The COVID-19 pandemic has put the whole world into a state of fear and distress. Businesses of all sizes and types are grounded. There is also fear of an impending recession, the effects of which are already visible across the global economy.
Right now, the challenge before every business is not figuring out how to resume operations. Instead it is to survive this threatening situation. Social distancing, nation-wide lockdowns, disinfection processes — there are several reactive measures of COVID-19 that have frozen business operations.
In addition, there are several challenges that make it difficult for businesses to continue their operations smoothly:
- Protecting the well-being and safety of customers and workforce
- Rewiring the supply chain to prevent any form of contamination
- Plummeting sales due to declining global economic activity
- Operational difficulties in moving physical operations to digital mediums
- Travel prohibition that is restricting face-to-face meetings and interactions
In this scenario, what key actions can a business take right now to survive?
Here are some possibilities:
Switch to direct to consumer applications
The time has never been better to think of new ways to reach and serve customers. Since the workforce and supply chain route to reach customers is out of the question, businesses can take up direct to consumer applications with the help of digital technologies.
Some examples of direct to consumer applications include:
- FAQs or self-service portals for customer service
- Chatbots in place as help desk agents
- Mobile apps for support ticket raising
- Contactless payments for financial transactions
- Remote working facilities for the workforce
The striking feature of these direct to consumer applications is that they can migrate existing analog-based customer habits to digital platforms. Prolonged use of these digital platforms will create new habits in them which will continue even after the crisis situation ceases to exist.
Restrict human intervention
The COVID-19 outbreak curve climbed north due to the uncontrolled physical contact. So will be the case when teams have to work together in close quarters. The risk is maximum in workplaces where people from diverse backgrounds assemble to perform operations that need proximity.
This risk can be reduced to a certain extent with the help of automation technologies that reduce the workload on the physical workforce and thereby reducing the need for working in physical spaces in close quarters. For example, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) can help process various customer forms that otherwise require physical handling of documents, manual entry, and retrieval of information, etc.
Further, RPA can also aid in segmenting and prioritizing a high volume of customer service requests, enhancing call center responsiveness to incoming calls, preparing and even enabling a remote workforce to work with agility.
Outsource support & maintenance
As mentioned earlier, one of the challenges of COVID-19 or any other crisis is that it hampers the fluidity of support and maintenance activities. The restriction on physical movement combined with the lack of direct interaction limits support and maintenance activities.
As a digital transformation company, Suyati has been helping businesses, enterprises and SMBs alike to tackle uncertain situations effectively. We have assembled a team of support and maintenance professionals who are fine-tuned to work in DevOps cycles.
DevOps-based support and maintenance activities help restore fluidity to the business. It breaks down a large process-oriented goal into tiny chunks of activities called sprints, each with its own owner or group of owners who are accountable for specific results. This form of distributed task management can work even if there is minimal direct interaction.
Drive cost optimization
Even during a crisis, businesses still need to pay fixed expenses like rent, salaries, insurance, etc. This creates an undue financial strain for a business that is already reeling under the pressure of plummeting sales and an uncertain future. Naturally, every business would turn towards cost optimization strategies that will help keep costs lower while sustaining operational efficiency.
This is where dedicated global teams (DGT) can help. DGTs are basically distributed workforces who can co-ordinate virtually to attain a common goal. Unlike the traditional form of outsourcing, dedicated global teams can offer more competitive advantages to a business that goes beyond cost optimization; especially in a crisis-like scenario.
DGTs offers business advisory that is strongly grounded on thought leadership, technology consulting, product engineering and digital transformation capabilities. This model has dedicated teams segmented for each global operation that helps scale efficiencies and manage challenges in an organized manner. Furthermore, compared to other resource hiring models, DGTs are relatively inexpensive, more flexible and have faster deployment rates.
Final thoughts: Ensuring business continuity during a crisis
When a crisis shows little signs of slowing down, businesses must start looking for business continuity measures. Even a few weeks of inactivity can put the business in jeopardy.
Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet that can ensure business continuity. However, there are some effective measures that can help. Businesses that were postponing digital transformation initiatives considering it to be ‘too early’ will now have to join the bandwagon ASAP. Manual operations will have to be moved to the digital model to continue business operations. To curtail physical contact and to minimize human intervention, businesses will have to turn towards novel technologies like RPA.
Similarly, process-based working models like DevOps will take center-stage as they help connect virtual teams effectively. The option of virtual teams will also enable businesses to look for offshore services with competitive advantages.