These are challenging times for most businesses. Those affected directly by forced closures or quarantines are the first to come under pressure, but soon after all related businesses, service providers and indeed the economy as a whole will bear the impact. That said, some organisations are better placed (or lucky) for this new reality. This is because social distancing and anti-virus measures all favour the use of technology and remote business over brick and mortar. The case for the cloud to run business operations has never been stronger and can help organisations weather the storm and emerge stronger in the inevitably different future landscape.
Remote Working on The Cloud
As pressure mounts on employers to allow staff to work remotely from home, a large number of organisations will face a challenge to keep their business running. Two things need to happen. Firstly, staff members must be able to connect to the business' software systems over the Internet from their homes. This must be done securely and efficiently to allow staff to perform daily and critical operations such as collect orders, respond to enquiries, process back-office transactions and payments etc. The second requirement is for customers to be able to bring you their business from their own home and over the cloud. This means your business must develop transactional websites and online services that allow customers to find out, view and purchase your product using their connected device (think mobile!). Only businesses that satisfy these 2 criteria can survive to prosper.
A modern, connected core software system is built from the ground up. In other words, it is hard to apply benefits such as remote working, cloud sharing and ecommerce, as an afterthought. A modern software system must be built around these concepts from the onset. Luckily, today key software solutions such as CRM and ERP are often cloud capable. Many other types of applications, such as office tools and collaboration are also easily available on the cloud (such as Microsoft Offer 365 and Google Docs). So should any other internal/bespoke software systems you may use within your organisation such as scheduling, inventory, messaging, ticketing etc. You may also need to invest in better infrastructure such as providing laptops, VPN networking and hot desks to empower a roaming workforce.
Our experience is that this transformation will entail investment but can also bring about radical cost reductions such as office space, transport costs and utility costs and salaries. It can also improve staff working conditions and morale due to a more flexible working environment and better tools.
Next, you must focus on customer centric functions that can be migrated away from channels such as a physical showroom, reception or phone onto a digital platform. By this we mean that your customers will now inevitably prefer to deal with your organisation through your website or phone app. This has been a growing trend anyway along the years, however this virus epidemic represents a significant shift which will stay well after the virus is gone. It is hard for companies that have invested heavily in premises and face to face facilities to think this way. It is even harder for businesses that depend on physical presence such as hotels and resorts, however even here, a lot can be done to reduce the need for physical contact and increase the digital touch points for customers, such as booking online and payments.
By thinking outside the current norm, your organisation may be able to change its offerings to satisfy the new types of demand, such as delivery services, online meetings and home trials. You may also look into creating incentives for customers who take up the new services, which may in turn result in lower processing costs for your business.
Winners and Losers
In conclusion, the Covid-19 outbreak and the economic damage it brings with it are somewhat beyond our control. Businesses must therefore find the resources and stamina to sustain the initial impact but also prepare their organisations for the new world that we will face afterwards. It may take many weeks or months, but we know that markets will bounce back, or even surge in the aftermath. As business decision makers, we must make the best of the situation and embrace change to improve our organisation and be ready to turn this undeniable gloom into opportunity.
How Can We Help?
At Webcraft we build and run in cloud-based business software that powers organisations of any size. Our clients make use of our WorkSpace Cloud platform to run their software systems including CRM, EPR, Ecommerce etc. Since our solutions are all cloud connected, we are ideally suited to help businesses with their digital transformation to face today’s challenges. Get in touch with us to learn more about what we can offer you and how we can assist your business through this time.