Preparing Business Tech for a Post COVID-19

by Jay Joyce, President/CEO - Apr 15, 2020

As quickly as the work from home directives came out in March 2020, business as usual changed. The U.S. workforce shifted to working remotely. Many businesses found themselves unprepared and without technology to pivot for this disruption, and it made a bad situation even worse.

Immediately customers were buying and needing to be serviced remotely, while sales and business teams were attempting to process orders and invoices offline without access to client paper files that were not on the cloud. There was also blocked internal servers and networks, failed internal processes and broken workflows.

Even well-organized businesses were not mega-prepared with internal and external business technology plans for a disruption of this size. Who would expect this to happen in the U.S.? Sudden disruption will drive businesses to invent better ways to work by introducing technology to solve these roadblocks. And some of the best business innovations are born from crises.

We identified three (3) major disruptions to businesses that were not prepared for COVID-19:

  1. They had no plan to send people home to work remotely;
  2. There were no customer service options for customers to "self serve" when the people went home;
  3. Lack of automated business processes stopped forward movement of projects, customer orders, shipping and payments.

Company leaders are planning now to transition employees and customers back into some new routine in the near term. But can we go back to the "old" process and technologies that were in place pre-COVID? What have we learned about how business technology affected the business in just one month? And how can we prepare our companies, employees and customers so that the next disruption will not affect our businesses like this one has?

Prepping Business Tech Post-COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic definitely stopped, delayed or accelerated changes in the workplace that were already underway. The use of automation will play a major role in how companies bring remote teams, customers and suppliers back together.

The entire remote work from home movement shocked many companies that had no plan. Business customers having to be isolated at home have quickly become accustomed to conducting business from laptops and smartphones. But this has left so many companies "in the dark" that had no customer technology in place to address an event like COVID.

Technology customer service experience and business process automation company The Idea People in Charlotte.

Top 3 Business Technology Focus Areas Post-COVID-19

  1. Customer experiences - customers want the same experiences that you do: they want their questions answered and their problems solved quickly.  Access to their own data is their top demand, by far. A suite of "self service" tools is their second demand. Advanced business intelligence (BI) and business analytics (BA) reporting tools from a client portal enriches those customer experiences. Customer service telephone calls are extremely expensive. Self-service customer portals are way less expensive and can increase value many times over the development investment.
  2. Automating internal workflows - identifying repetitive internal tasks, like data or order entry; connecting various software platforms together through APIs; organizing and managing incoming sales leads; managing inventory and customer change orders. Automating these internal workflows saves resources, reduces errors, improves data visibility and improves productivity. Plus the data is available for offsite usage when hosted in the cloud.
  3. Business process automation -  BPA is also known as digital transformation or business transformation. BPA is used to automate complex business processes. For example, BPA is used to increase service quality, contain costs and to improve service delivery. BPA can use AI, virtual reality and robotics to automate business processes. Employee training is a great example, especially with remote work teams. Virtual reality technology deployed in training will emerge as a prime use of BPA.

The common thread through all business technologies is shifting the data and hosted applications to the cloud. Preparing for business post COVID or preparing for the next disruptive event should definitely include the cloud. The business agility that the cloud offers every business makes foundational sense for remote teams, customers and security of data. But a company doesn't have to do all of these technology initiatives at one time. Take them one by one. Any improvement will see a return.

We believe the real gold in the lining of all this is the opportunity to leverage business technology to expand your business outside of geographic physical barriers. With strong internal workflows, automated business processes and great customer experiences, companies can accept business from just about anywhere at any time. And allocating the human resources to other tasks will save money, improve workflow and morale and make your company more profitable. And the reality of future-proofing the business makes real sense today because of the disruption that we're in.

If you would like to schedule a Zoom consultation or telephone call, please contact Jay Joyce at 704-398-4437 or email jay@theideapeople.com. Our company can help you with all of these business transformation services, custom software development, creative web design and focused B2B digital marketing.

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