Monday, 6 Apr 2020

TECH TO THE RESCUE FOR VIRAL-RELATED BUSINESS DISRUPTION

The coronavirus outbreak has hit businesses, small and large, in unprecedented, multiple ways.

Since the official news of the viral outbreak in late January this year, members of the public have been the spotlight for authorities who are anxious to contain the spread of the virus as well as issuing advisories so as to not overwhelm public health services when people are infected or fearful.

However, the impact of the viral outbreak on the business ecosystem became more pronounced when the outbreak crossed national borders and territories, causing major markets from Italy to South Korea and even in the United States, prompting businesses to rethink measures on how to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on business continuity.

    Is it business as usual?

    From a wider viewpoint, the coronavirus outbreak has hit the aviation, travel, tourism, leisure and hospitality industries hardest during the early stages as authorities identified travellers and travel itself as one of the main causes of the spread of the virus.

    Subsequently, manufacturing sectors have been both hindered and helped by the viral outbreak, depending on declines or rises in consumer demand for certain goods. 

    From a more detailed point of view, however, all businesses large and small have had to think about business continuity, adapting in the face of the viral outbreak.

    Business continuity – what are companies doing now?

    For some companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Airbnb, the practice of asking its teams to work from home has become both a pre-emptive and a necessary response and measure in the face of health advisories from authorities in containing the spread of the coronavirus and mitigating the risk of workers and employees being exposed to the virus, a more pronounced risk given the multinational nature of teams in many organisations.

    For some companies, daily temperature screenings at entry points to physical offices have become a new norm to monitor employees’ and worker health.

    While for other companies, monetary compensation has been offered to its hourly-wage workers whose earnings are adversely affected by a dampening of consumer sentiment.

    While salaried workers and managers will usually be paid during a business disruption, some companies have taken the extra step of incentivising workers with paid self-quarantine leave of up to two weeks, partly, also, to support social distancing measures during the outbreak.

    These are merely some of the measures undertaken by businesses in responding to the ever-evolving threat of the coronavirus. Some companies are looking into stimulus packages from respective governments to help with cash flow until operations are normalised.

      An upside: Tech helps to keep it ‘business as usual’

      Perhaps an unforeseen upside to businesses implementing ‘work-from-home’ or remote working practices is the realisation of how modern workforces rely heavily on technology to get work done.

      We are in an age where multiple technologies have enabled both business owners and workers – full-time and freelance – to ensure it is all business as usual.

      We take a look at how technology has helped business evolve and adapt to unpredictable times.

      Remote working – the new norm?

      Technology has been a boon for many workforces, teams and business sectors.

      Currently, with public health measures such as risk exposure reduction and quarantines in place, technology has helped teams work remotely, where possible, to ensure business carries on.

      For workers, email, video conferencing and VPN access to in-office systems (such as those for revenue management or even customer management systems) have become staple work tools that are possible thanks to broadband access.

      While not all business teams are afforded the ease of access or the simplicity of working remotely, there are still large numbers of teams who can work remotely using digital tools to get work done.
       

        These include digital content creation teams, management teams or back-end support function teams.

        The outbreak has inadvertently caused an increase in the use of videoconferences, virtual meeting and work platforms such as Skype, Slack and Zoho Meeting.

        These platforms go beyond simple team meetings – they are often used to conduct trainings, give presentations and even conduct interviews, more so in areas where complete lockdown of entire districts happen, such as in China and Italy.

        Tech solutions for remote work = efficiency 

        For remote working to work, firstly, reliable Internet access is a must, for both workers and businesses.

        Secondly, investing in professional and reliable suites such as the Microsoft 365 Business package is both a priority for business owners and chief executives in ensuring business continuity in the face of remote working as well as providing an ideal solution. It affords mobility of working for workers in times of necessity. 

        Such technology solutions allow workers and employees to undertake work-related tasks on multiple devices remotely, and it is a boon for small and medium-sized enterprises. Productivity and collaboration are possible on such software solutions, and as added bonuses such packages come equipped with device management and security.

        Other business software solutions from telco providers bring with them the assurance of network efficiency, flexible data sharing – crucial when you have numerous team members – and the ease of managing multiple user accounts. 

        As a chief executive or as a manager, investing in a business software solution or package also means you and your teams have a reliable service as well as professional technical expertise and support for periods of necessary remote work (such as public or government orders of restricted public movement) when you need work to run smoothly.

        In a business context, too, the rise in remote working leads to opportunities for developers to create, develop and improve such technology-assisted platforms and tools for remote working.

        For others, the use of technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) can potentially help in new ways – for example, the medical and scientific research ecosystems, in which companies use AI in imaging systems, allowing doctors to spot cases of the coronavirus almost immediately. 
         

          For a business owner or operations chief, technology presents both new forms of efficiency as well as new challengers, such as how to manage remote working teams.

          And while remote working teams may be performing as efficiently as if they were in a physical office, the rise in remote working also gives rise to a new area of concern – security over remote access.

          In this respect, cloud-based solutions exist to help you manage the business without interruption or disruption from cyber-threat or cyber-risk. For instance, the Celcom Business Solution package allows business heads the assurance of cloud-based platforms and secure servers, removing one less worry for executives when managing remote teams.

          No virus in business tech deployment

          While health experts predict that the viral outbreak may last until the end of this year, businesses have displayed the agility to adapt to changing circumstances, and in part technology has allowed both workers and management teams to continue to operate as close to normal as possible. 

          There are still many ways in which technology can evolve to help business and people adapt and be productive. With many solutions at hand, this is an opportunity to view the future of business with optimism

          Check out Celcom Productivity Suite for more information about the product.