Experts Column

A Transition Into Digital Space

An A3 Foundation Journalism award winner n 2015-16, Ar. Himani is known for public speaking and country journalism.

As the novel coronavirus has taken the world in its clutches, people are scrambling to adapt to the new normal. What defines this new normal? Unifying elements include wearing masks, being wary of potentially crowded spaces, and the need to constantly keep our hands sanitized. There has been an increase in public awareness and scientific discoveries but it’s a long way to go before we can return to our previous lifestyles. One of the most glaring changes has been in the sphere of social interactions. Video calls and conferences are on the rise, and as in-person meetings are not safe, a lot of businesses are going digital. Like most offices, schools, institutions have moved to a digital platform, mankind was left with no option but to switch to digital.

The print media is no exception to this worldwide phenomenon which will go down in the history as ‘The Great Realization’. Digital magazines have been there for years now, they are as convenient and informative as their ‘print’ counterparts. It is also important to note that the magazines that have moved to a digital platform due to the pandemic, still produce the print version but since they can not print it at this time, they post it as pdfs on their websites. Though digital media will continue to grow at an alarming phase, it can not diminish the importance that print media has. It will always stay in demand due to the sense of authenticity attached to it.

This sudden impetus is a result of the ease of access that online media has in terms of a platform that is heavily used to showcase ideas & values. How the brain is affected by print is very different from and more powerful than how it consumes the digital. This is probably due to the sheer volume of the content available online and the fact that it can reach a lot of people within seconds. The print media, on the other hand, goes through a lot of filtering. The content that is being printed goes through a lot of people and is chosen from thousands of submissions. Digital media comes with a certain amount of comfort as it is more accessible, up to date, and has a far wider reach than print media, not to mention, in many cases, it is also cheaper. It is obvious that the world is moving towards a digital age as the whole world is in the palm of our hands. Not only has Digital Media made it easy for us to communicate with people from across the world, but it has also brought forward a lot of strong voices that remained unheard of before.

“Digital media comes with a certain amount of comfort as it is more accessible, up to date, and has a far wider reach than print media, not to mention, in many cases, it is also cheaper”

Shifting the focus towards digitization & exploring potential scenarios, many business owners have been forced to enable remote working or shifting to virtual events & conferences. As a consequence, this is an apt time to get creative. It won’t be long before this luxury turns into a modern-day necessity, the reason being an unprecedented rise in consumer attraction which in turn is fuelling growth in the digital media. Easy to understand content, unlimited access to family and friends via the Internet in addition to education, entertainment, and facilities like healthcare and e-commerce are major reasons for the consumer pull. Our government's initiatives & efforts to make India digital via the use of digital payment gateways as well as the efforts of marketers have played a crucial role in enhancing the distribution of their products and services.

Focusing on Architecture & other Design firms, there is an immediate need for them to be marketed properly or they won’t survive. With the help of proper communications specialists, firms will be able to withstand the financial crisis while maintaining their portfolios and building rapport with their clients. For an industry that relies heavily on firm-client interactions, they must transition into digital media. Put simply, the digital transition is about changing how a firm interacts with its clients and provides them with a consistent experience, despite all the challenges they face. If a client is not satisfied with your designs or creations, there must be a feedback system in place so that they can communicate effectively with you. If that is not possible, then your firm’s reputation will be at stake and all the hard work you have put in the firm will all be wasted away.

Now, the movement into the digital sphere is assertive and bold. As the initial phases of digital transformation are dynamic, don’t forget to keep on updating your systems so that the firms are at par with the current technological trends. Be responsive in real-time so that your responses seem much more natural to your clients which makes the user interface much more friendly to use. Identify what works for your company and stick to it, invest in data collection and analysis of clients to be sensitive to their needs, and observe how your clients are interacting with your firm. Fool proof your plans by hiring external services, a professional graphic designer, as well as a company that can manage all your portfolios and keeps your clients updated as to what your firm is up to. This might seem over the top but think of it as an investment for higher returns in terms of generating a buzz and staying relevant.

We learn the greatest lessons when we experience setbacks. Even though times are tough right now, and the availability of projects is at an all-time low, firms and companies have to adapt and overcome the unique challenges presented by the pandemic. They have to be flexible and creative. By gaining insights into your client base and their needs, digital transformation may just work in your favor.