The new coronavirus outbreak has posed multiple challenges in several areas, including business, education, entertainment, etc. For business owners, continuous innovation and technology adaptation can salvage an organization from decline. But without a concrete continuity plan, businesses are stuck with relatively obsolete techniques that may not cope with the pandemic.
A whole new business approach reveals in front of the eyes of many organizations. The current COVID-19 pandemic has proven the worth of information systems and digitalization. Numerous corporations, especially leading businesses, have modified their methods of communication and transaction with clients and employees. Presumably, the competition is still tight among organizations that keep adaptive and flexible policies.
Indeed, some businesses continue to thrive despite the lockdowns here and there. Consequently, these business owners provide us with a glimpse of hope during these trying times. But what exactly sets these businesses apart?
Information Technology: Key to Embracing the New “Normal”
Sugan Palanee, a renowned business development leader, believes that “with every downside, there is an upside.” This statement proves to be true as the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the world profoundly into a digital era. Information technology not only opens the door of possibilities, but it also opens our eyes to the opportunities it brings. We have proven that despite limited outdoor activities, we can sustain businesses and support our lives.
These technological innovations are what keeps booming businesses running during the pandemic. By building a robust IT system, they have stayed in touch with their business partners, clients, and subordinates.
To get a grip of what makes a business propel amid the pandemic, here are the highlights of this blog:
- Using Risk-Mitigating Technologies
- Redefining Business Policies
- Restructuring Designs
- Building Scalable Infrastructure
- Increasing Risk Perception
- Keeping Ingenuity and Flexibility
USING RISK-MITIGATING TECHNOLOGIES
The current global situation has forced businesses to be “smarter.” We’ve seen corporations embracing remote work environments, which was traditionally considered to be too costly. In simpler words, the COVID-19 crisis leaves several organizations with no choice but to innovate. Furthermore, these innovations come in many forms and in various fields, including healthcare, e-commerce, entertainment, and more.
For instance, some places in China have developed robots to deal with patients in hospitals. These artificial innovations deliver medications, collect bed sheets, and keep records of a patient’s health. On the other hand, retail companies are adopting drone programs that carry items ordered online by the public. Amazon, for one, launches the “Just Walk Out” platform that uses artificial intelligence to bill customers. Also, some of us may have witnessed entertainers, museums, and galleries conducting online performances and tours.
However, these risk-mitigating technologies may vary based on the nature of the business, location, and the market. The contagion unevenly affects the populations, and the risks in some areas may not be as serious in others. Another, business owners must decide on how much and what to invest in these risk-mitigating innovations. Moreover, they may also have to modify their products and services based on the public’s shifting needs. Putting these factors together, these technologies depend on the crisis’s length and the fear of a new contagion wave.
Hence, if the crisis carries on longer than we expect, risk mitigation may become a long-term change. We might find ourselves in new market behavior and demands. Not only can this affect the free market and business operations but also policymakers and regulators. Until we have a definite timeline of the crisis, we must maintain adaptive mechanisms to keep businesses going.
REDEFINING BUSINESS POLICIES
Consumers are now exposed to the digital experience in making business transactions, getting entertained, and pursuing education. Hong Lo of the Harvard Business School believes this can shape consumers’ purchasing behaviors in the future. Employees may also show differences in their preferences about which environment to work in. Some prefer working at home, and some don’t. And while the public reveals diverse preferences, businesses can see as valuable opportunities.
As the demand for new products increases, organizations and agencies must be keen on the current policies. Business policymakers should look at the implications of the crisis to wages, employment statuses, and customer satisfaction. Though we can expect significant market demand shifts, some consumers may not jump to the bandwagon. A market segment might prefer physical transactions and is willing to pay a decent amount for safe products. Thus, a combination of short and long-term policies can shed light on multiple businesses. Particularly, innovative responses can result in better employee satisfaction and customer experience.
In general, policymakers need to weigh the skyrocketing demands for technological innovations. This way, they can make informed decisions to keep the business running and use available resources to their advantage. Additionally, they should also look into the debates about certain measures taken during the pandemic. For one, some oppose temperature screening and tracing physical locations due to privacy and data protection issues. Some also doubt the capacity of other countries to invest in modern technological solutions.
The COVID-19 crisis has made organizations rethink their business models. Businesses are taking bold initiatives to retrofit their operational structure in favor of the shifting needs of consumers.
