Digital resilience gained momentum in 2020. Often previously associated with concepts such as cybersecurity and online literacy, digital resilience now encompasses the various ways organizations use digital tools and systems to quickly recover from or adjust to crises. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a common organizational response was to turn to digital technologies to maintain certain levels of activity during the pandemic. This includes the use of digital platforms by small restaurant owners, the acceleration of e-commerce, and implementation of intelligent manufacturing technologies.
According to research group IDC, spending on digital resilience as it relates to core infrastructure investment and innovation is projected to accelerate in 2021. As we begin the new year, how might we think about expanding our efforts in digital resilience?
First, for those organizations who have yet to embark on their digital transformation, it’s time to get started. Anecdotal evidence suggests that those organizations who were early adopters of digital technologies were best positioned to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, for example. As the pace and frequency of disruption continues to increase, digital technologies will constitute a critical element of business continuity and organizational resilience to sudden external shocks. Digital transformation is only as good as the ideas that drive it. One way to get started is to build a pipeline of digital initiatives. Leading digital organizations implement systematic approaches that allow them to capture and develop ideas from a wide range of sources, and establish stage-gated processes to funnel ideas for further development and continuous evaluation. Another way is to leverage what the organization already has. Many organizations have various digital pilots in place which may have previously been considered “nice to have,” but upon further reflection were deemed essential for the customer in times of crisis. Take a closer look and see if there is anything that can be repurposed.
Second, continue investing in a core digital infrastructure. The importance of integrating new digital initiatives with existing IT rules, systems and capabilities is often underestimated, even in normal times. Digital transformation is an end-to-end process, one closely intertwined with back-end business processes and systems. Take the example of global consumer goods company Nestlé. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a dedicated internal team built a dashboard to track COVID-19 outbreaks down to individual ZIP codes and correlated this data with internal manufacturing and supply chain data to maintain product supply. The ability to obtain data from different IT systems used across the organization was partly due to previous initiatives to consolidate and standardize IT systems and core data across Nestlé and all its subsidiaries.
Third, continue to design for privacy and security. When organizations are under pressure, they also become prime targets for attacks such as phishing attempts or malware. Google reported spotting 18 million scam emails per day at the height of the pandemic in 2020. While organizations may never predict when they will be hit by a cybersecurity crisis, they can design an effective cyber resilience plan to mitigate the effects of an attack against their data assets while keeping the business running.
MORE FOR YOU
Fourth, continue to build visibility into your supply chain. According to BCG, the advantages of digital supply chain management include increases in product availability, faster response times and better working capital reductions. While digital supply chains may mean different things to every organization, ensuring supply chain visibility and control is especially helpful during crises. Digitalization around end to end visibility of goods and inventory, and use of data analytics and digital twins to predict and simulate flows, help to make global supply chains more agile in times of uncertainty.
Building digital resilience in 2021 enables organizations to mitigate their risks, and adapt to changes to come out of crises stronger.