What the Coronavirus is teaching us about Digital Transformation


The Coronavirus is bringing the world together, in other ways it is keeping us apart.

A paradox. It both compresses and stretches the fabric of our global community. It is a human tragedy. We express our concern and empathy for those afflicted and those lost.

This article is intended to help senior business leaders with a perspective on the rapidly evolving and dynamic circumstances. Our intention is to help decision-makers arrest the spread of the virus and prevent suffering.

The article is written on the 9th of March and updated regularly as the perspectives may become out of date.

Our clients are reporting major disruptions to the complex, inter-connectedness of our global and local economies.  The number of inter-dependencies between the systems that make up our society is accelerating in speed and widening in breadth.  Supply chains, federal agencies, local community services, professional sports leagues, call centers, and local small businesses are intertwined in a complex web that brings the global and local economy together in ways that are being disrupted.

This is a time to return to your organizations’ corporate values and commit to putting people before profit.

Simultaneously, we are living in a time of unprecedented reliance on digital customer experiences. Let’s use this time to learn and prevent suffering.

As we turn to our teams to provide contingency planning, LCG has taken the time to provide some insights for leaders in the unenviable position of charting their organizations’ digital transformation.

1. Show Empathy.
2. Be Responsibly Transparent.
3. Communicate Thoughtfully.
4. Physically and Digitally Protect your Privacy.
5. Build Community through Delegation and Collaboration.
6. Be Real, Be Patient.
7. Virtually take People out to Lunch
8. Lead with Optimism and Harness Change to Power your Digital Future.

1. Show Empathy.

This is NOT business as usual. We are all making adjustments to the ways we work together. Would be in-person meetings are instead virtual. Many are telecommuting that would be going into the office. It’s going to be lonely at times since we aren’t physically together. But consider the reports of those who are under quarantine, one retired law enforcement officer under quarantine recently stated that he felt that he was in solitary confinement. We may not have the water cooler therapy with our co-workers outside of formal meetings but we can remind ourselves that it could be worse.

So, think first to understand how the decisions you make will impact the various rings of stakeholders of those whom you lead.

Understand the emotions and perspectives of others. Consider how the interdependencies of one part of our global fabric impact another part of your local world.

  • How would the closing of local schools impact a key supplier or a segment of your employees with children at home?
  • How does telecommuting impact the quality of your next client deliverable and what communications should you be sharing to keep everyone informed?
  • How will your sales and marketing staff treat prospects and customers without the benefit of annual trade shows

2. Be Responsibly Transparent.

Over-communicate and over-share your data where appropriate. Find ways to share your story and data in relevant ways.

  • Let’s start with the dashboards about the virus itself. Government and healthcare professionals are doing a wonderful job of sharing real-time dashboards.
  • There are some great Tableau and Microsoft Power BI dashboards on the spread of the coronavirus.

Johns Hopkins:

Tableau Public:

While these examples are critical responsibilities for government agencies and healthcare professionals, there are many applications for companies to share data.

  • Partner with your stakeholders and increase your relevancy as a brand by sharing insights and data where appropriate.
  • Provide either public or password-protected access to critical information on supply-chains, trade show and meeting cancellations, contingency plans, file shares, and other data needed to help stakeholders adjust to the disruptions of business as usual.
  • The more I learn about the inter-connectedness of our global and local society, it’s hard to identify any organization or business NOT impacted by the chain of events.
  • Almost all companies have a need to communicate with their customers and stakeholders, so think hard before dismissing a serious re-evaluation of the communications plan.

3. Communicate Thoughtfully.

Consider calling your Crisis Communication Public Relations Agency and if you don’t have one, we can agnostically recommend a few.

As the economy adjusts to a new normal, expectations across your stakeholders will need to be managed with increased care. Chances are that annual forecasts are off, and contingency plans are driving your staff to complete round after round of planning exercises.  Revenues may be down, and supply chains degraded and disrupted. Customer expectations and relationships will likely be strained.

Of the planning that went into D-day, Eisenhower said that the “plans were useless, but that the planning process was priceless.”

Media relations and acute messaging are going to help manage the expectations of investors, customers, and internal stakeholders.

Consider nurturing relationships and augmenting the communications strategy using marketing automation platforms and segmenting stakeholder groups within your CRM so that you can get the right messaging to the right audience quickly. Use display advertising to reach users to over-communicate policy changes and announcements where appropriate.

Consider video messages through text to reassure stakeholders with a personal message, such as video messaging platforms like bombbomb.com.

It’s important to design thoughtful digital customer journeys and measure the experience using digital analytics best-practices.  The use of Design Sprints can help you rapidly prototype digital communications and accelerate your organization’s time to deliver valuable and relevant customer experiences.  Organizations of all sizes can use digital communications to accelerate desired business outcomes.  We cover a lot of these topics in our eBook, the “How to Launch a Digital Transformation initiative for Customer Experience Management.”