Several gaps are found to appear in addressing the new market demands using “old” methods. For instance, educational institutions make learning available remotely to students in their homes. Healthcare providers now offer teleconsultations to keep in touch with their patients without meeting in person. Even event planners have organized virtual occasions for various types of celebrations. Despite the cost issues, many believe that these platforms are cost-effective and can transform how the market works.
The real estate industry is also feeling the impact of the crisis as businesses implement remote working environments. If the current home-based set up becomes a viable option, some businesses may no longer have to secure office spaces. Nevertheless, leading real estate brands keep thriving with digital transactions. By marketing sustainable smart buildings, these companies still lead the competition in the real estate business.
Out-of-the-box innovations along with creative thinking also tend to flourish among businesses. Existing 3D printers, for example, have taken steps to support healthcare front liners by printing vital components of medical supplies. These initiatives benefit not only businesses but also communities.
One of the most popular redesigning of customer interaction is in the banking industry. Economists have pointed out the decrease in the use of cash amid the pandemic. With this, financial institutions are improving their online platforms to assist clients with various transactions. Indeed, most economic activities during the outbreak happen over cyberspace. As such, developing a more stable, convenient, and user-friendly site can help banks gain a competitive advantage during the crisis.
BUILDING SCALABLE INFRASTRUCTURE
While some face limitations in their operations, other businesses are still open and continue leveraging their resources for their clients. With the help of a robust information technology infrastructure, these organizations have kept the pandemic damages to a minimum. Especially when implementing technology organization-wide, business owners see positive outcomes in their current operations.
However, technology itself may not address the growing number of business concerns brought by the global health crisis. From retail to health care and other areas, business owners and professionals face a new set of problems. Nobody expected the pandemic to arise suddenly, and businesses are forced to take unprecedented steps to keep running. Some organizations may have to deal with unprepared hands to adapt to the rapidly changing market demands. But with every downfall humanity experiences, there’s one good thing that comes with it － ideas!
When applied and thoroughly planned, ideas can be a tremendous tool to innovate and create modern solutions. For instance, innovative ideas can build a flexible infrastructure to support customer interaction and employee management. In fact, businesses with existing software resources tend to dodge the bullet. Nonetheless, other organizations can still come up with concrete strategies to gradually reduce the economic damages brought by the crisis.
Building new infrastructure also accommodates the needs of businesses, the workforce, and consumers. Despite numerous organizations pulling back from their marketing efforts, they can still keep in touch with their prospects. An Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report reveals that 9 out of 10 consumers want brands to take action. Similarly, more than half of the surveyed says that they may consider purchasing products if brands address COVID-19-related concerns.
INCREASING RISK PERCEPTION
Analyzing accidents and other unwanted risks can deduce safe practices that can last in the long run. Especially in health care, public attention of the pandemic allows businesses to invest in safety features for their products. In any market setting, consumers are willing to pay for safety and convenience. This concept raises the demand for risk perception for the public.
Increasing risk perception involves reassessing business options that affect risk-mitigation strategies. For example, retail stores are now installing glass shields in the groceries, take-out, or at the check-out areas. By understanding how policies promote safety for consumers, the public gets more enticed to engage in business with you.
Exploring the consequences of previous health crises also provides essential ideas of risk perception. Business experts believe that product failures can be fatal, but they can also be a ground for innovation. For instance, in 2009, the FDA investigated thousands of CT devices after reports of radiation disasters. Patients in Los Angeles suffered from continuous hair loss following CT scan procedures. The initial assessment revealed that patients had radiation overdose, which increases the risk of cancer.
The incident caught the eye of numerous publications across the country. For one, the New York Times published 20 investigative articles detailing similar cases in other hospitals. Later, dozens of families filed lawsuits, and the Congress called for radiation safety hearing. The case of these patients shed light on the issues of healthcare devices and led a spike in risk perception. Government agencies, research centers, and tertiary institutions started a revolutionary initiative to improve medical safety dramatically.
KEEPING INGENUITY AND FLEXIBILITY
Technological innovations will never succeed without effective leadership. One way to ease the effects of the pandemic is to streamline business policies for a more flexible working environment. But regardless of global status, positive leaders can drive growth and insurmountable success rates.
Ensuring open and consistent lines of communication draws opinions from all members of a team. This approach to leadership encourages employees to join healthy discussions among peers and contribute unique ideas. Goal-oriented leaders facilitate equal sharing opportunities for subordinates and arrive at concrete plans that can benefit the entire organization.
Business managers should also consider maximizing available collaborative channels to promote a well-coordinated working experience. Employees who feel disconnected may eventually become demotivated. Many tools are available to support performance among employees and gamify the learning process. For example, leaders can initiate engaging and fun games now and then keep in touch with their employees. You don’t have to worry about detaching your team from the work itself for a couple of minutes. Studies show impressive results in productivity and overall performance when using creative leadership ideas.
