Companies waiting for the end of the pandemic to return to a traditional business model may be disappointed. The pandemic has pushed us into the irreversible era of a contactless” economy, says Jamal Boukouray, Vice President of Business Development at Multidev Technologies and author of the book From Low Touch to Touchless : How the Contactless Economy is Poised to Shape Luxury Commerce & Remote Retailing in the New Normal? Interview.

All the experts agree, says the technologist.

Most consulting firms like McKinsey (1), Gartner, E&Y, Deloitte seem to agree on the crystallization of certain socio-economic and cultural habits that make the new era a springboard to the future.”

Overnight, consumers around the world adopted behaviours that were unthinkable until recently. Jamal Boukouray cites examples from various sectors of the economy.

One of our customers, who owns a jewelry store, now meets with his customers via video conference to present products, and customers buy without problems. On the Tmall luxury platform in China, people shop for $1 million worth of cars remotely. In Quebec, many have made offers on houses without visiting them. This is part of the new normal.”

For Jamal Boukouray, the digital transition is consummated; the concepts of “digital transformation” or “4.0” are no longer relevant; we live in a 5.0 society that is already largely dependent on the “contactless” economy.

Society as a whole has turned to technological tools to meet its most primary needs. Whether at work, at home, on social media, alone or with your family, digital technology has increased our capacities for production, fun, information sharing, learning and personalization of exchanges with everyone in the Google galaxy,” he says.

Little hope for those who resist

Jamal Boukouray admits that the new era is imposed in part by the giants of the Web.

Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook have imposed a rhythm on us. They are the ones who lead the dance. Now we need to be able to capitalize on these tools that are imposed on us.’

Given this fact, we can be concerned that a significant proportion of Canadian and Quebec business are lagging behind in the digital shift. In a survey last November, we learned that less than half of Quebec retailers who were without an e-commerce platform (48%); in Canada, 47% of SMEs continue to think that their business model “does not lend itself” to electronic commerce.

Those who are on the threshold of failure have no choice but to turn to the tools that made the success of those who managed to capitalize despite the health crisis”, answers Jamal Boukouray.

According to him, catching up is quite possible. The current “rupture” has this particular feature: it is made on a fundamentally “democratic” basis, because everyone is forced to participate.

In the past, digital transformation came from the top. It was a matter of CEO and senior corporate executives. But this time, people on the front lines were forced to turn the corner. As a result, digital adoption has been huge. Today, it’s no surprise that a small neighbourhood restaurant has a mobile app to take orders and deliver.”

From one day to the next, we saw digitization accelerate in the companies’ supply chain.

The Amazon model imposed a standard of delivery speed and accuracy. Several companies wanted to ensure that the consumer could get his delivery within a certain period of time. They were forced to update their technology tools to support their small handling team in their warehouse. There must now be a real synergy between the customer’s needs and the inventories that are in warehouses and stores.”

How far will digital deployment go?

Anything that can be optimized or done remotely without affecting the business’ profitability or viability will eventually be adopted.

Humans in search of experiences

What place will human beings remain in this digital society? What remains to be done in a largely automated society where artificial intelligence will perform 40% of current tasks?

To simply live experiences.

What we have experienced is not easy, concedes the digital transformation consultant. It is an experience that will mark all economic models in an undeniable and unprecedented way. The challenge for businesses is to now reach out to consumers. The whole economy of experience is still there, and it is still valid.

We will continue to go to the restaurant, to do sports, to see friends, in an “augmented” society that will aim to facilitate and embellish each experience.

The future has arrived a bit earlier than expected…” he concludes, visibly enthusiastic about the collective work that is opening up before us.

Reference

(1) The Next Normal arrives : Trends That Will define 2021 -and Beyond, McKinsey

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