Ecommerce is booming, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing businesses to accelerate their digital transformation. Yet even as we embrace digital transformation, we must not forget to put humans first.
“Humans are more important in technology and to technology than ever before. I’m constantly reminded that the ‘servers’ in our IT industry originally meant someone or something that serves. COVID-19 has reminded us of our service obligations to ourselves, our families, our teams, our communities, and our business networks,” Boomi Vice President for Asia Pacific and Japan Ajit Melarkode told Digital Life Asia.
“The inability to do all the normal activities in an unconstrained manner, such as regularly keeping fit, meeting face to face, breaking bread together, appreciating verbal and non-verbal communication, and having to develop new customer, partner, and employee connections entirely online (and ‘visible above the shoulder on a small box on the screen’) is calling for more empathy, more patience, increased ingenuity to get things done, better communication, stronger collaboration, and for more leaders who can show the way through hard times. Tough times never last. Tough people and companies do,” he said.
Melarkode was responding to Digital Life Asia’s question on the biggest lesson he has learned from overcoming the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For her part, Boomi Head of Marketing for Asia Pacific and Japan Tania Mushtaq also emphasized how digital transformation involves strengthening human connections.
“The biggest lesson learnt is that in adversity lies opportunity, as long as we avoid myopia and expand our thinking to what is possible outside of what has been done in the past. ‘Out of This World’ was a perfect example of how much more we could achieve in a digital world that we had not explored before. COVID-19 has sparked a new wave of innovative and creative thinking and courage to step outside the mold which is going to shape our future forever,” Mushtaq told Digital Life Asia.
New way of embracing digital
“At an organizational level, all our customers’ stories showcased a new and heartwarming theme — a focus on helping those in need and connecting the communities around them in challenging times. A digital and data-driven economy played a key role in enabling and strengthening human connections and progress. In less than a year, people and organizations have gone through a lifetime of evolution and we are better for it,” Mushtaq said.
The recent Boomi Asia Pacific and Japan summit was fittingly called “Out of This World” because it was held virtually like most events this year.
What has Boomi learned from holding “Out of This World”, and does it plan to hold more virtual conferences in the post-pandemic world?
“The event provided us with an opportunity we never had before — to extend the content and insights from our customers and executives to everyone in Asia Pacific and Japan, and even other parts of the world. We were able to invite our customers from across the regions to speak at a single event. An in-person event does not allow for such an opportunity although it has other benefits such as face-to-face networking,” Mushtaq said.
What customers want
“The response for ‘Out of This World’ was overwhelmingly positive from everyone who attended, which reinforced our decision to morph our events into a hybrid format moving forward. In the post-pandemic world, we plan to hold virtual conferences at a regional level, since it is critical for IT leaders across the region to access valuable content and case studies that guide their strategies for success and provoke innovative thinking. However, the need for face-to-face networking is also important, so we will focus on running in-person extended sessions at a country level, where permitted and possible,” she said.
Meanwhile, Melarkode emphasized that this decision would prioritize what customers want and need.
“I would consider more virtual events in the post-pandemic world but then again, it would be guided by what customers and partners want and need. In the post-pandemic world, everyone may just want to regain their humanity and connect in person whenever they can.
A year ago, everything digital was hailed as panacea. If anything, the pandemic has shown us that there are some dystopian elements to being locked in, and that 100% digital is probably not realistic or desirable,” he said.