COVID-19 boosted the digital transformation: an Alumnus founded QVAX
The COVID-19 crisis has completely forced companies to adapt and transform their business activities. Within a few weeks, employees had to work full time remotely. The use of communication software such as Zoom exploded at the start of the pandemic. As a result, this company showed an increased operating and free cash-flow of 565% and 610% respectively.
Digitalization of paper-based processes and logistics to allow employees to work from home has been critical for companies to keep minimal business activities during lockdown periods. The rapid and exponential use of IT servers and VPN to support employee activities, or the demand for computer accessories and peripherals to assist daily tasks at home, were some of the challenges that companies had to rapidly accommodate at the start of the pandemic. According to a McKinsey survey, organizations accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply chain services and their internal operations by three to four years. The share of digital products in their portfolio was boosted by seven years.
The business activities were not the only field impacted by the restriction measures. Education in a broad sense has been affected by lockdown. Specifically, teachers quickly adapted their activities by providing numeric/hybrid courses to students. Governments supported schools and universities with digital equipment such as computers, especially for low-income environments. However, 32% of students in some European countries did not have access to education for several months. It was also important to support low-skilled and older employees with training and coaching on the use of digital tools (e.g., shared-platform).
Outside the business and the education field, the use of a digital tool to launch the vaccination campaign in Belgium was a great success! QVAX, founded by an Alumnus (Jean-Sébastien Gosuin), reached 400.000 requests to get a vaccine in less than fourteen hours after the activation of the digital platform. This tool, based on basic principles and rules used in the event industry, helped to optimize the efficiency of the vaccine distribution and the prioritization between populations. For more information, you can listen to the case study on Youtube.
The rapid digital transformation of companies was the starting point of a long-term strategy. Consumer preferences changed, digital adoption significantly increased in the banking, entertainment, and grocery industries. Based on the data of countries in recovery mode, consumption patterns were unlikely to go back to pre-crisis level. More than ever, the pandemic highlighted the urgent necessity to implement a digital axis in the corporate strategy of public and private organizations. Indeed, only 11% of respondents of a McKinsey survey of May 2021 believed their current business models will still be viable in 2023.
The pandemic significantly increased the implementation speed of digital technologies in core business and operational practices and the update of company business models. Top performing companies made massive investments in digital technologies during the pandemic. Digital is now considered as a true differentiation factor in the corporate strategy. Companies will need to continue investing in digital technologies to outperform competitors.
To recover from the COVID-19 crisis, the European Union will also support member states spending at minima 20% of their national recovery plan to the digital area. The future will definitively be more digital to increase the resilience to future pandemics.
And you, what was the biggest digital challenge you have faced in your day-to-day activities during the pandemic ?