The Digital Strategies for Operations Beyond COVID-19

The Coronavirus lockdown has dramatically changed how many businesses operate, but even as we slog through the quarantine weeks or months, business leaders need to be planning how to return to work when things start getting back to a “new normal.”

From total closure with plans to restart a new business, to hibernation with the hope that workers and customers will be there on the far side, many companies have felt the wrath of Covid-19. But, also there are regular companies fulfilling daily requirements that are turning to digital means to get their messages out.

There are also plenty of digital businesses ticking along, providing services like collaboration tools, chatbots and office facilities to companies that find they can get on with some type of office life; working from home, delivering frontline services or finding innovative solutions to keep going. And some offer key tools that are helping the governments and health departments tackle the key problems they face.

Whatever the situation your business finds itself in, it needs a plan to restore services and operations when the lockdown ends. Among these efforts will be a requirement for:

Reconciling any data that has been worked on using different systems or services with the master files. This could be accounts records, paperwork that was scanned in and updated online, ad hoc spreadsheets and databases people have created. For smaller firms, this can be done manually, but even small amounts of data over a long period of time will have seen substantial changes, so consider robotic process automation (something larger firms use all the time) to reconcile data, catch up with extensive paper trails and help move the business to a digital footing.

Develop a digital workplace strategy that helps bring all the benefits and skills people have discovered under their own initiative back to the office. This can be smarter processes, useful workarounds for slow, old ways of doing things. Look to adopt more remote working to improve work-life balance, as people will rightly point out they can now successfully work from home.

Also, look to employ more of the collaboration applications, cloud productivity tools and required security apps to make schemes like BYOD and remote work more efficient and reduce any of the other data risks that digital business face.

Look at chatbots and AI tools as ways to communicate among the business or with customers, and to better make use of the data they provide. Chatbots became irreplaceable tools to help deal with mass communications for health agencies, and for all types of business to inform people about their fast-changing opening hours, types of operations/stock levels and other information in a neat and easy-to-update package that let the hard-pressed workers get on with their business.

Corona Chatbot

The AI tools in supply chain, stock control, customer analytics and other areas have helped businesses among retail and supply see the rapidly changing nature of customer requirements and help them adapt fast (or as fast as circumstances dictate). These tools will rapidly mature and become available to all companies to help them with planning and decision making.

Finally, for companies that have had plenty of time to learn about new market trends over the crisis, they can look at the whole basked of robotic production tools, customer service bots and other tools to deliver efficiencies and to work better next time trouble strikes.

How to do Better Business Beyond Covid

While the unfortunate news is there will be plenty of business failures and fallout during and beyond Covid, surviving companies will be looking to take on their custom or provide equivalent services to clients. Local companies will need to monitor rivals and talk to clients/partners to evaluate the landscape and see where they can win in the market.

Larger companies will already have keen eyes on failing rivals, but can use a data-based approach to capturing their web searches, customer information and client rosters to ensure they gain as much benefit as possible.

For all returning-to-normal businesses, there will also be a need to train anyone who struggled to keep up with the digital from-home changes and ensure they are better equipped. Those with poor connectivity should be encouraged to upgrade while IT departments should check every device coming onto the premises for malware and other risks.

Finally, upgrade all your websites, social media and messaging to promote the back-to-business motto, while looking at any benefits of financing, grants and local business events that help promote normal service.

Digital Strategies for Operations Beyond Covid-19 was originally published in Chatbot News Daily on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.