Before the COVID-19 crisis, companies used digital technologies and automation primarily to improve efficiency and profitability. When we all had to rearrange our businesses — and our lives — it became crystal clear that digital takes us only so far.

The new reality is that we must combine the virtual and the physical while leveraging mobile technologies that people use every day. The table below illustrates common scenarios in the three phases of DMI’s digital-physical convergence paradigm.

The changes came in a flash. Buying fresh fruit online seemed unthinkable until it became mandatory. Working from home eliminated time-wasting commutes. Buying a laptop online and picking it up curbside an hour later gave brick-and-mortar retailers an edge over online competitors.