The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the technology industry in ways both good and bad. Which companies will thrive as we begin to put the pandemic behind us?
Surprisingly, the answer is those companies that permanently embrace the changes imposed on them by the pandemic. Tech companies that are hoping for a return to “normal” are going to be disappointed.
This is no time for nostalgia for 2019. The risks and opportunities are too great.
Transformation is the key to success in 2022 and beyond.
Yes, the pandemic accelerated digitalisation in businesses of all sorts. But digitalisation is not just about using technology, as IBM pointed out in a report about the future of business earlier this year.
The lowest-impact technologies are simple tools that enable greater efficiency at discrete tasks. Still, technology executives with more vision are going beyond such small steps to embrace solutions that enable the transformation of their entire organisations.
What does this mean in the real world? In the real estate industry, it is the difference between a virtual tour and robust CRM software. The former is just an improved version of property photos. Virtual tours add some functionality, but organisational transformation? No.
On the other hand, adopting the best CRM software, like VaultRE, a top offering from Australia, can completely transform a real estate agency. A good CRM will integrate previously siloed parts of your business, multiplies the value of your data, and frees your team members to focus on the things they most enjoy and that create the most value.
Even technology industry leaders can be myopic when it comes to digitalising their own operations. You might sell the world’s most advanced product in your field but fail to take full advantage of what technology can do for the way you run your business.
This is what one insider meant when he described Apple as “Jetsons on the outside and Flintstones on the inside.” Apple’s phones and computers are marvels of innovation, but it was only recently that Apple employees gained the ability to chat with one another on a tool such as Slack or Teams.
E-commerce eats the world
Famously, e-commerce giant Amazon started out selling books. E-commerce today, however, is eating the world. It is not just books or fast food anymore. In the post-pandemic era, all goods and services are moving towards e-commerce or the omnichannel model.
When I say “all goods and services,” I do mean “all.” Whether your business is fashion, architecture, or healthcare, a growing portion of your customers and clients demand the ability to buy and receive your goods or services through digital platforms.
You can embrace this change and thereby improve efficiency, profitability, and scale. Or you can resist it and lose out to competitors.
Exactly how you transition from in-person to omnichannel will depend on your business and your industry. Whatever method you adopt, make sure you focus on the key performance metrics of convenience, customer retention, and fulfilment.
Let’s look at healthcare as an example because it is the industry that most observers expected to be the last to go online. Thanks to the pandemic, the remote delivery of health care is now an everyday reality worldwide.
Consumers now expect to see their doctor or nurse when it’s convenient and safe, whether that means going to the doctor’s office, been visited at home or being served remotely.
Experts believed that patients would not be satisfied with remotely delivered healthcare because they would insist on warm interaction with another human. However, the reality of the healthcare industry is that the quality of the patient experience at healthcare visits is far below what it once was. It turns out that remotely visiting your doctor does not necessarily compromise the quality of the interaction.
This is why consumers using virtual visits climbed in the USA from 15 to 28 per cent between 2019 and April 2020. It’s why 80 per cent of consumers who have tried a virtual visit say they are likely to do it again, even after the pandemic makes in-person visits possible.
You may feel there is no way for your business to adopt an omnichannel model like healthcare has. However, if you don’t solve the challenge of this transition, without a doubt, one of your competitors will.
If your doctor can treat you remotely, then surely many of the team members you employ can also do part of their jobs from home.
A Boston Consulting Group survey in the first quarter of 2021 found that nine out of 10 people globally want to work remotely on an ongoing basis at least part of the time.
The surveyors interviewed 209,000 people in 190 countries. They found that relatively few people want to work from home full-time.
The US is the only developed country to be an exception to this rule, with more than one-third of Americans seeking 100 per cent work from home status.
In Asia, only eight per cent of Chinese workers say they would be willing to work from home full time, and China ranks 43rd out of 45 countries on the list of fully remote work preferences. The Philippines has the highest preference for full-time or occasional remote work, with only about three per cent of the population wanting to be in the office full-time after the pandemic.
In Malaysia, two-thirds of respondents would prefer occasional remote work. Almost four out of every five respondents want to work at least part of the time remotely in nearby Singapore.
The preference is not limited to coders and consultants. Still, it is shared by people in professions where working from home has not traditionally been an option, including services, manufacturing and social care.
The lesson for technology businesses that want to thrive after the pandemic is clear. Give your workers the flexibility and autonomy to choose a schedule that lets them work from home at least part of the time.
You may be surprised by the results. According to a recent academic paper, the increase in remote work is expected to boost post-pandemic productivity in the US economy by five per cent.
What role will your physical office play in a world where many of your staff work two or three days a week from home? Rather than simply a warehouse for people, your office can become a space for collaborating and problem-solving.
The experience of messaging app company Slack is indicative. Slack considers the office one tool in their toolkit and suitable for getting specific work done. Their team members might come into the office three times a week with plans to meet with colleagues and brainstorm or collaborate in person.
Organisational transformation, omnichannel delivery and flexible remote working strategies are three strategies that will help nearly every technology company thrive after the pandemic in 2022 and beyond.
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