When COVID-19 emerged and turned into a global pandemic, no one had a playbook – let alone the final one – on how to respond and adapt your business continuity to the unprecedented challenges.

When home stay and social distancing missions went into effect, and business trips, conferences, and gatherings of significant size were canceled, we were quickly reminded of the importance of personal connection between people in doing business.

We had no choice but to focus on all available digital resources to do business both internally and with customers and partners. For many, this marked a major transition to fully online sales and service, as was the case with Legacy Toys in Minnesota, which was founded and developed based on a hands-on, in-store customer experience.

However, owner Brad Ruoho told Fortune, “He needed to turn his business around quickly and accelerate plans (which were already in motion before the pandemic) to start an online store immediately.” Ruoho said, “We’ve grown so fast that we literally didn’t ship anything and shipped several hundred packages a day.”

Customize and promote your business during a pandemic

The traditional office culture of commuting to a physical office building and meeting up with colleagues, or traveling thousands of miles to meet up with customers, was such an ingrained way of doing business that many organizations hesitated or completely refused to get a job from home or offering virtual option. Why? Because that’s how we’ve always done it and nothing has forced us to change. Enter: COVID-19.

At the same time, the world was discovering how much both human and digital aspects need to work together in order for life and business to normalize, adapt and reinvent themselves. It’s not something that digitally mature companies didn’t know. However, such a size and diverse application required continuous innovation and adaptation to each and every context and circumstance, whether business, educational, social or personal.

While personal office life sure remains important in many ways, thousands of companies have found that they can actually work with a largely distant workforce. Because they had to.

Suddenly, the world had to find ways to manage assignments at home while it was working, training, socializing, and even entertaining from home. Fortunately, digital tools have been developed to accommodate these numerous customizations across different sectors, industries and companies.

Now it is time to realize that the digital age has fully begun. There is now a clear need to find ways to begin, continue, and accelerate your company’s digital transformation to advance into the post-pandemic world. Ready or Not.

This world is still evolving and changing all the time. It will surely bring many unforeseen challenges. However, we can count on a handful of lessons we’ve learned since early 2020. These lessons are less best practices than guiding principles for reinventing business using digital solutions to create a better world for all people.

Use customer information in real time

Even before the pandemic, customers were switching moment to moment, and companies were using intelligent digital tools to get real-time intelligence from customer data and keep up with evolving consumers. With the help of data analytics, companies have been able to identify changes in their customers’ behavior and better understand what they need, want, and how they are feeling. This enabled data-driven actions to respond effectively in real time.

According to Deloitte, “COVID-19 painfully shows that digitally native organizations that are“ by default based on intelligence ”are much more resilient … These organizations are able to handle the crisis more smoothly, and we expect them to move faster too relax and perform well … “

Companies with greater digital maturity were able to react agilely to customer needs. And the mood during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was changing even faster and more drastically than before.

For example, many companies found innovative ways to respond to customer needs by providing services and resources such as: B. providing Adobe Creative Suite to students who no longer had access to tools in university technology labs in Spring 2020, along with other programs that are being offered to help students and faculty continue to be creative and productive.

Enable agile communication about the pandemic

This is where your data-driven customer insights can be implemented in real time if you adapt your messages and communication accordingly. Since information, and therefore the mood of customers and employees, changes so quickly and so often, it is important that you can control your communication flexibly on the basis of real-time data.

Many companies have regularly set up newsletters, updates, and digital channels to share corporate communications with employees and customers, giving them the opportunity to ask questions and find out how colleagues and colleagues in companies and industries react and adapt.

A McKinsey report said: “Executives may have a tendency to turn to governments and the media for clear and simple safety instructions. Do not do it. Employers often underestimate how much their employees depend on them as trustworthy sources. “

Creating central spaces for communication and engagement with employees was important for Walmart as their employees used OneWalmart, the company’s intranet site, to stay informed of rapidly changing policies and access resources. By helping your employees feel engaged and informed, you can also be more confident, engaged, and productive at work.

Maintain the human connection as an essential aspect of your digital transformation

This is what makes agile communication so important as communication is essential for human connection. Monitoring and assisting staff in adapting to work from home, including schooling children from home, has been a major focus during the pandemic to ensure mental and physical health. Part of this effort is to check out your people, keep communication going to keep them informed and engaging with each other and the company culture. This has taken the form of Zoom Happy Hours, Quiz Nights, and other virtual social events.

Some ways to maintain that sense of connectedness and engagement alongside integrating digital transformation include continuing to incorporate welcoming traditions, checking in emails, and taking measures to combat burnout and create meaningful connections.

Ultimately, the clear and authentic communication, the provision of spaces for engagement between customer and employee communities, and the demonstration of care and concern for your employees and customers as people will develop and strengthen your corporate culture and brand value through the pandemic and beyond.

As we’ve heard before, digital and human transformation are complementary, two essential aspects of the same process. Machine computing power and algorithmic intelligence augment and expand human capabilities, and uniquely human traits such as empathy, strategic thinking, and context awareness make effective use of machine learning insights. The human connection remains essential.

Embrace the digital revolution

Stacy Martinet, vice president of Marketing Strategy and Communications at Adobe, said, “We’re not going back. The digital revolution is here. This is the beginning of the next chapter, and what people are learning now will serve them well in this next era. “

The old normal is not coming back. And that’s good. Make the most of the challenges and opportunities to grow and develop for you and your customers. Work, school, business, entertainment, travel and everyday life have to change and we have the opportunity to shape our newly invented world.

Learn more about reinventing the normal and read the Adobe Business Continuity Playbook to learn how to adapt and evolve your business during a pandemic.