Can businesses still grow in a pandemic?

Can businesses still grow in a pandemic?
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The closing of borders during COVID-19 has not deterred some organisations from expanding into new markets. How did they do it? Think creative and use the cloud.

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COVID-19 has brought the world online as governments fought to contain the virus by closing borders and organisations rushed to digitalise their workforce. However, how does this impact businesses, and what does this mean for those looking to expand their market share?

In a Virtual Fireside Chat hosted by CloserStill Media, Expanding to International Markets with Cloud Communications, a panel of industry experts discussed the challenges of expanding their business in the midst of the pandemic.

Adapt to circumstances

For the insurance industry, Rajeev Ranjan, Vice President - Digital, Technology and Marketing Transformation at Aviva said businesses that are doing well shared a common characteristic –  there was no drop in their customer engagement process, from buying to servicing.

“One thing that everybody needs is to go location agnostic. This means that nothing should be existing anywhere, everything should be virtually somewhere on the cloud. We should be able to continue running the business as usual,” said Ranjan.

Cloud communication tools must also become the cornerstone for businesses as everyone goes remote.

“We do have consolidation of tools, before or even during the crisis. This is ongoing for most companies, especially when you have different departments moving into different strategies,” said Franco Chiam, General Manager - Digital and Innovation Lead at Daimler South East Asia.  

“I think that at the end of the day that, companies would want to maximise one or two communication tools to enable them the proper communication channel to have the greatest outreach to the different user groups.”

Matt Brown, VP Product at Bandwidth added about how the experience when adopting these tools would differ depending on whether the organisation relied exclusively on on-premises prior to the pandemic, or if they were using a hybrid cloud approach.

“For companies relying on on-premises prior to the pandemic, the journey to the cloud was difficult and painful. It was very hard to get feature parity for those organisations in the cloud,” said Brown.

“For companies operating on a hybrid cloud environment, the interoperability across all the applications inside the organisation became a real challenge.”

Be creative in overcoming challenges

Brown shared how in the expansion to new markets, that there are challenges in ensuring the consistency of experience across locations and being able to offer teams a similar set of features and functionality across all their sites. This becomes a ‘non-trivial problem to solve’ if you are in the cloud.

Additionally, there are the telecom regulations within every country to take note of. 

“Telecom regulations are quite complex. They are different in every single country and are oftentimes very difficult to navigate. Regulations and/or compliance in any given country is not a one-time event. Rather, it is an ongoing event,” said Brown.

“Particularly as we’ve seen regulators across Europe and Asia moving toward a regulatory tightening on who gets access to cloud-based services.”

For Daimler, an automotive producer, Chiam revealed the organisation was able to overcome resource challenges by using an outsourcing campaign to focus on a two-fold target requirement – while the company will concentrate on electric vehicles and R&D using cloud capabilities, their service providers will help to manage and ensure that their tools and deployment capabilities are disrupted.

“Every transition has its discomfort levels, especially in the early phase when project scopes are not clearly defined,” said Chiam on the outsourcing campaign.  

“What is important is to tell the users that it is not about moving away from what you are doing today or getting rid of your jobs. It is about putting aside what is not relevant for us as a company to focus on our skills and what we can develop as a value-add.”   

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© iTnews Asia
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