The spread of COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of business, and the technology sector is no exception. While some tech businesses have shot to global prominence, others have had their fundamental value questioned. We explore three lessons tech companies can learn from recent events.
Operating a business
The clearest thing that tech companies have learned is that they need to have developed and refined their business continuity plans to ensure they can pivot to a new paradigm rapidly, and without interruption to their services. This needs to include a number of key functions that can effortlessly move, including the delivery of services, the provision of customer support, and the ongoing development of products. With this strategy polished and ready, tech companies should be able to adapt to whatever might happen.
Technology companies are brilliant at developing their products – it is what makes them leading technology companies, after all. What the pandemic has shown us is that technology companies must think outside their own domain, because when something like the isolation and lockdown arrives as a result of COVID-19, customers suddenly need to use a range of tech solutions to live their lives and conduct their businesses.
One thing we have learned is that our customers need to know more than what Class is building – they want to know about how we’re working, what technology we’re using internally as we adapt to the times, and what our partner network is doing.
The speed at which technology solutions have risen to prominence in a matter of weeks, while others have collapsed, is evidence of the power of the change underway. When Class implemented its full business work-from-home order from March 23, staff were ready for remote work using a wide range of tools. In turn, Class was transparent and able to communicate how we work to the market and our customers. It is in everyone’s best interest to see how functional business can be using technology.
On a recent webinar with CI Events, Class CEO Andrew Russell talked about how the arrival of the COVID-19 crisis not only forced Class to pivot quickly to keep staff safe, but allowed new possibilities for work to come into focus. It became clear, for example, that it was possible for staff to maintain productivity while working from home with the right communications channels, and a sense of community can be maintained with staff. Ensuring the Class community remains intact will be key.
Tech companies are more than services
Technology companies are more than service providers – they are the trusted pillar of support as the business and social world realigns under the temporary new world of work. As one person frets about how they would conduct a Zoom meeting with their CEO while a toddler roams the home, another panics about how they could conduct their client review meetings without being able to actually meet with their client.
The tech platforms and services are there, ready to be utilised. Importantly, they are trusted. Trust is the hardest commodity to earn, and the easiest to lose once held. To see companies like Trello, Slack, Zoom and more rise to the challenge of facilitating everything from business continuity to keeping families connected, indicates that those services that deliver effective and uncomplicated solutions will always be valued when challenges arise.
Technology is helping us find which of our favourite restaurants are running takeaway-only services, and helping groceries arrive on our doorstep without leaving the house. In the business world, platforms and providers are more than service providers – they can be leaders in providing a roadmap for adaptability.
They are also trusted partners for their clients, and they can and should do their best to help their customers understand how to navigate challenging times. That can be through building dedicated resources for their customers including instructional videos or running webinars on topics beyond their own platform use.
Disruption, and automation
The disruption forced upon the business community has been unparalleled, and while businesses like Amazon are booming and in the process of hiring 175,000 staff, others have fallen victim to the changes. There is an extensive list of the latter that includes travel companies and payment services.
What can tech companies learn from the disruption? Primarily that they must seek to be adaptable and develop services that allow the business to operate in more than one domain.
Class fundamentally believes that automation can and will play an increasingly meaningful role in the world of work. It just needs product manufacturers to work with each other and the government to facilitate this. It may be as straightforward as having an accounting platform pull feeds from banks, or a more complicated system that involves the ATO working with platforms to allow autofill of tax information.
The current environment also strengthened the case for automation to play an ever-increasing role in the business world. As champions of automation, we have been working hard at building our products and platforms to make our customers’ lives as uncomplicated as possible. In a future where physically meeting with each other can’t be taken for granted, any function of a business we can automate will allow that business owner to spend more time doing the important things – like building their business, planning for the future, and serving their clients.