In these unusual times, businesses find themselves relying more than ever on technology – not only to allow staff to continue working from home, but to trade online and remain in contact with their customers and target markets. On this basis, what can IT partners do to remain a trusted advisor whilst business at large navigates through this turbulent period? What issues should you be thinking about? What might the markets look like in the coming months and what can partners do to ensure relationships are maintained? Let’s take a look at some of the wider business issues.
Are you even online?
Online shopping is proving to be the saviour for many businesses currently and any new companies will see the clear need to have an online presence after seeing what is happening during lockdown. Whilst online shopping is already a significant aspect in many people’s lives, it has become massively important during the current coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, for many people, particularly those most vulnerable, it is indispensable for online deliveries of their groceries, household essentials and even luxury items such as new clothes. Businesses that have been quick to adapt to this new consumer landscape will be reaping the rewards accordingly. If you are not online, how can you reach your customers and how can you keep them informed when conditions can continually shift according to the latest policy or guidance? And even if you are online, are you using technology to your business advantage? For example, many food wholesalers who would have been previously unknown to the general public are now revamping their websites and ordering systems to be able to go direct to the consumer in light of losing their traditional customer base – pubs, restaurants, hotels etc. Those that acted quickly in this respect have now (at least partially) replaced their income streams.
Was security an afterthought?
The lockdown has meant that for many people, going to the office every day is a thing of the past. However, many companies will not have been used to dealing with such a suddenly massive remote workforce. Indeed, many will have deployed technologies to facilitate remote access in a hasty and sub-optimal fashion, with security potentially taking a back seat.
For example, as coronavirus lockdowns have moved many in-person activities online, the use of the video-conferencing platform Zoom has quickly escalated – in parallel with concerns about its security. With over a 500% rise in daily traffic to its download page, many security researchers have called Zoom a privacy disaster with widespread allegations of the company mishandling user data. In the aftermath of COVID-19 businesses will want to re-architect and properly secure these systems. Resellers can play a key role in helping their customers shore up their systems and be better prepared for the next business continuity challenge.
Are you in the cloud?
Businesses which remain agile and take advantage of the Op-Ex benefits of cloud computing will have a better chance of remaining sustainable during the pandemic. Resellers can play a pivotal role here by helping their customers to analyse their current business and help them adopt cloud computing where appropriate so as to free up capital expenditure in favour of the “rental” model of cloud.
A leaner workforce
Companies may not be able to operate with the same levels of staffing after the emergency is over and will need to maximise the productivity of a smaller workforce. Resellers can help here by advising their customers to investigate the benefits of automation tools, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Workspaces to remove repetitive tasks and lower the complexity of using IT for their employees.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the call for new ideas and actions. Under such conditions, innovation isn’t driven purely by the desire for novelty, but because of sheer necessity. Those businesses that demonstrate an innovative culture will be rock stars, because they will be able to identify opportunities to develop and implement new meaningful solutions. Use your knowledge and position as a trusted advisor to create more rock stars.
Now more than ever
If you listen to the pundits, the post COVID-19 world will be completely different from what we perceived as normality. It’s hard to argue that in many cases. In the midst of a crisis, it’s tempting to label any major disruption as ushering in a new normal. However, the new normal going forwards may be a lot more like the old normal than we think. Now more than ever it’s critical for partners to provide the support their customers want, and more importantly, need.