The nudge theory also assumes great results for your team. This concept is similar to a positive reinforcement approach that focuses on giving subtle suggestions for employees. Instead of calling out names when they fail to complete tasks, you can use positive affirmations. Share encouraging feedback from other team members and admin officers. Congratulate employees who have completed tasks with high-quality results. There are more ways you can engage your team to become individually motivated. Remember that your strength as a leader lies in how you manage your people.
How Do You Attain These Goals Effectively?
More and more resources have popped up online to help businesses operate digitally. The law of supply and demand has produced various tools you can use to connect with your prospects and employees. Whether you have a unique model or rely on third-party apps, you can still run your organization remotely.
The following are some tools to keep you connected with your clients and colleagues:
- Google Drive
Slack (Chatting and Messaging App)
Slack is a software application that offers a virtual office setting for businesses. The app’s features provide seamless connectivity among team members and departments within an organization. Furthermore, Slack allows you to integrate thousands of external apps into the system.
Hence, several businesses have trusted Slack in keeping a stimulating work environment. This app is also great for bloggers and freelance workers.
Some alternatives to Slack include:
- Google Hangouts
- Microsoft Teams
Zoom (Video Conferencing App)
Zoom is a business-friendly platform that connects individuals wherever they are. This tool helps you collaborate with peers and prospects with its unique features. For one, the app can show facial expressions, which allow you to see how a person reacts to your opinion. No wonder SEMrush data shows impressive growth in a short span. Due to high demand, Zoom’s worth has increased by 50% in just a week. In one month, the app’s traffic also rose by 108%.
A few alternatives to Zoom include:
- Google Hangouts
- Cisco Webex Meetings
Evernote (Project Management Tool)
Evernote is a productivity tool available in all types of devices, including tablets and smartphones. Known as the “personal digital assistant,” Evernote helps ease your operations. The tool enables you to oversee your projects in one place and synchronize data across different operating systems.
With Evernote, you can:
- Delegate tasks with ease
- Collaborate with your team members
- Customize a content calendar
- Take notes seamlessly
- Create personalized to-do-lists
Meanwhile, you can also take advantage of alternatives, such as:
- Google Sheets
- Google Excel
Toggl (Time Management Tool)
Toggl ensures efficiency and productivity, whether for freelancers, bloggers, or employees. This management tool helps you keep up with deadlines and maximize your time. The app is an easy-to-use time tracker that keeps you focused on your delegated tasks and remove distractions.
The tool has a timesheet calculator that summarizes the amount of time you can work every day. Also, the app allows you to monitor your progress and reminds you when to go on break.
Some alternatives to Toggl include:
Google Drive (File Sharing and Cloud Storage)
Google Drive provides businesses a sustainable space to safely store and organize essential files. With the Internet, this tool also lets you share your data with your members regardless of their location. Having a cloud storage system gives your team uninterrupted access to all shared files in various formats.
By signing up to Google, you can already have a free 15 GB storage. But you can increase this capacity as soon as you upgrade with one of Google’s plans.
Several alternatives to Google Drive include:
- Canto DAM
Zapier (Workflow Automation Tool)
Even without a background in programming, Zapier helps you automate your business workflow like a programmer. This software application also lets you integrate several apps into a primary system, such as:
- Google Sheets
- Google Docs
- Facebook Lead Ads
With automated workflow, you can manage your operations in one portal and organize the necessary files.
Dashlane (Password Manager)
Typically, an ordinary individual today may own several online accounts. However, remembering the password for each account may be painstakingly stressful. Dashlane is one of the best password managers out there. This tool lets you log-in to your account in a few clicks and is secure, encrypted, and user-friendly. So you don’t have to worry about recalling your usernames and passwords.
The app is also available as an extension for Firefox, Safari, and Chrome.
Dashlane’s top alternatives include:
- True Key
Wrapping Up These Digital Tools
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, many employees opt to work from home temporarily. However, this work setting may become a long-term option for businesses, workers, and freelancers. Hence, adopting these innovations can do wonders to keep the economic activities in check.
Despite the challenges we are facing, the tools listed above can help your operating systems running. The “new age” of digitalization has become the new normal for many of us. Restrictions are still in place, and the call for safety measures still reverberates. But nothing can stop humanity to learn, grow, innovate, and communicate. With tangible and collaborative plans on the table, we can use the crisis to our own advantage.
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