What if you wake up this morning and the first news you got is your daily routine or regular activity is no longer possible or simply restricted. That has been happening in many cities of the world – no thanks to the Corona-Virus hopping across international borders.
Cities, communities and locations have been on lockdown with movement, gatherings and social interactions restricted. In some situations, its been a complete isolation [eg Holiday Ships] and for worser scenarios [eg visitors/returnees from an infected location] a complete quarantine.
Since there is no cure, the workable option is containment employing any of the scenarios mentioned earlier.
Now this is bad for Business. What’s business by the way – Two or more people meeting to effect a transaction. Meeting !!! – That’s the key word.
So if you run a business, and you cant meet your customers neither can they come to you. Nothing happens right?. Take it further, when essential components of an organization are unable to function eg Employees. It affects the ability of that organization to deliver its obligations or accept more responsibilities.
However times are changing and almost anything is possible. So here are some few tools you could take advantage of and keep your business running even in a complete lock-down.
Before I continue, permit me to say – not everything can be done virtually. For some activity types – there will be need for human interaction. What can be done better is to minimize the human interaction element and replace a larger share of the transacting process with virtual activity.
Every work done on a System can be done from Home
In a situation where employees are unable to converge, then they work from their homes. This could well apply to Financial organisations, Banks, Investment companies, and the Blue chip companies.
Yes Yes, security of systems!, configuring of special software!, enabling of applicable system environments!, IT support!, data privacy! and all that.
It can work – Three options available are:
- Cloud Hosted solutions available to authorized users via the web:
The organization’s portal/application is hosted in the cloud and accessible to authorized users. Softwares that fall into this category includes Office Productivity tools & Email[Office365 & Gsuite], Customer Support Software[Zendesk, Intercom, Helpdesk, Freshdesk etc] Sales CRM[Zoho, Salesforce etc], Typical Websites, Payment Portals, Online Accounting portals and many more.
- Connection to the Office Systems via Remote Desktop
It’s a simple process – The user office PC is on and a special software installed on it, the user can then connect to the office PC from any other PC provided the connection protocol is authorized. This option is suitable for organisations running specialized software that cannot be installed or made available to a user’s home PC. Financial institutions will find this very useful. It preferable security wise as the organisation does not have to sacrifice the availability of its application to workstations not in its possession. Examples are Teamviewer, Logmein, Anydesk etc.
- Cloud Hosted Virtual PC or Desktop as a Service[DAAS]
This concept is new but gaining ground gradually. Not just for lockdown situations but even overall IT cost savings. Let me explain.
A virtual desktop gives you all the features available on a PC except that its not there physically. The hefty first step of purchasing an HP or Dell workstation is completely eliminated. Rather depending on the provider[Popular ones being Citrix, AWS, Microsoft etc] the organization subscribes or pay per use.
Just like the normal PC, applications are installed, software environment configured and its accessible from anywhere with an internet enabled device[PC, Tablet or even phone] This option saves organizational cost of investing in PCs, configuring them, updating and still having to support. And guess what when you are done or o longer have the capacity to use, simply drop it. It’s completely scalable.
Markets and provision of services can be taken online
If movements and gatherings were to be restricted – markets and commerce will be severely affected. So if you retail in commodities or provide services, now is the time to showcase your store/office online, create an avenue for customers to purchase and pay, limiting human interaction to the final stage which is delivery. There are many avenues this can be done depending on what your business offers. Social Media, Your website can be integrated with an ecommerce functionality, Online Ecommerce Marketplace offering vendor partnerships and many more. Do not forget that whatever medium you choose – you need to enable the ability to receive money with ease, afterall that is why you are in business.
Provision customer support online
There are many ways this could be done – Online chat on your website, engaging your clients on Social Media, Telephone support and many more.
For bigger organisations, its best to make use of a Support Desk or Ticketing portal. This will ensure there is proper coordination amongst your team more especially when they are not in the same location. A helpdesk portal will ensure each feedback or complaint is recognized, numbered, assigned and supervisors could easily see who is working on a particular request and view the history.
Quite a lot of good helpdesk portal with awesome features exist. Zendesk, Helpscout, Freshdesk, Zoho support and more.
Meetings, Presentations, deliberations
Like I said earlier, restriction should not be the end of business. Do you have a sales presentation, is there a need for a conference call involving multiple participants. Technology has made that simple. There are a couple of video conferencing softwares that are super efficient for meetings – audio and video. Many also provide features for screen presentations. Zoom, Whereby, Skype, Slack and many more.
Tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams give teams or employees virtual workplace rooms where projects can be discussed, feedback and status shared realtime. External members of the organization eg customers, vendors can also be invited.
In conclusion, the world is a global village – the items mentioned are not just useful to organisations during a lockdown, they are actually represent a growing trend in the future of work. And in some cases can chart a new path of profitability and operations efficiency for organisations
Challenges arising from health, climate, civil disturbances and sometimes global crisis will continue to occur. And while businesses may not be able to stop them from occurring, you can do your best to minimize their impact on your operations.
Most of the times, Zion peers at the computer screen, tweaking codes, analysing and calculating figures, manipulating the screen and digging deep into the World Wide Web. A combination of many different things in one thing. You don’t have to bother understanding that.