The COVID-19 has dramatically affected the world and continues to have an impact on each and every sector. It unexpectedly rushed into our life, causing the necessity to quickly adjust to new circumstances. The offline business has suffered the most. The catering and hospitality, retail, sports are examples of those fields that need restructuring.
In the context of the pandemic, even companies that got used to employing outdated applications or not to employ them at all will digitize their processes. Many firms that didn't allow employees to perform tasks from home before, have already established a remote workspace and noticed advantages such as rent savings and improved productivity. Audio and video conferencing tools, cloud solutions, document sharing and reporting apps are increasingly used across every industry.
The main questions are: what SMEs should do to mitigate the crisis and fight off competition? How to optimize workflow and survive? In this article, we’ve collected 4 important recommendations to help you successfully adapt to the fast-changing environment.
How is COVID-19 changing the business world?
While some market players like cafes, restaurants, and cinemas are suffering losses, e-commerce platforms are witnessing record growth. Being incapable to visit retail stores every day, millions of people worldwide are using delivery services during the coronavirus outbreak.
In accordance with the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is going to hire 100,000 employees in the USA to meet increasing demand. The company also said that it will raise wages by $2 per hour for warehouse and delivery staff through April.
Mobile app downloads of retail giants have significantly increased. For example, Walmart Grocery Shopping, a famous application in the United States, has seen unprecedented growth since the beginning of March 2020.
Source: App Annie “Walmart Grocery Takes #1 Spot in Shopping App Downloads” by Lexi Sydow
Other grocery delivery services are also witnessing an exponential increase. According to Apptopia, the number of app installs rose by 124% and 216% for Shipt and Instacart respectively.
In order to transport physical goods, businesses will apply robots, drones, and mobile products. For large machinery delivery, contactless mechanisms employing big carriers will be used. Sky News, a British television news channel, reports that in Washington DC self-driving delivery robots are helping shops and restaurants stay open during COVID-19.
Organizations are actively integrating blockchain solutions to ensure the highest security of sensitive data and carry out transactions from any place in the world. Find out whether your company will benefit from using blockchain technology.
Incorporating artificial intelligence chatbots in customer service operations, businesses instantly answer frequently asked questions, process requests much faster, optimize labor costs, and extremely improve client service. Augmented reality apps are helping students to study more quickly and efficiently in fields like healthcare, architecture, and manufacturing.
Popular streaming platforms, audio and video conferencing software, e-learning and entertainment applications are flourishing. For Netflix, the traffic volumes raised from 54% to 75% during the peak viewing hours. WhatsApp, one of the most famous mobile messengers globally, jumped 117-217%.
Although it may be difficult to generate profit at this time, there are different modern technologies and effective strategies that will help you. Take a look at how to optimize business processes in new conditions.
How to digitize workflow in 2020
At the moment, companies from all over the world are leveraging remote collaboration tools, deploying online shops and creating smartphone apps to let customers work, study, order food, and receive consultations from home. It’s also important to establish an efficient reporting system, transparent communication, and boost social presence.
1. Set up a remote workflow
Establishing an efficient remote workflow is one of the most important things to do during the quarantine. Though it may seem to be quite challenging, a distant team can work as efficiently as in the office thanks to advanced tools and approaches.
Remote work: advantages and predictions
According to the study by Stanford University, there are plenty of advantages that remote work provides companies with. They involve raised productivity, less time for commuting, and reduced costs due to rent savings.
“We found a 13% improvement in performance from people working at home.” — Nicholas Bloom, professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He said that there are several reasons. First of all, there are no traffic delays, long lunches with colleagues, and other disturbing factors. Second, people can better concentrate on tasks as there is no noisy office environment.
UpWork forecasts that 73% of organizations will connect distant employees by 2028. Experts at Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs revealed that remote work has increased 159% over the past 12 years.
Therefore, distant collaboration is becoming very popular even without the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
How you can set up a convenient remote workspace:
1). Use remote collaboration platforms
Online collaboration platforms enable teams to effectively cooperate remotely, including communications in chats, video meetings, file editing and sharing via a mobile or web application. What’s more, these solutions generally allow users to simultaneously work on documents from any device. This way, you can establish a single shared workspace. Examples of such tools are SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.
In our custom mobile app development company, we employ Jira and our internal information system, called AraIS, which is fully customized to our needs. In AraIS, engineers create tasks, update their statuses, attach files, and inform about various issues. It also contains a personal account for our customers where they can view daily and weekly reports, project roadmap, as well as track progress.
