Will COVID-19 Drive Digital Transformation in the Supply Chain?

Post-COVID-19, businesses and organizations will accelerate their digital transformation roadmaps with urgency that may be reminiscent of the lead-up to Y2K.


Businesses and organizations across all verticals have been advancing digital transformation initiatives for several years. In 2018, for example, Tech Pro Research found 70 percent of businesses said they had developed a digital transformation strategy or were working on one. In 2019, IDC projected that 40 percent of all tech spending was allocated for digital transformation. Grand View Research valued the global digital transformation market at $284.38 billion in 2019 and predicted growth from 2020 to 2027 at a CAGR of 22.5 percent.

In 2020, however, in light of maintaining productivity during a pandemic, many business leaders reassessed their timelines for digital transformation — they realized it isn’t happening fast enough.

Jake Sorofman, President, MetaCX, explains:

Why has the COVID-19 crisis accelerated the push toward digital transformation?

Sorofman: This crisis has caught many business leaders flat-footed. They certainly recognized that it was inevitable, but there wasn’t this sort of existential urgency to transform that many companies are feeling right now. Most visibly and obviously, this digital transformation encompasses the customer experience, the way people interact and how work gets done, and business models themselves.

But I’d argue that there’s a more fundamental transformation that this crisis will accelerate: the relationship between suppliers and buyers — from one that’s based on promises to one that’s based on proof. As budgets contract and companies hold spending to higher degrees of scrutiny, today’s subscription economy will give way to tomorrow’s performance economy where measurable proof becomes the basis by which customers buy and renew.

How can digital transformation hold all parties in the supply chain accountable?

A true digital transformation creates trust and transparency between suppliers and buyers, helping each party to align on a shared definition of value and a way to measure that it’s been achieved. This is the role of MetaCX. Historically, there’s been a reticence to provide this level of transparency because of a fear of what it may reveal with respect to outcome achievement and value delivery. I think the post-COVID-19 world will be one of transparency, born of necessity, and toward the goal of shared accountability between suppliers and buyers.

If organizations don’t learn lessons from the current crisis and advance digital transformation in response, what could the impact be on their businesses?

Companies that don’t figure this out will, indeed, be existentially threatened. Clayton Christensen popularized the idea of creative destruction, which suggested that resilient companies are constantly challenging the “as-is” with active investments in the “to-be.” His point was that every company needs to learn to disrupt itself or else face the reality that it will eventually be disrupted. Those that don’t lean into their own transformation will find themselves weakened and vulnerable as the world changes around them.

What opportunities has the urgent need for digital transformation created for software developers?

The urgent need to transform for the purpose of business continuity will create jobs and opportunity for IT not unlike the scramble for Y2K preparedness. Only this time, we’ll also face the headwinds of a global economic recession. This means that the need for these skills will be higher than ever, but the appetite to spend may be more constrained than we’ve seen in the past.

Those who thrive in this environment will have differentiated themselves through some combination of breadth of skills and experiences, personal brand, and flexibility. My theory is that professional services and gig economy workers will see increased opportunities in this environment as companies look to substitute hiring of full-time employees with the more flexible cost structure of contract and project-based work.

We don’t entirely know what’s around the corner, so companies will want to have the agility to throttle back as circumstances dictate. 


Jake Sorofman is president of MetaCX, the pioneer in a new outcomes-based approach for managing the customer lifecycle by transforming how suppliers and buyers collaborate and win together. Previously, Jake was CMO of Pendo and chief of research at Gartner. His writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including Forbes, Inc., and Harvard Business Review. Jake holds a bachelor’s degree in English and political science from University of New Hampshire, an MBA from Bentley University, and a Master of Arts from University of North Carolina. For more information on MetaCX, please visit www.metacx.com/, and follow the company on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Mike Monocello

The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of DevPro Journal.

Mike Monocello

The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of DevPro Journal.