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Rethinking ‘Business as Usual’ Post-Pandemic
Whether you’re an automobile manufacturer in Asia, a pharmaceutical in Europe, or a consumer-packaged goods provider in the U.S., your business has undoubtedly been turned upside down of late. Virtually every industry in every location has been impacted by COVID-19 social distancing requirements and overall lockdowns that has shuttered offices and business in one city after the next.
With employee safety the first and foremost concern, and limitations on movement keeping most people away from the office, work from home (WFH) has become the much-discussed new normal globally for employees and contact center agents alike. Organizations have rushed to support this newly distributed workforce as swiftly, seamlessly, and securely as possible to minimize business disruption.
It’s a tall order. Business users today have grown accustomed to collaborating with team members, partners, and customers from rich unified communications clients. Executives expect the ability to access financial data and other mission-critical data as needed, without delay. Contact center agents work best when they have ready access to customer information and the corporate knowledge base integrated into their dashboards. Working from home can throw this all into disarray, leading to a nosedive in employee productivity, poor customer service, compliance breakdowns, security breaches, lost business opportunities, and more.
Not surprisingly, organizations have addressed these challenges through a variety of strategies. Some have opted for scaling existing collaboration tools, while others have introduced new variants delivered from the cloud, and many are doing a mix of several options, often selected by end users. Tata Communications has worked with its partners to provide free WFH offers for collaboration services, and a variety of remote agent solutions to keep contact centres running in accordance with business, policy, and security requirements.
Such measures have been critical — and reasonably successful — in keeping business rolling in the immediate term, but there is a real sense that much work remains. In the coming weeks and months, we expect most organizations to assess how well these emergency measures, as well as their legacy tools and services, supported the business, and re-formulate their collaboration and business continuity strategies for the long term.
Responding to the COVID-19 crisis has allowed us to view things with a fresh perspective and discover opportunities. One big thing that has become clear is that new collaboration tools are very much good enough to enable productivity and to replace tried-and-true, but siloed, infrastructure and services, and that users will embrace them. Questions such as “Is cloud voice quality good enough for me to retire my IP telephony infrastructure?” or “Will my users adopt it?” will be largely resolved over the weeks of lockdown. In the contact center space, whole new strategies are emerging to deliver a rich digital customer experience in an environment where a retail visit is not an option and transaction volumes are high. This may have been a forced experiment, but many organizations will emerge from the current situation having identified and effectively piloted the technologies that can best address their requirements in the most challenging of circumstances.
The net result is that we may emerge from this crisis more willing to embrace change, and a clearer vision of how we want to do so. Whereas before the crisis, moving cautiously and sweating the existing assets as long as possible may have been viewed as a prudent, “low risk” strategy, many organizations will emerge from the ashes questioning the status quo. Having seen what the new stuff can do for their employees and their customers, they’ll be asking why not accelerate their strategy, embracing new technologies, and taking advantage of all the cloud has to offer. And having seen the limitations of their current technologies in a very real stress test, they will know that going back to the old way is not a viable option.
In this environment, we’re working with many of our customers to plan and start moving even before the dust settles, questioning all their legacy technologies and services and making the most of new options available. Just a few of the things we’re thinking about are:
- Optimizing the network for remote connectivity across a distributed workforce and a greatly revised office footprint
- Facilitating collaboration among employees, supply chain partners, and customers — from anywhere and on any device
- Leveraging digital technologies to create a tremendous customer experience that can even differentiate the brand, whatever the transaction, and however the customer chooses to engage
- Ensuring compliance to company policy, privacy laws, and all relevant regulations
- Making sure everything is both scalable and secure as these changes are implemented
Obviously, the list could be a lot longer, and we find it’s unique for each business. The point is, challenging as the current environment may be, it is also creating unprecedented opportunities for change. As a partner, Tata Communications can help both with the immediate response to the crisis, and with capturing those longer-term opportunities so that your organization emerges from it stronger and more competitive than ever before. We expect a challenging business environment for some time to come, and we’re here to help you not only get through it, and but also to thrive beyond it.
Click here to discover how Tata can help shepherd you through your COVID-19 response.