It can be challenging keeping up with all of the moving parts when it comes to digital transformation.

While it’s a term we’ve all been hearing for some time, there was a clear resurgence when COVID-19 hit.

As the pandemic has swept all corners of the globe, suddenly, the business world’s attention is being pulled toward “digital transformation” and what organisations should be doing if to survive through the hurricane of COVID-19.

We all witnessed and experienced just how fast our own organisations reacted when they had no other choice.

As we’ve had a chance to reflect on this, we wanted to discuss what we’re terming the digital whiplash.

The digital whiplash seems to be caused by one or both of two things.


1. We just moved. Really, really fast.

Well, much like that, we all just did two years’ worth of digital transformation efforts in two months.

A particular scene from the movie X-Men springs to mind when thinking of this: Quicksilver (who has the superpower of speed) holds Magneto’s neck to prevent him from getting whiplash.


Don’t get us wrong, speedy decision making definitely has its value but like any situation there’s always two sides to every coin. We think that the whiplash might be catching up on a few people and as a result causing some pain points for organisations as some of the decisions made in April and May were made with a short term situation in mind.

Deloitte puts this best in an article they recently published call “A case of acute disruption” – they talk about the difference between how you treat a situation when you think it’s acute vs what happens when it becomes something more chronic, and how this analogy can be used for the way in which we reacted to Covid-19 through digital transformation.

“In a way, the current wave of digital transformation resembles how physicians respond to acute medical conditions—rapid and dramatic interventions designed to stabilize the patient and lessen the immediate severity of the condition. The intervention is often not appropriate for the long term, but absolutely necessary to give the patient a respite and transition to more long-term solutions.

The expectation with acute medical conditions is that they are temporary, although they sometimes recur or morph into more chronic conditions that are persistent and long-lived. Chronic medical conditions cry out for sustained treatments that patients can tolerate over extended periods of time..

While COVID-19 represents an acute disruption today, it may recur or become a more chronic disruption over time. This increases the challenge for executives who are trying to lead their organizations through complex digital transformation journeys to determine what are the equivalent digital moves, what are the pivots necessary to respond to persistent and long-lived disruptions (e.g., the shift from on-premise to cloud computing).”

What has become very clear to us is that this is much more of a chronic situation, with organisations needing to have the ability and flexibility to react as and when they need to.

Which leads us to the second cause of whiplash….

2. The constant head turn of where we should be focusing

Another cause of whiplash, the constant back and forth turning of the neck – Where should your attention and focus be?

Anyone in a technology focused role is now not only expected to keep up with the latest in best practice and innovation, but also advise the organisation on what they need for an unpredictable future, whilst all at the same time keeping business operational and in many cases extremely cost conscious.

A quick Google search will show you all of the information on “The top 10 digital transformation trends post COVID-19” or “How to transform your business for a post COVID-19 world” – with your head being constantly turned in so many directions, it’s no wonder that sometimes it might seem easier to make no decision at all.

If you’ve read any of our previous posts, you’d know we feel very strongly about the fact that the most important part of any digital transformation is not the technology, it’s in fact the people, capabilities and processes that sit alongside the technology.

A recent article published by Forbes “Employees aren’t feeling the digital transformation love yet” underwent a survey which showed that managers and employees feel hiring, training and upskilling are the least successful elements of their company’s transformation.

Which is why we believe that one of the most important things for organisations to do is to take a moment to look at the impacts that any decisions you’ve made responding to COVID-19 have had on your people and processes, what capabilities and skills do you now need, what do you now require from your partners? We’re always here for advice on these very questions.