2). Employ audio and video conferencing applications
Since now businesses have to migrate to a work-from-anywhere model, audio and video conferencing solutions are gaining high popularity. These apps allow specialists to organize meetings from any place on the earth, providing high video quality and reliable Internet connection.
Commonly used software tools for this purpose are Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Google Hangouts that we also use to communicate with partners and clients. Being available for free, these applications enable teams to collaborate in chats, add plans to the calendar, and receive reminders to prevent any delays.
3). Use online file sharing and editing tools
Company security policies often restrict sharing sensitive information via chats or emails due to privacy risks. Fortunately, there are many platforms that enable organizations to safely transfer documents and produce content from any device.
Citrix ShareFile is one of the most famous and convenient solutions of this type. Useful features involve file synchronization, cloud data storage, email encryption, electronic signatures, and Office 365 integration.
2. Develop a software product
If you have a cafe, restaurant, retail store, or any other offline business, transfer all possible services online to continue earning an income. As millions of people stay at home, they need to have the ability to order food and services via their devices including smartphones, PCs, laptops, and tablets. One should note, that as a result of the pandemic, mobile app usage has extremely increased.
Source: App Annie “Weekly Time Spent in Apps Grows 20% Year Over Year as People Hunker Down at Home” by Adithya Venkatraman
What’s more, despite the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, mobile app spending is expected to double to $171 billion in 2024 (according to the report by Sensor Tower).
So, build an e-commerce site or a mobile application to let customers browse goods and make purchases with a few clicks without having to go somewhere. The same with banks, insurance firms, real estate companies, and other organizations.
For example, a mobile product can allow clients to receive personalized advice, carry out money transfers, view a history of transactions, manage personal finance, edit and scan files, etc. Embed electronic signatures, so that it will be possible to sign documents via a smartphone. Besides ensuring an amazing user experience, you will substantially reduce paperwork.
If your software system is built on top of the outdated tech stack, which causes performance issues, you should migrate it to advanced technologies. This will enable you to quickly respond to multiple requests, ensure the seamless user experience, and improve scalability.
In case you doubt whether your business really should develop a software solution or not, read our article “10 Symptoms That Your Business Needs Custom-Made Software”.
3. Migrate services to the cloud
Businesses make huge investments in building and deploying software systems to optimize workflow. When your services live on local network devices, they rely on IT and application managers, while requiring the installation of the company’s own hardware.
As a consequence, access to them is more difficult, maintenance costs are higher. Employing cloud computing (also referred to as on-demand computing), you can not only significantly reduce expenses but increase security.
Cloud computing allows organizations to access software on the internet as a service while enabling safe data exchange and storage. Employees will be able to complete tasks at any time, from any place. As cloud service providers are responsible for IT infrastructure management, in-house specialists can focus on more important activities.
Security is also improved. First, trusted vendors ensure compliance with data protection standards. Second, if data is stored in the cloud, you can remove any sensitive information remotely or just transfer it to another account.
In our software house, we use cloud computing to build applications that can easier handle high loads. Recently, a famous online casino gaming company has turned to us to develop a platform for seamless video streaming 24/7. As the solution has to efficiently process large amounts of data and reduce costs, our engineers employed Amazon Web Services (AWS), the global provider of on-demand cloud computing platforms.
4. Boost online presence
If you have had to close the store or cafe dining area due to the COVID-19 pandemic, do not despair. To make customers remember about you and motivate them to buy, focus on digital activities such as publishing posts and launching digital marketing campaigns.
Produce engaging content and distribute it across all online channels, for instance, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok, popular apps that you can use to promote goods and services. Another great strategy is to provide users with online consultations that you can hold with any software tool that supports live video streaming, say Zoom or Instagram.
Although the coronavirus pandemic is having a negative impact on many businesses, some of them are becoming true winners. Using software solutions and making their own applications, they are optimizing workflow, automating various operations, and implementing new ways to engage customers
Essentially, disruption is disruption. It doesn't matter whether it is economic, political, or a pandemic. Sometimes it is out of our power to predict such things as we are facing now. In these terms, we have to adapt. Fortunately, there are many software technologies that can help you survive or you can create your own app to meet business-specific needs.
In our boutique software development company, we are ready to help you adjust to new realities faster and better than your competitors. If you want to resolve some industrial challenges or build a software product, contact our experts. The project consultation is for free!