How will your business prepare for business as usual?
As companies consider the next phase of their operations, many realize that plans to revert back to their traditional infrastructure are no longer an option. For instance, a recent Garter survey found that 88% of companies have employees working from home, and nearly all (97%) of organizations have canceled work-related travel. The need for technological innovation within your company is undeniable. The good news is that cloud technology offers the ideal vehicle to help your business grow amid global and organizational change.
Now is the time to rebuild your infrastructure to challenge conventional wisdom. As we consider three factors that are likely to remain after the crisis, let’s look at what technology can do to help transform your business operations to best meet those changes.
1. Social Distancing
A recent Harvard study estimates that social distancing restrictions are likely to remain in place long-term. “Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have warned that, in the absence of a vaccine or an effective treatment of the coronavirus, social-distancing measures may be required through to 2022,” reported CNBC.
But businesses are edging closer to reopening, which means remote work models may become a permanent work condition for many companies, along with the dilemma of personal engagement versus encounters that can best be conducted online. “The comfort of being in the presence of others might be replaced by a greater comfort with absence, especially with those we don’t know intimately,” said Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University. “Instead of asking, ‘Is there a reason to do this online?’ we’ll be asking, ‘Is there any good reason to do this in person?'”
In truth, flexible schedules were on the upward trend even before the COVID-19 crisis, with experts estimating that almost half (44%) of today’s workforce had transitioned to a remote work environment over the last five years.
The need for automation that enables employees to access data anytime and from anywhere has gained exposure over the past few months and has boosted cloud computing use across the board. Experts estimate that the cloud computing market is set to reach $295 billion by 2021.
“Businesses are using the cloud effectively to create resilient and disaster-averse systems anywhere across the globe to cater to a remote workforce and protect data and business application integrity as well,” reported MarketsandMarkets in the press release linked above. And nowhere is that more apparent than in tracking your customer’s buying cycle.
2. Billing Agility
The key to staying competitive in your industry needs more than just providing a great product; it requires efficiency. The fact is, your business simply cannot compromise on using a system that is quick to adapt to market changes and ensure your customer’s experience is secure by providing a hassle-free, accurate and rapid response to their expectations.
For many companies, CPQ (configure, price, quote) fulfilled those needs. According to a Gartner 2019 report, almost half (40%) of B2B e-commerce websites were using CPQ tools to calculate and deliver product pricing. And they predict a market with an annual growth rate of 20% in 2020.
One of the reasons why CPQ is so effective is that it caters to an off-premise billing system that doesn’t rely on a traditional infrastructure. These no-touch billing capabilities mean the customer’s invoice is automatically matched against a supporting document, such as a purchase order or contract, and sent for payment with no need for physical, manual handling. The advantages? Shorter lead time for customers and less data entry for your sales and finance teams. And by providing a central hub, users can access CPQ from any platform and coordinate with coworkers and customers from all over the world.
3. The Customer Remains King
While a customer’s environment may have changed due to the impact of the coronavirus, the desire for positive customer experience remains stronger than ever. Based on Salesforce data, 76% of customers think companies should understand their expectations and needs. But to connect with consumers, you need advanced analytical tools that can transform data into a customized experience and provide your sales team a comprehensive view of the customer’s profile to anticipate future needs.
“Digital-led experiences will continue to grow in popularity once the coronavirus is quelled, and companies that act quickly and innovate in their delivery model to help consumers navigate the pandemic safely and effectively will establish a strong advantage,” explained Rachel Diebner, Elizabeth Silliman, Kelly Ungerman, and Maxence Vancauwenberghe at McKinsey. “Now is also the time for customer experience (CX) leaders to position themselves at the forefront of the longer-term shifts in consumer behavior that result from this crisis. Keeping a real-time pulse on changing customer preferences and rapidly innovating to redesign journeys that matter to a very different context will be key.”
Automating essential steps in the buyer’s journey — such as pricing, quotes and order fulfillment — creates a win-win experience for you and your customers. With the recent changes in global commerce, customers, particularly those who purchase digital products or subscription-based services, have come to appreciate self-service options. And with customized self-service features such as those that include CPQ, your customer’s experience will be an effortless process providing access to order information or customer support when they want it.
Ultimately, you might need more than just automation of a few business processes. It’s more about an entire digital transformation. The journey is complex, and you will likely benefit from outside help. Here are a few tips to choose a partner:
• Find a partner with expertise in your vertical.
• Look for creativity and adaptability.
• Examine the partner’s internal resources and technical acumen.
As organizations venture into this new definition of “business as usual,” one thing that remains clear is the need for digital transformation. By using technology to navigate collaboration, using a streamlined billing process and designing an updated customer-centric strategy, your organization will be able to position itself for certain growth amid uncertain circumstances.