The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that technology is an essential and integral part of companies of all sizes and industries. A phenomenon that caused several changes in how this asset is seen, especially in organizations that were in the middle or at the beginning of the path to digital transformation: medium-sized companies.
The tech leaders and IT departments of these businesses, who until then were not always involved in business discussions, were called to the center of strategy and corporate success. In return, they also needed to bring an increasingly holistic view of technologies and their potential for impact in business.
In May 2021, we participated as sponsors of the global event, “Midsize Enterprise Summit“, promoted by The Channel Co and IDC (International Data Corporation), the leading global provider of market intelligence, consulting services, and events for the technology segments of information, telecommunications, and consumer technology. There we could learn about new routes and trends for midsize companies.
Now, in this post, we will share with you:
How to prepare for the post-pandemic world;
What to consider in each phase;
And the steps that your mid-sized company needs to take in order to keep up with movements that are already being done by your competitors until the next normal.
Facing the Covid-19 challenges
We are living times of major turmoil and changes. The feeling of uncertainty about what future holds is making many companies ask themselves one question:
The fact is that the pandemic will mark the history of humanity and business as a turning point, and there’s no way to look further based on a model from the past.
Therefore, the future may seem uncertain, but the crisis that arrived in 2020 brings an exact forecast for organizations: transformation is not optional.
In this context, the most important “to do” of any organization today is to map, structure, and integrate technologies to its key processes, in order to fill the gaps and create capacity for continuity, rapid adaptation, and recovery in any context without major losses.
The 5 stages of recovery for midsize companies during and post-pandemic
We know that the urge for SMEs advancing in digital transformation must be balanced with the reality that most of them are struggling to keep up with this demand.
In addition, months of unexpected costs and possible declines in sales have impacted the cash flow of many organizations, making new investments need to be safe. However, in the context of the pandemic, the trade-off mindset is a requirement for recovery, sustainability and growth.
And that is why, no matter what stage your midsize company is in today, in terms of overcoming the economic impacts of the pandemic or digital maturity, this post will help you define a plan and possible ways to move forward now.
In the study presented by IDC, based on data provided by hundreds of medium-sized tech leaders from around the world. It was found that all of them face or will face these five stages, although at different rates of speed:
Stage 1: Beginning of the COVID-19 crisis / Focus: Business continuity
This stage deals with how companies reacted to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and is largely focused on enabling business continuity. However, here are the persistent effects of technological gaps and hyper-volatility that will become more and more normal.
At this stage, business is slowing down and organizations are in cost optimization mode, where companies are looking for automation technologies that can help them manage their critical points or positively impact financial results for the current fiscal year.
Stage 3: Recession / Focus: Business Resilience
At this stage, organizations survived their greatest crisis during COVID-19. Their focus now is to never go through this again and to build resilient businesses – with the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, while maintaining its fundamental properties and central objective. This digital transformation advances and becomes the main focus going forward.
Stage 4: Return to growth / Focus: Targeted investments
At this stage, economic activity is returning to pre-crisis levels and companies are looking to invest more aggressively, but with a focus on technologies that enhance the organization’s digital capabilities.
The path of relevance within the digital economy becomes the great pursuit – a competitive journey, as at this stage all surviving companies are already at new technological levels.
Stage 5: The next normal & The Future enterprise
When organizations come out of this recession, they will be operating in a new type of economy – the next normal. This will be the beginning of the digital economy, with some new twists and turns as a result of COVID-19.
As we said, each company will go through each phase at its own pace, according to the actions taken in each one of them.
Companies that acted faster are now in the more advanced stages of recovery – and will use that advantage to accelerate their growth and business strategy.
Many companies are even aggressively pursuing acquisitions to try to address their gaps and become more complete.
The Covid-19 Impact Recovery Model for midsize companies
The recovery stage that each company is at is proportional to its efforts towards digital transformation. And vice versa!
Thus, each step will demand action: from the search for expansion of digital channels and the structuring of remote work to ensure business continuity. To a series of other movements to rebuild stability, return to growth and achieve the status of Future Enterprise.
Likewise, if the implementation of these technologies has already been completed, it is time to take the next step and use these and other resources in order to build your business resilience.
Which technologies are part of each stage?
According to the study carried out by IDC, with current world data on the forecast of acquisition of new technologies in companies of all sizes, we can see that these expectations are in line with the general needs created by the pandemic.
Thus, the priority of investments would be directly linked, first, to provide business continuity and enable teams to work remotely or in a hybrid manner safely.
Then, we have the spotlight on technologies to build business resilience, through better and safer IT infrastructures, scalability and automation of operations, and later, of processes.
Although this study does not show only numbers of midsize companies, IDC believes that the data represents them faithfully, as in other analyses, it was observed that after Covid-19, medium and large organizations are advancing at the same pace on the digital agenda.
According to the survey, the crisis also brought a change in priorities:
Likewise, the technologies that enable remote work and collaboration are at the top of the list, with more than half of the participants working on projects in this area.
In second and third place there are technologies to assist in collaboration and visibility from beginning to end of the supply chain, reflecting the need to manage supply networks also prepared for volatility and disruptions.
This way, defining which technologies will be a priority in each recovery phase may depend on the industry, the business model, the needs, gaps, and goals of the company.
But we have a clue: the expansion of online channels, the creation or expansion of e-commerce and marketplaces, and the migration of customer service to digital networks were measures taken by almost all companies last year, in the survival phase. And this generates new management demands in the following stages.
However, the lesson learned from the abrupt changes brought about by the pandemic reveal that it is also necessary for this restructuringto be largely flexible and allow rapid transformations without costs.
And that, not only to solve a problem for the company, but also to guarantee the consumption experience that digital customers expect.
