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[ARTICLE] Digital Transformation: The Driver for Adaptation, Recovery & Rebuilding

Sam Button, Head of Growth, Roar Media

At the online Digital Transformation European Conference on October 7th-8th, we welcomed panellists from various industries to have an interactive discussion about their experiences using digital technology to adapt to the pressures of Covid-19 and how they are looking ahead to the future. We were fortunate enough to be joined by Estelle Ayer, Director, Corporate Strategy at Condé Nast, Laurentiu Vasile, Regional Digital Transformation Head at Asahi Breweries and Sedef Gavas, Interim Chief Digital & Product Officer, Natural History Museum.

The session covered key topics including remote work, digital workplace, supply chain, customer experience & employee engagement. The conversation provided insights into the positive innovation which has been accelerated due to the crisis and the increasing importance of employee experience and wellbeing.

The crisis caused a major change to the ways of working, all 3 companies first looked at the best way to support this and remain productive. Keeping the wellbeing of staff was paramount and there was an emphasis on keeping the workforce safe both physically & mentally through both the extended period of remoteness, or whilst working on the front line. Asahi Breweries quickly transitioned to utilising remote tools already available but realised they also needed to focus on making the digital workplace secure. On the customer front, there was massive changes in consumer sentiment which needed to be analysed and the data used to drive decisions on what to brew next, reducing their planning cycle to adapt to consumer demands. 

Estelle Ayer informed us that Condé Nast have been shifting to a more customer centric model, looking to transform the business model & interaction with customers in order to make sure they are moving with the times & consumer behaviour. This was accelerated due to the pandemic when they also fast tracked the merger of two businesses using their pre-established global network & remote working capabilities, noting G-suite, Slack & Zoom aided the seamless innovation as well as clear & consistent internal communication throughout the organisation on the tools available for collaboration.

Sedef Gavas (Natural History Museum) reiterated this point, lauding the importance of consistent & regular internal communications right from the top of the company. Internal intranet & office 365 had been deployed but not all users were habitual users, in this essence the pandemic propelled adoption; with internal & external support available. Constant employee feedback was sought and acted upon to ensure efficiency & productivity within Microsoft Teams & the digital workplace.

Laurentiu mentioned that the expectations of business leaders had adapted due to the pandemic, they were suddenly greeted with the mantra of only attending sites physically if you absolutely needed to be present. This led to the need to support digital presence within meetings and increased data being available to perform tasks & analysis. With an increased need to support all employees to be productive, it was vital to simplify things for employees not used to working in a fully digital role, make knowledge available to all on how to utilise digital tools and also look into process automation to minimise the number of physical workers on site.

Connectivity to remove silos

Silos exist within mature organisations. Technology teams work tirelessly to remove barriers & enable connectivity on a global scale to ensure communication & collaboration was interdepartmental and an online international network connects knowledge and learnings. If you are not connected to your IT services, then you can silo yourself. The pandemic focussed attention on connectivity and effectively removed any remaining silos, simultaneously increasing communication & understanding across departments & business units.

Working from home can be living at work

Working from home has skyrocketed the adoption of digital technologies, making these more accepted by all. It is important to be mindful that people should switch off and not always be available, you should educate the organisation on best practices around work for your own wellbeing. Ensure there is a two-way communication with your workforce, employee experience is vital to monitor from the prospective of productivity and wellbeing. Many will be apprehensive about returning to the office which does disrupt the dynamic once again, with a mix of people working from the office and home.

A predicted rise in the adoption of emerging technologies

As well as smart collaboration, the adoption of analytics has also been accelerated. For Asahi Breweries, they are now looking much more seriously at using industrial robots. Before these seemed expensive whereas now they remove the need for a large workforce to be present in breweries. Changing consumer behaviour has affected the supply chain, with realignment necessary when looking at production & transport solutions. The Natural History Museum mentioned the importance of a strategy which will implement further AI & automation across the next few years to digitalise experiences.


Everyone has a part to play within sustainability. The pandemic offers a chance to reset digital strategy & further incorporate sustainable digital design. Digital capabilities can negate the need for travel & paper and lead to a more efficient supply chain with automation & robotics.

We will be uploading the full panel session next week, so make sure you check back to Beyond Business Buzzwords or register for our newsletter.

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