| by Emma Pownall
22nd July 2020 | 7 min read
Tech strategy tips: As we rise from lockdown
2020 has been a year of disruption – the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown has meant big change to business as usual. We have seen our clients adapting to new ways of working and it’s becoming clear that the situation we have found ourselves in has forced forward better ways of working.
Wishing to share these new learnings with Datel's community, Marketing Director Emma Pownall recently caught up with Paolo Arcangelo, Sage X3 Services Director at Datel, and Rob Sinfield, VP of product at Sage, to discuss their top tips for technology strategies as we come out of lockdown. And more interestingly, how businesses can capitalise on the opportunity as a result.
Increase collaboration with customers
For Datel, the key to making this an effective period of change and transition has been collaboration. By providing scoping and training during periods when it’s not possible to visit customers, we have been able to keep in touch and support optimal use of Sage X3 and other products.
Using tools such as Teams, Zoom and WebEx, to interact and share experiences with customers has been critical and screen-sharing has worked very successfully. White-boarding and using One-note have increased interaction by drawing and writing live in conversation, which also enhance collaboration - and have actually proved more effective than our pre-Covid way of working. Paolo explained; "When we’re having our Teams calls or our WebEx conversations, we’re able to share our screens and more easily demonstrate the point we’re trying to put forward. I think that’s actually been easier using the current tools than the way that it was before when we were sat with customers.”
At Datel we've also developed online content for customers to access before and after the video sessions, including product demonstrations through our Ignite videos, as well as continued access to our online project portal. All scoping and training documents, agendas, budget statements and management tools are available on the project portal, making it easy for customers to transition the way that they conduct projects in lockdown. “We’ve started to understand how we can get our customers more engaged in these conversations, and found that holding shorter workshops has been very beneficial. These shorter bursts give people more opportunity to get involved in the conversation and the chance to go away, have a think about what they’ve learnt, and bring feedback into the next session,” said Paolo.
Bringing together & motivate distributed workforces
“We fell into lockdown here at Datel! We started some testing to see how the business would cope with remote working and then never went back to the office!" Paolo continued, "The main thing we’ve done in the business, right the way through, for all the different teams, is organise regular get-togethers – cameras and microphones mandatory for social interaction.” This way of working extended beyond the Datel team and out to our clients as well, with tools like Zoom, Teams and WebEx being very important in enabling regular communication.
Rob’s team at Sage has done the same, with regular catch-ups on Teams and using a WhatsApp group for less formal business. Rob voiced, "I speak to folks all over the world, including those sitting in the hotspots of COVID-19… I think Sage has reacted really well. We closed our offices straight away and took the decision to keep our offices closed, anywhere in the globe, until September.” Since lockdown, Sage has been recording training so customers can refer back to the videos. These will also be useful for any employees who’ve been furloughed, when returning to work.
Working with and motivating distributed workforces is normal now for all sizes of business, and we build on this by ensuring that people have the information they need at their fingertips. It’s vital to ensure people feel connected and build the new business culture that we’re going to have in the future. Many of our Datel customers have started to regard the home office no longer as a technology nightmare but as a business strategy and something that they need to improve on in the future.
Support the digital home office by moving to the cloud
Through this testing time, some of the tech we previously relied upon in the office has proven to let us down at home, but the cloud based solutions have proven their strength in businesses. Paolo proudly stated, "I think many businesses had challenges on the way into lockdown but Sage X3 wasn’t one of those.”
Sage X3 has been able to support businesses with remote working - our customers at Datel have taken advantage of Sage X3’s architecture as a cloud-enabled application and this has allowed them to make the transition from working in an office to working from home, successfully. One customer said that if they had not implemented their Sage X3 solution online before lockdown, they didn’t think they would have been able to support home-based working, as they were previously so paper-based and manual.
Businesses adapting to the new ways of working imposed by lockdown have had to move from an on-premises server to a cloud-hosted solution. Making the break by moving to a cloud-based environment also means external providers look after your system’s security. This removes internal headache and instead of having to protect networks with an ever-changing background of security within your business systems, the cloud has got your back.
Use the current situation as a driver for change
Many businesses had to adapt very quickly to a change in economic situation and most have been able to do this successfully. This means you’re in a good position to capitalise on these investments and take them forward, post lockdown.
As the Stamford economist, Paul Romer, sagely said “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” Following the 2008 economic downturn, we saw a bounce-back in the economy to greater heights than before, as businesses capitalised on the opportunity to invest and innovate. Now, the fall-out from the pandemic and this year’s economic downturn certainly seem like they might accelerate digital transformation and innovation for many businesses.
However, this transformation doesn’t need to be huge or all happen overnight. Rob explained, “The challenge with digital transformation - and this is always the challenge with these mega-trends - is that people try to get to a point where they think about it as these amalgamous things that are so very big and you don’t know where to start.”
This is a common problem for the businesses we work with at Datel. But it's crucial not to let big ambitions overwhelm us - to the point of doing nothing. Rob left us with a final piece of sound advice; “Sometimes the key to digital transformation is picking an area that’s small, that gives you quick wins, that are measurable and then you can go from there. Small gains in efficiencies could have a massive impact later if you factor in the cost of these time savings over a year. Digital transformation is happening in any case so you don’t need to try and boil the ocean!”
If you'd like to hear more advice from Rob and Paolo, this interview was recorded as a panel session for Ignite Live, which you can watch here.
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