The automation of Customer Service as the key that unlocks recovery
As we have seen in this blog post, the adaptations made by companies to connect with their consumers and continue business during Covid-19 triggered new management challenges and technological needs.
Acquiring flexibility in real-time: just adjust the setup to scale the operation up or down;
Speed of response regardless the volume: an artificial intelligence can have its ability to interact reduced or exponentiated;
Ensuring quality and customization at scale, in any context: the interactions carried out through an artificial intelligence configured correctly will always be of excellence, without variations;
With operations and data which can be easily accessed and understood;
Making predictable investments and having guaranteed return;
And several other features that ensure the resilience of your operation in the face of any impact.
Considering that a culture change only happens through the engagement of the people in this process, this action can also be a driver for the successful digital transformation in your company.
“Let’s remember this pandemic and its aftermath as an exceptional moment of innovation. Who would have thought that a city of our size could be almost paperless in a week? This is a pivotal moment for all of us.”(Meeting the Challenges of COVID-19 — Executive Insights and Guidance – IDC)
In this context, Alana, our proprietary artificial intelligence, brings the solution for customer service and marketing needs, assuring quality, flexibility, and adapting to any volume of interactions.
We are also in the final phase of launching a new platform where Alana can be hired, configured and managed in just a few clicks, online, by the companies’ internal team.
This format will keep all the features that big brands like Coca-Cola and Polishop have already been able to experiment with Alana. But now with a low cost to support that all SMEs can re-establish their operation, recover from the impacts of the pandemic, and acquire the resilience to be more stable and competitive in any future.
When hiring the solution, which has a Service Level Agreement (SLA) guaranteeing the delivery of the expected results, the teams of any company will have, through an intuitive and easy to operate dashboard, the possibility of implementing and automatically managing resources that are decisive in the consumer experience today, such as:
Activation of a Chatbot for several channels: agile, creative, and personalized automatic responses for each user, generated from the reading of their public and private data, the context and the voice tone of the brand;
Intelligent and customized notifications that transform the navigation of your website, potentialize the capture of leads and the conversion into sales;
Responses to comments on social networks, websites, e-mails and applications, always considering the data user, the brand personality and the interaction goals established on the platform ;
Generation of insights and intelligent reports that enable the analysis and continuous improvement.
Despite the functionalities and their tangible impacts on the operation and results, it is essential to keep in mind that this set of solutions represents much more.
It is also about the acquisition of intelligent resources to feel, learn and detect changes in your interactions with the customer.
It is taking a big step for the company to truly become customer-centric. With a deep interest and knowledge of their desires, needs, and behaviors, while offering agile, and engaging experiences.
A holistic view of technology: the best way to defend and implement investments in your company
Now that you are closer to having your roadmap for recovering from the impacts of the pandemic defined, understanding how the acquisition of technologies will unlock new capabilities for the organization and its people, it is time to implement this holistic vision in your planning and company culture.
This approach was already a critical success factor for digital transformation, increasing its probability of being successful by 3 times.
After all, tech leaders must help non-tech leaders to develop a technology potential mindset, and thus enable frontline employees in all areas. This is the time to separate the hype from the real motivators and commercial promises of technology.
For that, it is necessary that, with the choice of new technological solutions, you also bring the integral mapping of its impacts: uniting profitability with better results in consumer experience, sales, product development, talent development, supply chain, etc.
In the mission of driving advancement of digital transformation in a company, the most successful will be those who are dedicated to establishing and selling this vision in a way that people can achieve it.
Creating a framework for the adaptation
Now that you:
Learned about the 5 stages mapped for medium-sized companies between the beginning of the public health crisis caused by Covid-19 and the next normal.
Saw your competitors’ expectations of investing in new technologies in 2021 – and how they will be decisive in each phase.
Know that it is necessary to bring a new point of view to the subject, sharing reasons to believe with people from all over the business.
We invite you to start designing your action plan with the creation of a framework: a simple, visual and collaborative way to record the new things you have learned, structure and stage your ideas, and put them into action.
From the 5 stages brought up in this post, consider “how” all the new capabilities and transformations that a certain technology will bring. Thus enabling the evolution to the next stage.
In the “now“, indicate the tactic: the new technology that will be (or has already been) implemented.
In this post, we talk about the importance of SMEs to recognize the stage of recovery from the impacts of the pandemic in which they find themselves and, thus, define practical and viable actions to adapt to the present and the future, which is accelerating.
And we touch the core of this planning: the acquisition of new technologies that enhance and enable the operation from now on.
Remember some topics:
The changes brought about by the pandemic will be lasting. More than a contingency plan that seems to have worked out at first, solid planning and actions are needed from now on;
Consider that the new dynamics that were implemented in a hurry for business continuity in the last year. Demand the redesign of its operation to assure sustainability and quality control now;
When thinking about this redefinition, look for flexibility: operations that are easily reconfigurable without great costs;
Be aware of the five phases to be covered during and after the pandemic, and that the gradual and planned acquisition of technologies will be responsible for unlocking each of them;
Automation must be a priority to eliminate vulnerabilities in systems and processes that are critical to the business;
Opt for technological solutions that integrate and can be operated by your employees. Building in this way a digital agenda in tune with your workforce, knowing that in a few years, everyone will need skills in the human + machine relationship;
Assume a holistic view and speech when communicating automation plans. Engage other areas and bring interest. Work with HR to manage employee concerns about job loss or marginalization;
Create engagement and auditing resources for the automation and artificial intelligence technologies to guarantee the best use and relevance of the solution, as well as data entry;
Treat artificial intelligence technologies as an organization’s talent, with the ability to contribute, develop itself, and other people. Put some initial energy into the process and you will see the real digital transformation taking place.