Going Digital in The COVID-19 Economy
COVID-19 has, and will continue to, create huge changes in how everyone worldwide goes about their daily lives, whether it is work, school, or play. As governments impose social distancing and shut down whole economies, people are turning to digital solutions to replace in-person contact, all in a bid to keep some semblance of normalcy. Going forward, this will generate many new opportunities, as some of these solutions will endure long after the pandemic passes. Companies that are able to utilize these solutions well, to keep going and reform their business models, will accelerate their digital transformation and gain a leg up on their competition. Here are four ideas to help businesses with the transformation of going digital in the COVID-19 economy.
Technology To Support Business Operations
In response to COVID-19, many companies gradually rolled out work from home policies for their non-essential workers; at this point, anybody who can work from home is. To facilitate this move to working from home, many technology companies have been providing access to cloud meeting and team collaboration tools. This has been in the form of lower fees or longer trial periods to provide companies around the world with the support they need to transition to a more digital workspace.
For example, Google is providing free access to advanced features of Hangouts that it usually charges a fee for, Microsoft has offered free six month trials of its top tier of Microsoft Teams, Zoom (after seeing significant stock increases due to recent events) has removed its 40 minute teleconference limit from its free basic plan. The facilitation that these companies are providing during this crisis will only help push the digital workspace transformation, especially as worldwide online infrastructure continues to expand and becomes more robust.
Recently, JaxonLabs has even received more requests for digital advertising from companies that didn’t otherwise focus on this avenue of promotion. These are all businesses that thought things were fine the way they were but now must look for a new way to reach potential customers. Cioffi’s Group, a food and grocery distributor, based in Burnaby BC, approached us at the end of March to launch a digital advertising initiative. After some research, both regarding the business and keywords, we implemented a strategy and have since been driving 600 new visitors a week to their website.
Another one of our clients is doing something great with technology in their industry. Salus Pro is a safety software company that works primarily with the construction industry to shift safety documentation procedures from a paper-based solution to a digital one. Since construction sites are still operational, they have decided as a company to pivot their model and offer their platform on a no-cost subscription for any business during the crisis. It’s both a great initiative as a leader in the industry, and it also opens up the opportunity for companies to take the necessary steps to make the switch during a time that safety is of paramount importance.
The Work From Home Balance
Working from home has been a hot button issue in past years as outsourcing, and online capabilities have increased. Employers have been wary of working from home or outsourcing entirely due to questions of cost, efficiency, quality, and accountability. On the other hand, employees are increasingly seeing the ability to work from home, at least partially, as a very real and valuable benefit when choosing an employer.
What recent events have shown, even if by force, is that working from home is a much more viable option than previously believed in the professional world. Companies are now investing in the technology and systems necessary right now so that they can bear the brunt of the economic impact as best as possible. We’ve seen a tremendous difference in productivity with clients and colleagues that had systems in place before the lockdowns started to come into effect. The ones with an established infrastructure are seeing minimal effects for their productivity workflow than those scrambling to adapt.
By putting in place the tools necessary to survive during the current and coming downturn, companies are also preparing themselves for a digital future. Another opportunity that is going to arise from these events is that companies are going to be able to really evaluate their need for an actual physical space to conduct business.
Retail businesses have experienced this for many years; brick and mortar stores have decreased as the number of online retailers has exploded. Businesses that capitalize on this opportunity will likely have a significant competitive advantage; digital accessibility will be key. Working from home may not become the norm, but what will happen is that many more options will be available for companies and employees in the future.
Lead With Remote Learning
While many universities and schools have had online and distance learning capabilities over the years, the capacity that they have had to provide to their entire student body is unprecedented. Schools across the world have had to close their doors and shut down campuses.
Now that all levels of education from kindergarten to post-secondary have made a move to virtual education, this has left the burden on teachers and administrators to ensure that students have the technology necessary to continue learning from home.
Although this change has been disruptive, especially on this timeline, the quick adoption of new distance learning technologies and systems will allow teachers to better educate their students and better prepare educators and institutions for the future.
Virtual Events Are Bringing People Together
As limitations on crowd sizes and social distancing persist for the near future, any events that rely on large crowds of people will continue to be dramatically impacted. Many businesses rely on conferences and conventions to exchange ideas and build valuable professional relationships.
Conferences are a trillion-dollar global industry, so finding a way to replace or supplement those events are crucial for many organizations moving forward. Companies are attempting to bridge that gap with many of the same systems that are being used to help employees work from home, combining video, networking, and more to hopefully secure the benefits of in-person events and the content and tech of virtual tools. This switch to more virtual events will optimistically push for future innovations in how people meet and cooperate in the virtual space.
Hopefully, after this pandemic has passed, the world can utilize the lessons learned to create a better working and living space for everybody. It is encouraging that out-of-the-box thinking is leading to serious, world-changing innovations. As a whole, humanity has an opportunity, unlike any other in history, to create a safer, healthier, and more modern world going forward for everyone.