Leveraging digital technology for business continuity during COVID-19 lockdown

By Abimbola Kareem 

The word, “technology” resonates more with innovation and its application to human endeavour in order to ease the getting work done accurately, in the shortest possible time, therefore increasing productivity and boosting business performance. 

The outbreak of the coronavirus known as “COVID-19” — according to  Worldometer  — has resulted in over 2.8 million contributed to infectious cases numbering 2.8million as well as 197,000 deaths from it, worldwide. 

In an effort to respond to the pandemic in order to curtail its spread and ensure the safety of lives and reviving the economy, governments around the world have imposed movement restrictions  — popularly referred to as “lockdown” — in order to suppress activities that aids transmission of the deadly virus. This, in turn, has seen businesses — termed as non-essential — folding up, employees losing jobs and hunger looming where there is a shortage of government palliatives. 

As businesses struggle to cope with the imposed lockdown and its underlying challenges, the importance of leveraging flexible work styles and existing digital business tools — to ensure business continuity and remaining relevant in the market — cannot be too strongly overemphasized. 

This pandemic and the imposed lockdown have forced many non-essentials businesses to reconsider remote work approach while strategically using communication/team collaboration tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack, G-Suite, and conventional email messaging software, etc. to conduct their businesses. Educational institutions are relying on e-learning tools such as Udemy, Coursera, edX, Google Classroom, Moodle, Learning Management System, etc. There is a surge in the number of courses/training done online at the time of filing this report. 

Businesses which are traditionally non-digitally based in its their operations and service delivery are experiencing declines in service demands and deliveries. This colossally contributed to the unprecedented loss of jobs, crash of stock markets, plummeting of oil price, dwindling world economic performance and rise in crimes. 

Despite this chaotic situation, digital tech companies seem to be garnering more traction in the wide adoption of their inventions, business continuity, profitability, and employee job security. The likes of Slack, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, social media platforms, etc. are cashing in big time. Telcos are also generating more revenue as the demand for their services exponentially inclines. For example, technology gave insurance companies like Zenith and AXA Mansard the opportunity to communicate health and life insurance offerings to a target audience; and gives the audience the ability to purchase such products with some clicks of buttons on their phones or computers. The availability of online portal and USSD platforms mainly for the procurement of insurance policies digitally makes these feasible. 

Tech companies were also able to comply with an arm of agile methodology known as daily stand-up to monitor the activities of employees working remotely and to determine their performance and any challenges encountered by them. Tools such as JIRA, Pivotal Tracker, Confluence, Asana, Scoro , PROOFHUB, BaseCamp , Podio, WorkZone , Trello, Redmine, Zoho , WorkBook , PAYMO, etc. 

Meanwhile, it is worth noting that the impact of remote work cannot be successful without citing challenges of power outage — in regions ravaged by such issue — and seamless internet accessibility through cheap and fast internet service. 

In my opinion , the takeaways for businesses which are technophobes are:

to reconsider work style for their employee i.e. flexible enough to allow remote work ;

adopt digitally controlled business operations i.e. use of software to initiate, manage, and execute tasks or for service delivery; 

✔diversify their sales channel from physical to virtual i.e. go full e-commerce, digitally manage;

✔inventory and delivery process, allow electronic payments (bank card, bank transfer and cryptocurrency); 

✔automate business processes to have little or no human interference in their daily business performance and save operational and overhead costs; 

✔adopt online schooling/learning for staff training and student tutoring/class management; 

✔replicate physical business as an electronic version. For example, virtual touring i.e. the simulation of a place of interest. 

On the other hand – as a takeaway for – the tech/startup companies can begin to focus more on developing competitive virtual tools to rival the big tech firms; pitch these tools directly to impeding potential clients; cash in, cash in and keep cashing in………. 

Going forward, tech companies should invest more in the development of virtual reality tools that leverage hologram technology. While schools should get rid of their white/blackboards to encourage Moodle system of course notes sharing, assignment/coursework management and class management. 

 

Kareem is a Lagos-based IT Professional. He’s on staff with Swifta Systems and Services.

 

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