A Side Effect of Covid-19: Digital Transformation

Such crises create an environment for rapid innovation. Covid-19 has driven us all online, delivering a digital revolution in a matter of weeks. Online grocery shopping, video conference calling, retail and hospitality services are some of the main drivers of our digital crash course and have given us a glimpse of digitals potential to make life easier and more productive. Online shopping is not new, neither are digital shop fronts, web pages and social media, but now it is rippling into every industry and its importance is paramount, even in the sign industry. Our customers are there, our events and conferences are likely to be there, it is where we will connect, it is where we will innovate and learn, it is where we can be more productive and efficient. The reimagining of business to using digital technologies to create new or modify existing business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements is digital transformation. Even the sign industry will need to develop outstanding digital transformation if we are wanting to meet the growing expectations of our new world.

Does this affect the sign industry?
Covid-19 has been incredibly challenging for all businesses, no-one will be immune from its impacts. But the opportunities in front of us are huge. No matter the industry, those who refuse to undertake some level of meaningful digital transformation are those who may end up falling behind. Think Uber vs taxi services. As taxis fail to take a digital approach, Uber has taken over and the fate of old-school taxi and cab services looks uncertain. Or how about the widely known Blockbuster and Netflix story. Blockbuster is one of the clearest examples of a business unwilling to adapt to digital. The mistake cost them an entire empire, whilst Netflix met the demand. Of course, these are extreme examples, but you must understand the point being made here.
Digital transformation may be seen as a costly and unnecessary commitment. And, there’s no doubt that the process takes time, investment and patience. However, ultimately, it’s the businesses that adapt and adopt that are reaping the rewards in today’s business landscape.

What digital technologies can we adopt in a “hands on” industry?
Now is a good time to start thinking about where digital technologies will fit into your sign business, and of course in a hands on industry there will be places where it is impossible, but where we can, there is a need to act quickly on market demands such as developing new or modify existing business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. Here are some ideas that could be worth thinking about:

Customer Experience and Engagement:
Why not try new technologies to improve customer engagement and experience? Or perhaps make changes to how you communicate and support your customers? What about investing in and creating digital content as a way to keep up engagement? With people overall spending more time online, there has been a huge uptake of social media, a rise of video content, and mobile usage grown exponentially. The customer today has transformed into a digitally smart customer and those that meet these demands will ultimately have a competitive advantage over those that choose not to adopt digital solutions.

Product and Sales Innovations:
What products do you create that may require a pivot or reimagination?
A service that can move digitally for increased efficiency? For example ordering systems. Customers want things now or never, what new ideas can you implement with your solutions? You could think about trying out different sales channels and changing how you serve customers.

Digital Workflows:
What about embracing digital workflows to make businesses more efficient? By optimising production, in turn you cut costs.
It is also known that millenials and the Gen Z demographics have an expectation of technological innovations, and when given the choice, it’s likely that these cohorts will opt to work for businesses that embrace digital workflows, making your workplace seen to be attracive to the largest demographic in the work force.

Smart Manufacturing:
Smart Manufacturing is a broad term, but simply put, it is a combination of various technologies and solutions, which collectively increase productivity, improve inefficiencies and further sustainability. Are there technologies you could employ within your sign business that will ensure more efficiency and increase output?

Digital Marketing: 
Digital marketing refers to any online marketing efforts or assets: Search engine optimisation, online advertising, social media, email marketing, web sites. Are you utilising all that the world wide web can offer? Not only does digital marketing reach further and improve customer relationships , with the right strategies and a targeted audience, the marketing can often reach the right customers at a much lower price than traditional marketing methods.

Data Analytics:
Ever wondered how much business you are getting from your website or social media? Putting time into technology is a wasted investment if it does not lead to a tangible outcome, so we must find a way to measure effectiveness. Using data analytics you can collect and measure digital data to find user behavior on the likes of social media and websites. With this data it will help to understand your customer and also show where improvements can be made.

Why is this important?
Business as usual may not be enough, the game has changed too much and we need to find how to operate in new ways in order to adapt to the market demand, make business more efficient and resilient. With digital enablement we can all adopt and take advantage of, we can build a nation of resilient and innovative sign makers who have set the foundations for enduring success.