This New Year was welcomed with equal optimism and caution. As COVID-19 vaccines started to roll out in some countries, there was increasing hope of a return to normal as soon as possible. However, the new strain that resulted in renewed restrictions brought home the point that the pandemic is still far from over. While businesses are starting to recover and find ways to continue to survive, they must also safeguard against new developments, future pandemics, and other similarly disruptive events.
Health and Safety of Employees and Customers
Social distancing and remote work will continue for the most part of 2021. Businesses must continue current health and safety protocols and quickly adapt should new outbreaks or restrictions develop. Employees need to be equipped to remain productive amidst changing conditions and continue to meet customer needs in a safe and responsible way.
A Digital World
Technology has a leading role in this pandemic. Aside from those in the essential industries, the businesses that are surviving, and even thriving, are the ones who are already digital or quickly adopting technology. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been the most vulnerable, but it is not too late to shield themselves from the worst. Business owners may be hesitant to embrace digital because they are not sure where to begin or which areas they can digitize and how to implement without an IT person and with limited resources.
Fortunately, there are tools that allow SMEs to easily digitize, whether for customer services, operations, or both. The natural first step for SMEs is to be able to sell products online. This is now easy with social media marketplaces and e-commerce platforms like Shopify. Digital payments are also made easier with SME-friendly payment providers like Paypal and Stripe.
Business can further use technology to improve their operations while adhering to health and safety protocols. Field operations are more challenging now but can be safely carried out with the help of technology. Digitizing field reports reduces the need for your employees to go back to the office as well as lessens physical contact with customers and partners while on their field assignments. A cloud-based and budget-friendly field reporting software like Kustom360 can be easily used by SMEs to manage field employees and get field data.
For businesses that have already gone digital, it is time to go to the next level by leveraging data from software services like Kustom360 to make effective decisions. This can be their competitive advantage. Emerging technologies like data analytics can provide deeper insights into customer behavior, market performance, manpower productivity and operations efficiency. This may need a bit more investment and may take some time to implement, but it is important to put this in the roadmap if they want to better prepare for uncertainties and future-proof the business.
There is no denying that the pandemic has shown the necessity of digitization for businesses. It is a crucial business survival tool, and the rewards are permanent even after the world is back to normal or the situation is more stable.