In fact, the Pew Research Center found that a full 86 percent of respondents to a survey on post-pandemic life expect the pandemic to have a lasting impact on everyday life. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), in the context of retail and e-commerce, more and more people are looking to shop online after the pandemic – even for unconventional products and services. On the workplace side, employees see the advantages and challenges of the new world of hybrid and remote work. Microsoft’s 2022 Future of Work report outlines benefits including increased collaboration platforms and baseline improvements in accessible digital workspaces, as well as barriers such as “video call fatigue” and increased employee burnout.
While the Covid-19 crisis has spawned a more virtual, mobile and distributed business ecosystem, the reliance on digital experiences is now an inexorable cultural shift. To remain relevant, businesses must continue to iterate on the digitization of work for customers and employees sparked by the pandemic.
In a survey conducted by MIT Technology Review Insights, respondents cited priorities such as implementing self-service and personalized experiences — all of which put digital trust at the forefront. 62% of respondents indicated that the pandemic has prompted their organizations to improve their internal messaging and communication systems, 53% said they have enhanced self-service capabilities, and 53% said they have improved their integration of digital channels and support to facilitate smoother operations (see Figure 1).
Digital experience across industries
To attribute the current digital evolution to covid-19 alone is an oversimplification. Even before the pandemic, businesses in nearly every industry were eager to invest in emerging technologies. That said, there is no doubt that the pandemic is an accelerator. In 2020, online retail sales increased by more than 30%.4 They are up another 14% in 2021. According to our survey data, the majority of respondents (62%) noted that the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of customer and employee experiences by one to three years (see Figure 2).
Lax Gopisetty, global vice president at Infosys, noted that many companies have now “re-aligned” to focus on technology as a core competency rather than a supporting capability. Today, digital experiences have transformed from a piecemeal tool for process management or data collection to a disintermediated, service-oriented component of nearly every business operation.
Policymakers and executives have come to realize that siloed strategies are not enough either. A commensurate employee experience (EX) must be implemented to deliver an engaging customer experience (CX). Gartner estimates that by 2024, retailers that offer this “total experience” that spans both considerations will outperform competitors by 25% on satisfaction metrics for EX and CX.
What’s more, an integrated “whole experience” strategy may include both digital and in-person features. 44% of survey respondents plan to prioritize implementing a “hybrid” experience that incorporates digital and real-world elements into their customer experience strategy in the next year, and more than 30% plan to implement a similar hybrid system in their customer experience staff experience strategy.