Riding the wave of digital transformation 2.0
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Riding the wave of digital transformation 2.0

Riding the wave of digital transformation 2.0

As we embark upon a new month of working in full-remote or hybrid environments, many organisations are realising that the workplace will likely never look the same again

Sam Tayan_Head of MENA at Zoom

Digital transformation has integrated digital tools into all aspects of work, making us challenge our status quo and adopt new habits. As we embark upon a new month of working in full-remote or hybrid environments, many organisations are realising that the workplace will likely never look the same again. Back in March 2020, organisations adapted their processes to move to remote work environments almost at a moment’s notice. Many of those solutions have become permanent fixtures, paving the path to a new way of communicating and collaborating, as well as ushering in a focus on digital transformation centered on the virtual experience.

The emergence of digital transformation 2.0

The Middle East and the UAE have been paving the way for digital transformation for years, and since the onset of the pandemic, the efforts towards a digitally transformed and smart region have been accelerating at a noticeable rate. Locally, the UAE has been working towards the UAE Vision 2021, with the goal to develop a knowledge and technology-based economy promoting innovation. When digital transformation first started gaining attention in corporate boardrooms, organisations analysed their processes and separated activities that could be automated from those that needed to be performed by a person. Then digital models were created to automate these functions. This provided clients and businesses with a win-win status quo — businesses could improve efficiency and clients could receive the benefits of convenience and immediate satisfaction. Digital models that seamlessly integrated human and automated interactions became the norm. This is what we call digital transformation 1.0.

The pandemic has brought a new meaning to what can be best referred to as: the virtual process. Now organisations are analysing their human interactions and separating activities into two categories — what needs to be done face-to-face and what can be done virtually. Known as digital transformation 2.0, what began as short-term responses to pandemic lockdowns are likely to turn into long-term solutions with benefits for businesses and their customers. The UAE Government has put this digitalisation at the forefront of the post Covid-19 recovery plan, using digitalisation to harness the power of technology to recover and innovate.

Digital transformation 2.0 in action

A good example can be found in the healthcare field, where traditionally it was as “in-person” as it could get. However, the pandemic became a catalyst for widespread telehealth adoption, introducing the virtual component into doctor-patient interactions. Today, a doctor may have an initial virtual visit with a patient, then schedule blood work, x-rays, or other tests at testing facilities if needed. The patient can access their test results on an online portal and the doctor can schedule a virtual follow-up visit to communicate results and next steps. The doctor’s office can send prescriptions to the pharmacy electronically, or the patient can order them through the online portal and have them delivered by mail.

The process of delivering and receiving care virtually feels integrated, as information is readily available in real-time and the interactions are effective and orderly. Patients no longer have to drive, park, and sit in a waiting room, and doctors can leverage their valuable time more efficiently. According to research, a majority of healthcare organisations in the UAE plan to invest further in digital technology and data solutions after seeing their value during the Covid-19 pandemic. The GCC region has also been prioritising innovations in healthcare technology with experts predicting that investments in regional healthcare infrastructure are expected to reach $89bn by 2022.

There are many other fields where similar transformations are occurring. Court systems are operating virtually, and the legal community is discovering that most of their work can be done virtually. Virtual education continues to grow in popularity and acceptance, widening access to new opportunities in learning and sharing knowledge. In the UAE, schools have been switching between the three learning modes: physical, distant, and blended seamlessly. Globally, school managements are expanding their planning for how they will continue to support hybrid classroom environments post-pandemic, too. Moreover, the Abu Dhabi government performed more than 1,000 government services via digital platforms and conducted more than eight million completed transactions last year. Driven by shifting the consumer expectations, the UAE Government is working to facilitate the adoption of technology for businesses and organisations. With one of the fastest technology-adoption rates globally, the country is certainly going in the right direction!

What digital transformation leaders should keep in mind going into the future

What does it take to build innovative, sustainable, and lasting organisations? Talent, trust, and transformation. These are the most essential needs for moving forward with confidence. Digital transformation 2.0 has taken off and will continue to grow. Standing still — or moving backwards to restore the way things were pre-pandemic — simply won’t cut it when employees, consumers, and businesses have already experienced the benefits of this new world of working and communicating.

Organisations will continue to modernise their operations with the integration of digital, in-person, and virtual services. Companies that invest in digital transformation 2.0 will attract top talent with flexible work arrangements and grow customer loyalty by providing a seamless, convenient experience.

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