Leaders Reimagine their Plans as they Adapt to the COVID Crisis
A global survey by HSBC, reveals small and medium enterprises are reshaping their plans for the future, as they adapt to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As remote working – at least in part, is set to continue indefinitely, the majority believe that technology is central to enabling flexible working practices. The research also shows how tech firms are realigning their services against a landscape which, quite possibly, has changed forever.
Here, we summarise some of the insights from HSBC’s research and include the personal reflections of our CEO, Peter Sweetbaum.
Highlight’s from HSBC’s Research
From a survey of 2,600 SMEs, three things were cited as critical to survival:
- Virtual customer support packages
- Video conferencing tools
- High-speed internet
“While HSBC’s research focused on SMEs, it’s a similar picture across our mid-market, enterprises and public sector clients,” comments Peter Sweetbaum.
And a survey of business leaders from 49 tech firms uncovers how the Covid-19 pandemic has altered their thinking. Notably, over half plan to realign their products or services, with self-serve capabilities and enhanced online journeys core to their operational strategies.
Technology firm leaders also divulged that:
- 74% of tech businesses have increased remote working
- 64% predict adjustments to their office space with;
- 52% expecting a reduction in office space
As an entrepreneur at the helm of a group of tech companies, Peter Sweetbaum adds: “Moving into lockdown, we were operational pretty seamlessly, but getting people settled into a new way of working took some effort. We knew we had to maintain a strong staff culture and make sure we took care of our employees physical and mental wellbeing.”
Plainly, bricks-and-mortar businesses in sectors like retail and hospitality have taken a severe hit. But we’ve seen examples of improved productivity in other verticals. Time usually spent commuting has allowed more focus time, and the lockdown gave some the space for personal development.
On the flip side, the boundaries between work and home life blurred, with others enduring little downtime and back-to-back meetings. Meeting fatigue is backed by the figures; in January, Microsoft Teams users hovered around 20 million a day. Today, it’s over 75 million.
A review of how IT can help business leaders navigate the future and build their resilience is vital. At a top-level, this must include:
- Leveraging Technology. Too few businesses have a long-term, strategic plan on how and where technology can help them achieve their ambitions. Consequently, decisions around what systems or applications to adopt without that longer-term vision become harder. And when a crisis forces rapid and unplanned change, the problems compound.
- Flexibility and value for money. Pay-as-you consume models which flex with the prevailing circumstances, enabling businesses to scale up or down as required.
- A hub for employee engagement and comms. In this era of home working and globally distributed workforces, a central place for your people to surface information is crucial. Digital workplace solutions like Fresh are a core part of the piece.
Dan Sharp of Mirus IT – Content+Cloud’s SMB centre of excellence, commented: “First-class remote working tools and IT support are more important than ever. Poorly provided, they have the potential to impact productivity, frustrate your user -base and impact motivation at a time when it is needed the most.”
We outline contemporary IT solutions in our blog: Essential Technologies for Lockdown and Beyond. And to support your organisation through this testing time, our COVID hub includes on-demand resources, with advice on tech adoption, change management and effective remote working.
Information Age asked our CEO, Peter Sweetbaum, for his reflections on how the pandemic has influenced businesses.
“Many of the major tech trends we are seeing come to the fore today are not new; Covid-19 has accelerated the transformations that were going to happen anyway. We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.
“Use of cloud technology has increased over the last five years, but remote working has forced businesses to move from paper-based or rigid legacy systems into flexible mobile-first and cloud-native applications.
“[Business] priorities have changed, and so their appreciation of — and dependency on — these technologies has changed. Suddenly having a ubiquitous communication tool, or a single way to access all their technology has become so much more important to our clients than it ever was.”
You can read more of Peter’s views in Information Age’s article: Technology investment top priority for SMEs in next five years – HSBC UK.