with some learning providers deploying over 100,000 cloud servers in just 2 hours (World Economic Forum). In the health sector, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services saw 10.1 million beneficiaries receiving telehealth services from mid-March through early July ( In short, companies were faced with a challenge - go digital or die.

And the world passed the test. Now teams are going digital in 4-8 weeks and working from home, not only with comparable efficiency, but with improved efficiency.

Digital transformation used to start with technology departments and slowly permeate to the entire business. Now business units are the ones demanding the digital reforms. We used to begin with low-hanging fruit like iterative processes and MVPs, and slowly build our way up stream. Now we are digitizing the entire value stream all at once. We used to have one team adapt at a time. Now entire organizations are competing for fast adaptation. We went from convincing finance that digital was a worthwhile investment to finance driving digital transformation.

What changed that made accelerated digital transformation possible? The answer is us. COVID-19 has forced us to be open to change because change gives us a way forward. We know now that digital transformation is the answer, and we demand to go digital fast because we know it’s possible.

About the Author:

Zeo Solomon is the Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Avenue Code.

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