• Andréa Nadeau

Technology considerations during COVID-19 recovery

A quarter into virtual-first business models, small and medium sized businesses must continue to focus on optimizing their technology stacks.

Cyber threats and data breach reporting is increasing:

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, between March 6th and May 25th, there have been 1,005 Canadian reports of COVID-19 fraud, account for a loss of $1.8 million. Small and medium sized businesses are increasingly targeted with sophisticated strikes from organized crime, state actors and insiders, ranging from data breaches, to phishing scams, and increasingly creditor impersonation and ransomware attacks. Many Canadian businesses lack Cyber insurance. This is a key requirement moving forward with increased focus on virtual services and E-commerce expansion.

Some organizations are struggling with security patch management, as employees are not connecting through VPN to their networks on a regular basis. This is a going concern. Further, there must be more consideration placed to safeguarding against data breaches for teleworking employees. There have been instances, where children have captured screens of corporate laptops and accidentally shared the content through Youtube or TikTok videos. Moreover, simultaneous business calls running in open-concept houses have led to unintended breaches. Organizations may want to consider investing in privacy screens for laptops, better noise cancelling headset solutions for these employees.

Supply chains continue to be taxed and inaccurately captured by inventory management solutions:

Organizations are experiencing supply chain blocks on a daily basis. Business operations are challenged from physical building access to shipping logistics. Access to raw materials and component parts is hindered either by supplier production or delivery delays. Service partners and customer interactions are subject to scrutiny under social distancing and sanitization requirements.

Accurate inventory at local stores, warehouses and third-party fulfilment partners is critical. Many organizations have not sufficiently diversified their supply chains. Now is the time to ensure domestic and where possible, local access to raw materials and components to safeguard against global or trans-border delays. This does mean spending significant time revisiting product offerings and price points, even if it means some margin erosion short-term, as a trade-off to customer churn. This should more than offset spend on customer service and product returns for orders that would otherwise be subject to unacceptable fulfilment delays that could negatively impact brand and reputation.

Time is a key attribute in today's business environment - customers are increasingly frustrated with wait times for curbside pick-up and with inaccurate delivery timelines. Be transparent and conservative with fulfilment timelines and surprise and delight by delivering ahead of these forecasts. If using a third-party logistics partner, challenge them to meet their timelines or ask that they turn off notifications if they are inaccurate.

E-commerce, Digital and CRM investments are now foundational:

Businesses must evaluate the Return On Investment in scaling their digital experience. If you are selling goods, you must ensure an optimal online shopping experience from product viewing, to shopping cart experience. Selling online also means zooming in on critical infrastructure - understand site traffic patterns, shopping time, peak hours. Work with cloud providers to ensure uplift where required. Be customer focused when addressing site maintenance requirements.

We are now entering the golden age of Artificial Intelligence. Investing in machine learning and predictive routing analytics capabilities with CRMs, Inventory Management and Contact Centre applications is practical. Understand customer pain-points. Be proactive on subscription orders - these are your repeat customers. Be responsive with vouchers or coupons in cases where orders are delayed to do right by them. Consider how to build social selling models to provide them with offers to extend to their friends and family and reduce your direct marketing costs.

To learn more about technology considerations, join us for our lunch and learn: How to thrive in a COVID-19 world.

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