Now or never for digital transformation
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Now or never for digital transformation

Past year has shown us what kinds of changes are needed, second wave adds to the urgency

We are back where we started in the early months of 2020. However, we are already aware of the impacts of Covid-19 on us, our businesses and the economy. While it is disheartening to be back at square one, we now have more knowledge and are prepared to face the crisis ahead.

One thing is for sure – the virus has created a larger divide between people. Many people’s livelihoods and businesses are dying. It is always much easier for us to talk than to act, especially when we’re in favourable positions.

Regardless of the size or type of business, we cannot wait. We must prioritise digital transformation now. As business leaders, we are responsible for our people’s livelihoods and the sustainability of our enterprises. The pressure is on, especially when new restrictions accompany the rise in Covid-19 cases. 

According to a white paper by ABeam Consulting, finance and banking, retail and advertising industries in Thailand are already pushing digitisation. Organisations already know how to drive digital initiatives in normal circumstances (pre-Covid-19), the authors observe. But they may not have the right approach when dealing with the digital transformation required at this time of volatility.

While we know how important it is, digital transformation is easier said than done. It requires planning and — especially these days — agility. Here are some elements you might need to re-assess when digitising in today’s uncertain world.

The first important element is the organisational structure. When we introduce changes such as adopting new or more digital approaches, we cannot always remain the same. The existing structure may not meet the needs of those changes.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all model that can drive successful digital transformation. Assessing the current organisational structure and how it can handle today’s volatile business landscape is a good first step. An example I have seen in the past year was the adoption of agile structuring within the organisation to move speedily and adapt to digital changes.

The second element is workplace requirements. While we see a bigger picture in the organisational structure, workplace requirements dig deeper into the operational levels. The main question is how are we going to support our people to work more effectively in the digitised world?

Again, the approaches here don’t follow best practices or a one-size-fits-all model. Each organisation will approach workplace requirements differently. Integrating a balance of remote work and office work is something we might look into.

The third element is the overall customer experience. If digital transformation is internalised, it can also be applied to the way we approach and provide for our customers. Many businesses have added e-commerce and online services, while others have transformed their business model toward an omnichannel approach.

Omnichannel strategy involves driving online and offline approaches into one seamless platform. Customers can personalise their interactions with the company, depending on their preferences. In the past year, we have seen how online aspects such as social media and online shopping have boomed because of lockdowns and social distancing.

According to an article from Business Reporter, customers now expect changes to their shopping experiences, with most saying they won’t go back to pre-pandemic shopping habits. This is clear even in Thailand, and maybe something for us to drive further.

The final element is innovation practices. Survival for a business is one thing but leading in the market is another new level. The rate at which digital transformation is happening means many organisations are at the forefront. We do not have any other option but to innovate if we want to drive our businesses forward.

Also, customer behaviour and preferences have changed. As we can see in the rapid move toward omnichannel approaches, digital is required now. The only way we can achieve success is if we think about digital transformation in the way we practise and drive innovation.

As we already know, digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight. The elements may vary in priority for different organisations, so the approaches may vary. Digital transformation has already been going on at a rapid rate, and because of this pandemic, it has moved into an even higher gear. Amid this second wave in Thailand, we must take the opportunity not just for ourselves, but for our people and the organisation.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC - Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at

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