3 actions that Irish businesses should take because of COVID-19

  • Posted on July 30, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
digital business solutions

This article was originally written by Avanade alum Graham Healy.

As Europe emerges from lockdown in different ways and different speeds, big questions are being asked. Will we bounce back quickly? Could we return to business as usual within twelve months? Will we see a v-shaped recovery or something more prolonged?

Despite the uncertainty, making plans to cover multiple potential outcomes can help us all prepare for what’s around the corner. More to the point, will we be prepared when and if this happens again?

Voicing concerns
Speaking to organisations during the lockdown period, the overriding feeling is uncertainty. Mixed into this is everything from positivity and hope to regret and concern.

Positivity, because many organisations have been surprised at how fast they can move – the pandemic forced them to act quickly, and when push came to shove, they did it.

Hope, because the focus has shifted away from short-term fixes to long-term, scalable solutions.

Regret, because COVID-19 caught many organisations with their guard down. The result was relentless firefighting, squashing one bug only for another to appear else – what one CIO described as “infrastructure whack-a-mole”.

Concern, because it could all happen again in the coming months and years. Will companies be able to continually adapt to regular and sudden change? We all want to avoid Groundhog Day.

What COVID-19 has taught us
Given this much thought, I’ve come up with three actions that businesses should take because of COVID-19.

1. You need to keep your foot on the pedal
The future will see a mix of onsite and remote workers, and organisations need a resilient, secure and adaptable technological core to deal with this new way of working. With so many staff working from home, relying on the widescale infrastructure of the cloud is the best way to ensure your organisation has true agility.

It’s rare that on-prem servers can offer the same scalability and reliability delivered by the cloud. As a result, one of the key pillars of any successful organisation will be quick and easy migration to reliable and secure cloud platforms, like Microsoft Azure. As a global Microsoft Azure Migration Partner (AMP), Avanade is making it even easier to accelerate migrations to Microsoft Azure and ensure you’re ready for anything the future throws at you. After all, those who were slow to the cloud before the pandemic are now finding it slow to recover after the pandemic. Getting to the cloud should be a priority.

2. Secure online collaboration is the future of work
Working from home is here to stay. Research from Accenture shows that around half (46%) of people who had never worked from home before the pandemic now plan to work from home more often. The Irish Times recently reported that 80% of employees don’t want a return to standard office hours and working practices. Remote working and new ways of collaborating have allowed many businesses to keep trading. This wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago. Technology is the enabler, so it needs to be the best.

At Avanade, our people rely on Microsoft Teams to collaborate. During the COVID-19 crisis, Avanade’s internal usage has skyrocketed. In May 2020, we burned through a staggering 34 million minutes of audio calls (double what we used in February 2020).

So the second key challenge is for your business revolves around Workplace Experience – making sure you have the right tools, working correctly, and in the hands of everyone who needs them, where and whenever they need them.

A laser-like focus on Security, SecOps and the Secure Enterprise is paramount, which is exactly what we’re helping our clients achieve through the Microsoft technology stack. We began 20 years ago as unabashed Microsoft specialists – after all, we were created as a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture. Our Microsoft skills haven’t dimmed after two decades: Avanade was recently presented with Microsoft’s 2020 Global Alliance SI Partner of the Year Award (for the 15th time!).

3. Customer and employee experiences are still a priority
Another key challenge to overcome is the need for Responsive Customer Care. In the chaos and confusion of the pandemic, many businesses have needed to compromise on their customer service standards. Few organisations have cracked the code of how to operate a remote contact centre and maintain a very good standard of customer service. Yes, your customers are understanding, but patience will wear thin.

There are big questions to ask: are your CRM and ERP systems ready for a remote workforce? Can your workforce support your customers securely and with the necessary data privacy protections? Is your workforce fully trained to use them? Has the downturn in service levels dented your reputation?

But the biggest question is…
…How do you make all of these changes happen? A clear vision and the agility to test, learn and adapt will separate the winners from the losers. You’ll need to activate the full capabilities of your organisation in response to changing market dynamics in a post-pandemic world. We should all be thinking “how can we use the crisis to rethink and reimagine our business infrastructure and processes?”

With the global economic outlook being so difficult to predict, the only sensible course of action is preparing your business for future ‘Black Swan’ events. Don’t leave it to chance.

Rethink the path ahead
Now is the perfect time to rethink your IT infrastructure and make ensure your organisation is fully prepared for an uncertain future. Explore our Rethink website to find out how Avanade can help.

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