The emergence and dramatic spread of the Corona virus has impacted societies and economies around the globe. Enterprises, production facilities, supply chains, schools, regions and complete countries have gone into lock-down and come to a stand-still. Get togethers – from small meetings and class room gatherings to very large events and exhibitions – have been cancelled.
More than ever this makes one realize how interconnected and interdependent we have become and how crucial it is for all cogwheels of society and enterprise to keep turning. So what are the lessons learnt and how can organizations harness themselves to address the challenges and overcome the effects of a pandemic virus outbreak or similar impactful events in future?
Ensuring business continuity proactively
Smart Enterprises ensure business continuity and adopt digital workplace strategies that not only allows them to react appropriately when disaster strikes, but also empowers them with workstyles and business processes that proactively protect from detrimental impact of possible calamities.
Here are some of the key take aways from recent events and focus areas for organizations – whether private enterprise or public institution – to realize in taking measures in order to be better prepared moving forward.
Communication is instrumental in every aspect of business and society – from addressing business as usual to coping with exceptional events. Whether it is to discuss internally, to inform or instruct communities or individuals, to mobilize groups or to call in expertise, voice, video and messaging are powerful and indispensable tools. State of the art technology enables sophisticated communications that includes all types of media and interaction. Furthermore, increasingly, a company’s coherency and ability to react to market dynamics is determined by the structure, intelligence and reliability of its communications network and its communications processes.
Making staff reachable and therefore omnipresent and ‘always on’, is key for organizations to operate efficiently and effectively, whatever the circumstances. Company-wide solutions include private wireless networks, messaging and alarm notification. These can be linked with specific applications such as workflow management, nurse call systems, fire alarm systems, building management systems.
A mobile but omnipresent workforce makes businesses more agile and provides faster, better responses to co-workers, suppliers and customers and enables the organization to swiftly respond to business dynamics. Enhanced mobility requires users to have access to sophisticated communications features across desktop phones, mobile devices and soft clients.
A key strategy for many of organizations is to use cloud meetings and team collaboration solutions instead of in-person meetings. Unified Communications & Collaboration with tools such as instant video conferencing, shared workspace, team collaboration, calendar coordination and rich presence, drives productivity across organizations. This reduces latencies and creates informed and connected workplaces. It allows disparate teams to work together in real time and enable individuals to interact efficiently and effectively with co-workers, clients and suppliers.
All this enable businesses to provide the highest levels of customer service and keep colleagues connected by means of single number reach, remote worker/home office support, web based conferencing and sophisticated team collaboration. With conferencing and file sharing made easy, collaboration becomes the de facto standard for office communications, eliminating the need to travel to meet in person.
In Education for instance, teachers have accessibility, voice communication and applications that allow full flexibility to engage their students, even if they aren’t on campus. Students can engage via voice and video conferencing, chat, screen sharing, file sharing in a single application.
Organizations should ensure they are equipped to manage remote workers at scale and that those workers have the ability to join virtual meetings wherever they are located, using the devices and applications they already own. Cloud meetings and team collaboration services allow organizations to abide by homebound safety measures and enable employees to keep working and students to keep learning.
With mobile phones and desktop home phones fully integrated into a company’s PBX network, communications run as smooth as in the office, with full functionality available such as company directories, presence information and call routing through the company network.
As the nature of work evolves from static responsibilities to dynamic tasks, adaptive workflows and interactive team collaboration, employees need easy access to robust suites of on-demand, real-time multi-media communications, applications and data.
A Smart WorkSpace provide employees – wherever they are – with a user-centric, personalized dashboard through which they can access all business applications, data and services, fast and easy. Using the device of their choice, users can securely access their working environment from anywhere, at any time, and enjoy a consistent, highly interactive rich-media experience, which becomes an integrated part of daily life. All this helps to keep employees engaged, enthused and productive.
6) From Customer Contact to Customer Engagement
Mass call handling amidst calamities puts extraordinary demands to telephone operators, contact centers and their agents. But also in times when processes are running smoothly, sophisticated call handling is imperative for organizations to drive stronger customer engagement, which in return promotes higher customer lifetime value.
Smart organization ensure that they bring in the resource with the best skills and knowledge for the query engaged in the interaction. By skills-based routing, IVR and proper queue management callers experience quicker, more efficient service. Calls, emails, web chats, and WhatsApps are routed to the best skilled agent based on the requested service or language of the customer.
They ensure agents are well informed, providing them with full visibility of the customer’s history and previous interactions, without the need for the customer to repeat providing the same information across the channels. An omni-channel service creates a seamless, personalized experience, both inbound and outbound, so customers can access the information and services they need, using their preferred channels.
And of course, in times of lock-down, a Contact Center that allows remote agents to work from home as if they were in the office, is extremely valuable and useful.
7) The show must go on
Inaccessibility to critical applications can have a wide range of economic, security and legal consequences. This is why an always-on continuously available ecosystem that proactively averts application downtime and data loss is essential.
Today’s high performance enterprises depend on reliable access to tools, information and people to persistently operate smartly and compete effectively. This requires a robust communications and IT infrastructure capable of providing always-on availability that can also self-heal should potential service disruptions occur.
The Smart Enterprise needs to build security into all organizational processes. Business and IT management must work together to protect data and applications from hardware, OS and application failures due to malicious and natural disasters. End-to-end disaster recovery and readiness for fast data and application recovery must be a top priority regardless of organization size. Choosing the right disaster recovery strategy is a key investment in the future stability of every organization.
A distributed and load-balanced services architecture operating across premises and cloud infrastructures, helps optimize and adapt to business needs and maximizes deployment flexibility. Lock-step fault tolerance and geo-redundancy technology protect critical data and ensure business operations.
8) Optimize Workflows with Application Networking
In this age of digital transformation, organizations often struggle with implementing new applications and services, and swiftly integrating them into their existing business processes. The ability to flexibly adapt workflows and quickly and easily integrate new applications into customer facing processes, can be crucial for organizations to cope with the dynamics of events, the market, the environment and society.
Relatively new on the market is advanced software that interconnects disparate systems to become one’s own centrally managed application network. It seamlessly bridges IT and Communications infrastructures, integrates applications, data, devices and services and enables to dynamically design, manage, integrate and streamline business workflows through drag-and-drop menu’s in a swift and flexible manner.
9) Cloud Services
Organizations move their IT & Communications provisioning to cloud platforms for a number of reasons. These include reduction in risk, reduction in costs, increased revenue through better service delivery and improved customer experience. Cloud-based deployments can adopt new technologies much faster and more easily than their on-premises counterparts.
Still, while many companies embrace the use of public clouds for less sensitive applications, they prefer private clouds for their vital processing tasks, with allocation of these tasks as well as data storage for each application being controlled by cloud and edge terminals. Hybrid clouds can quickly scale to a company’s needs and services can be paid for as needed. Hybrid clouds can combine the best of two worlds, offering true benefits to smart enterprises aiming to stay ahead in their markets.
So, while the current Corona outbreak took the world by surprise and has brought anxiety, distress and disruption, it has also brought about heightened awareness regarding our vulnerabilities. The important lessons learnt provide organizations small and large, with new insights in how they can enhance their processes and business models to cope better with similar instances in future.