4. Physically and Digitally Protect your Privacy.

While corporations may have a physically secure on-premise infrastructure (to include the security professionals in your lobby), keep in mind that access to corporate trade secrets, laptops, excel files, databases and other sensitive and classified information will now be conducted through the tunnels of the internet on personal devices from places other than the corporate campus.

  • “Son, can I borrow your tablet for my zoom meeting?”
  • “Mom – thanks for letting me borrow your corporate laptop to listen to music while I did my algebra. Don’t worry, I only downloaded a few movies and songs from this foreign music website.”

Expect more cyber breaches and ensure that your password discipline and home network encryption, intrusion detection and policies are ready for the increased volume of off-premise access.

Your cyber-security teams should conduct training as well as perform audits and assessments to emphasize the new normal.  Upgrade hardware, standardize device types, security protocols, cyber-software policies, and internet access speeds and virtual access points to facilitate uniformity as your enterprise scales its telecommuting policies.

Consider investing in a VPN and requiring employees to use a token to access sensitive systems, networks, and information.

Whether your employees are doing work at the coffee shop or working on a client list using public Wi-Fi, someone is bound to leave their computer in the passenger seat while they run in to pick up a pizza.  The number of “points of failure” is about to increase and so will the reported thefts of devices and security breaches.

5. Build Community through Delegation and Collaboration.

Challenges tend to bring out the best and worst in humanity. There will be opportunities to delegate and collaborate in new ways, just as there are going to be times to work alone.

Challenge your thinking about which path to take.

  • Some personalities tend to pull-back assignments because they want to control the outcome. That’s appropriate in many cases, but this is also a chance to engage your network geographically to pull off certain tasks.
  • Engage a partner or co-worker in another city to make an important in-person introduction or local appearance. Maximize collaboration when appropriate by inviting a local resource to engage while other resources engage virtually.
  • Your personal and professional network is a precious asset. In the military, I was taught to “use your powder wisely, but use your powder.” I think the analogy is appropriate to “use your network wisely, but use your network.”

6. Be Real, Be Patient.

Expect more conference calls with cats and kiddos in the background.  The chasm between the office and the home office means that we need to be tolerant of each other as we get corporate business done from the extra bedroom/home office.

It gets more personal when we use video conferencing, which may be a good way to keep it real.

7. Virtually take People out to Lunch.

Work around the distance to build meaningful relationships. Don’t let time and space get in the way of your networking.

Here at LCG, we recruit from across the Americas. When we assemble client engagement teams, our consultants may find themselves working on multi-national, multi-disciplinary teams, with various languages, backgrounds, cultures and time zones. Teams need to “Form > Norm > Storm” and should be encouraged to get to know each other through one on one interactions, developing relationships before the heavy lifting starts.

What would you do if you took over a team that was expected to work together in the same office? Go to lunch of course! Maybe all of you would go to lunch together!

Why can’t you buy your team members a meal from afar using the local UberEATS or Grubhub where they live and break bread together at lunch over a video conference? “Hey guys, burritos on me at noon next Wednesday, email me your address and fire up your cameras for a team lunch.”

It’s important to not only use virtual meeting software for the formal stuff but to make sure that we’re building professional relationships as best as we can.


8. Lead with Optimism and Harness Change to Power your Digital Future.

Research indicates that the virus could result in $2.7 Trillion dollars in lost output, the equivalent of the output of the UK (the 6th largest economy).[1]  Our personal and professional lives are sure to be disrupted.

Strong leaders will find new ways to do business and serve their customers and that’s going to require new answers.

With so much change, there are going to be headwinds. Some leaders amplify the wind in the ears of those on their vessel, others shield their teams from the external pressures so they can focus on their roles.

Now is the time to adjust the sails and consider how an accelerated digital transformation and a digital customer experience can provide value to your customers.

How else are you preparing for your digital transformation? What else would you add as a trend? We would love your comments to learn from you and engage with you on these topics.

Laying the Foundation for Your Digital Transformation & Customer Experience Transformation

Are you an executive charged with leading a digital transformation or customer experience management initiative?

Download our Nano-handbook on what you need to know and do in your first 90 days to lead a successful customer experience transformation.

5 keys to a fast start on your DX/CX transformation:
  1. Automate and digitalize the great experiences you already deliver and build from there.
  2. Build digital personas based upon the customer’s experience which are used in journey mapping and process mapping.
  3. Build consensus by prioritizing process dependency over person dependent initiatives.
  4. Set, communicate, and operationalize standards using a digital balanced scorecard.
  5. Build multi-disciplinary, cross-departmental teams.

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[1] Orlik, Tom, Maeva Cousin, and Jinshan Hong. “Coronavirus Could Cost the Global Economy $2.7 Trillion. Here’s How.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, March 6, 2020. https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-coronavirus-pandemic-global-economic-risk/.


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