As the coronavirus forced Aspen Dental Management to shutter its offices in March, the company quickly moved to connect patients with doctors virtually.\n\nBut a problem cropped up: Many patients didn't care for Aspen\u2019s self-service telemedicine portal. "For the most part, they abandoned it, so we said this is not going to work," says Yogish Suvarna, CIO of Aspen Dental Management, which provides business services for more than 830 offices.\n\nThe solution? Aspen quickly added call center representatives to broker virtual care sessions between patients and doctors. Problem solved.\n\nPivots such as Aspen\u2019s are playing out all over the world as the coronavirus roils industries forcing organizations to adapt more quickly to satisfy customer preferences, as well as technical and business hurdles.\n\nRapid-fire digital solutions built in sprints provides a schema for how IT organizations operate going forward, says David Clarke, digital strategy and innovation leader at PwC, adding that IT leaders should view the pandemic as a digital accelerator rather than a deterrent. Seventy-eight percent of CFOs PwC polled in July said they cut investments, though only 17 percent say those cuts extend to digital transformation, Clarke says.\n\nThe virtual-care pivot\n\nAspen, for instance, stood up a virtual care system in just 8 days. But patients, frustrated by the experience of inputting their personal and credit card information before connecting to their doctors via a video conference, quickly exited the portal. Aspen\u2019s call service reps were added to accept patient information before they met virtually with their dentists, who would determine whether treatment was required in the office.\n\nThe new process, akin to digital technology that consumers have become accustomed to using in banking and retail, helped patients gain confidence in the user experience, Suvarna says. It was a simple solution, but one that underscores the importance of identifying how a customer wants to conduct business with a company and adjusting to accommodate them.\n\nSuvarna's rapid-fire digital work continued into June, as Aspen digitized the check-in process to serve more than 4,500 patients daily. Previously, patients spent several minutes filling out paperwork in the waiting room, after which care representatives would manually input the data. Today, an Aspen representative scans their driver\u2019s license and insurance card at check-in, auto-populating the data into the patient management system. The patient reviews their personal information and the needed consent forms on an iPad before providing an electronic signature.\n\nThe contactless solution cut average check-in time in half to as little as 15 minutes. Aspen estimates the tool could eliminate more than 1,000 hours of non-patient support time per office per year. "There's no need to sit and fill out paperwork, which eliminated huge time in the front of the office," Suvarna says.\n\nOrdering up a contactless solution\n\nThe restaurant industry faced massive disruption due to social distancing. Few chains felt this pain more than Friendly's Restaurants, which shuttered 160 locations around the country in March. CIO Pete Gibson is actively evaluating contactless technologies that will help consumers safely engage the business. "We are working hard to go contactless," Gibson says.\n\nA key piece of this strategy entails creating a digital menu that customers can easily access from any connected device. Yet after landing on a solution that would enable customers to scan a QR code to view a menu online from their phones, Friendly's abandoned this approach because it was patented. So Gibson is endeavoring to make the menu available via a short URL. Gibson, who envisions Friendly's one day displaying menus on digital placemats, is also exploring mobile ordering and tap-to-pay solutions.\n\nWhile Gibson is scrambling to go contactless, earlier digital work is helping the company stay afloat. Under Gibson's direction, Friendly's in 2019 inked partnerships with UberEats, DoorDash, Grubhub and other delivery services, creating new revenue streams that helped offset the huge hit the chain took when its store couldn't host patrons.\n\nGibson attributed his team's success to the organizational culture, which he says has risen to the occasion since the outbreak's inception. He's also bullish because technological advancements are providing CIOs with more opportunities to deliver business value. "It's about how we apply our practice to add value and benefit the company," Gibson says.\n\nOverhauling the sales forecast\n\nThe COVID-19 outbreak threatened to disrupt Jaguar Land Rover\u2019s (JLR) supply chain, a global network comprising hundreds of suppliers.\n\nThe automotive company typically relies on sales forecasts cultivated years in advance to orchestrate its production lines, a delicate dance that required it to manage thousands of combinations of parts made by myriad manufacturers, says Harry Powell, director of data and analytics. Accuracy is paramount, as minimum buy volumes of parts are committed with penalties for not meeting the agreed upon volume.\n\nRecognizing that JLR\u2019s careful choreography wouldn\u2019t hold during the pandemic, Powell told business leaders that they could not longer rely on sales forecasts to which they were accustomed. \u201cI went around telling everybody that we were looking at this [challenge] through the wrong end of the telescope,\u201d Powell says. \u201cYou have to be more flexible in how you make things and have the ability to react to new information.\u201d\n\nThe analytics team needed to provide more timely analysis of the impact changes to the forecast orders would have on JLR\u2019s supply chain. Powell\u2019s team revved up its use of graph database software, which analyzes the relationships of entities \u2014 in this case parts and suppliers \u2014 to provide its business with more accurate analytics.\n\nThe software, from TigerGraph, detected when suppliers would fail to meet quota demands.\n\n\u201cWe used the graph to re-sequence how our vehicle orders were to be built in our factory in response to a supplier failure,\u201d Powell says. Queries across the supply chain model now take 30 to 45 minutes compared to weeks using SQL relational database software.\n\nThe bottom line: Key to all of these quick pivots is a high-quality culture that is comfortable with sustained change, PwC\u2019s Clarke says. CIOs have to be \u201cinclusive of the entire organization,\u201d bringing all employees along for the journey.