Summary of RingCentral Digital Boardroom – Thursday 28th May 2020
After the initial panic of business trying to deal with the outbreak of COVID-19, having people work remotely where possible and reassessing priorities, in general systems and technology now seem to be back to a stable position and many organisations have been surprised by the rise in productivity they have seen while employees are working remotely.
People have come together having more and important conversations, cloud technology and digital transformation has accelerated for any organisations and IT is now seen as the unsung hero as people who were hesitant in the past are now enjoying the benefits.
How are you serving your customers in this new world? How are you working better internally with colleagues?
Businesses have experienced varying fortunes during the outbreak depending on industry. Some which were partly or solely online, have remote working schemes in place already and were already in the midst of their digital transformation journey managed to weather the storm well. While others in industries that rely on open borders or have factories or warehouses that required people on site have struggled to reinvent themselves.
Many who have parts of the business which cross both sides of the spectrum have had mixed experiences as certain parts have run smoothly while others required a lot of work. And finally, some fortunate industries have been able to develop new revenue sources in response to the crisis such as healthcare.
While very few organisations will have had remote working schemes in the past, it is widely agreed that remote working is here to stay in some fashion. However, some employees are now wishing greatly to go back to the office style of work. This is due to several factors such as missing the office environment, the industry they work in or their situations at home whether it be living alone or with families and children.
And while restrictions are slowly being relaxed to allow more businesses to reopen, it may be very hard for those in large cities or built up areas to reopen due to the number of people they may come into contact with, for example in London on public transport or in large offices of several thousand people.
For some businesses, for example in retail, while moving more business online has kept them afloat as they increase their digital presence, it has in their words taken away from the ‘experience’ customers go through while making purchases which is hard to replicate online. On the flipside, such as in real estate, while virtual tours of properties were very rare as being in person was preferred, the ability to change priorities overnight has led to great success.
How are you optimising costs and dealing with finance?
A key task for many has been finding the right balance between making cuts including furloughs and closing offices, factories and warehouses and keeping what is necessary for the business to survive running. And in some cases, as business needs and focus has shifted as a result of the crisis, areas that wouldn’t have been a priority in the past now need to be maintained ahead of former pillars of the business.
Most organisations will have taken huge financial losses as a result of the crisis to ensure staff can work safely and/or remotely or compensating and reassuring customers. As a result, many executives who would have had their budgets in place for 2020 are now working month to month to ensure they are financially secure to stay afloat however long the crisis may last.
Also, as less people go into offices on a daily basis, many will likely be looking into rental costs and office requirements to save money to combat the losses felt in the first part of 2020.
How has innovation been affected by the outbreak?
While new projects and innovation we initially halted early on to focus on helping businesses survive and react to the crisis, now that things have settled down in most areas, there is a great demand for people to come up with solutions for problems that either did not exist until now, or improve on existing solutions with out of the box thinking without wasting resources as the outbreak remains a key driver.
Tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom have understandably become very popular as a result of the outbreak. Do you see a need for better integration with these?
One comment around Microsoft Teams is that while it works perfectly for small groups internally within a business with no real worries, there are issues and concerns around larger groups or external calls to people outside the business with regards to security, sharing information and connections. RingCentral replied by stating that a lot of their time is spent working on how they can help businesses compliment Microsoft Teams, explaining that there are many solutions available across most browsers to help against these concerns.