Is the COVID-19 Business Recovery About People or Technology?

by Jay Joyce, President/CEO - May 05, 2020

Seven weeks into COVID-19, this question could be grounds for one of those "I have no idea which way to go on this" discussions. Business owners and the C-suite are concerned about the heavy costs of carrying large teams of people through declining revenues and nervous client bases. And the thought of heavy investment into technology projects and infrastructure is not at the top of mind right now.

One thing is for sure. The business climate that we all knew prior to coronavirus has changed.

The coronavirus outbreak accelerated the evolution of work that was already in play inside many organizations. Remote work, moving systems to the Cloud, sharing data with clients and even video conferencing. On the other side, there are still hundreds of thousands of organizations that had no technology plan of action and were caught by surprise when all of this started. It is certain that this event will ultimately retool multiple industries, inside and out. There are no real answers right now as to how businesses will recover. This post is our view on what we see taking shape in business technology today.

How COVID-19 Business Recovery Will Affect People - Employees & Customers

The one aspect of business that concerns everybody is the protection of the largest assets a company has: the people - employees and customers. Every company's first thought when the pandemic began was "how do we protect our people and keep them safe as we send them home to work while we serve our customers?" Well, you needed a technology and workflow plan in place to make that happen. If you didn't, you can now write a book on what NOT to do.

But how will COVID-19 business recovery affect the people when they return to work? What could be new in how you service your customers?

  1. Working remote - this is both a people and a technology opportunity. You have employees, managers, customers, product and service workflows, billing/accounting, HR, etc. that can easily be adapted through the Cloud. Obviously, digital transformation enters this discussion. Transforming all of these internal and external people and processes into a seamless flow of connectivity solves current and future outage or pandemic issues. Migrating to the Cloud (technology) and eliminating silos (people) gives you a big win toward recovery.
  2. Solve customer service problems - this is both a people and a technology opportunity. Your customers should have the ability to "self serve" themselves through a client dashboard from anywhere in the world. They should be able to see all of the data in their accounts with your company, enter orders, view inventory, run reports, pay invoices, chat with customer service and do everything they need to manage their business with you. Transformation here brings various software platforms that you use together into one customer dashboard or CRM. Imagine the seamless relationships your customers will have when the next event or pandemic happens and there is no interruption to their account? Let your customer service and sales people use their resources to be productive in other areas of your company rather than chasing the same answers that technology can do in half the time. That is a big win toward recovery.
  3. Innovation-based business - this is both a people and technology opportunity. Every business can be an innovation-based business. Once all of your team members and customers get back into a regular routine of work, a new rhythm of business will naturally occur. Customers and employees would already have become more accustomed to conducting business on laptops and handheld devices. Accessing company files, emails and notes should now move to a central digital platform. People are carrying what they learned working remotely back into the workplace as their "new normal." The pandemic, believe it or not, has forced us all to accept new digital work patterns that need to change outdated internal processes. We have to introduce innovation into our businesses to help make our people and customers more connected and productive while creating better experiences with our company brands. This transformation is a big win toward recovery. Business transformation and innovation recovery with flexibility with The Idea People in Charlotte, NC.
  4. Adaptability - again, this is a people and technology opportunity. All people have experienced problems during this pandemic. Company owners, managers, employees, customers, suppliers, family members, etc. Somehow we are all adapting to the incredible speed of change that our worlds are going through. Conditions change daily. The future will look different. How will every company adapt to this crazy speed of people and digital evolution in a matter of months? We're survivors. Think of how quickly we have already adopted new routines and practices. We adapt quickly.

Technology's role is for the people to use it to create new experiences to adapt to the current situations. You may have even noticed that the resistance to digital change and adoption within your company vanished quickly back in March. The "we're all in this together" sentiment really rings true inside families and companies. This very short period of time has changed the face of all types of companies.

We think that the COVID-19 business recovery is about people and technology. Probably more about people and the changing of preconceived notions and practices. The pandemic is testing each of us in different ways, hopefully not in an unhealthy manner. Companies and employers will be more flexible to the needs of employees and customers. At the same time, employees and customers should be more flexible to employers. Remember, we're all in this together, right?

The really big piece about transformation for companies is that the technology and people combination opens marketplaces across the state, country or globe for access to top talent, more customers and different opportunities. If we can help your company with strategy and technology development along the way, please contact Jay Joyce at jay@theideapeople.com or 704-398-4437.

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