Episode 39 - Business is Never Going to be the Same
Understanding the pivot point that business finds itself after COVID 19
Cloud Conventions, that likely will be the industry’s largest virtual trade show and conference, takes on a higher purpose. Even though our event is not until May, we know that survival is still going to be an issue for many partners and vendors well into late spring and summer. But even more than that, this disruption is going to lead to business process changes, innovation through technology, and a strong push toward virtualization of the workforce at every level. This podcast focuses on why you and why your customers need to recognize that businesses will be changed forever, and you will be the ones to drive that change.
There have been certain times when I became aware that life was never going to be the same for me again. When I was young, that epiphany came when I decided to skip my last year in high school and go to college at age 16. In my relationships, it came when I divorced my first husband after 17 years and remarried 7 years later. And tragically, it came again when my daughter Laura overdosed and died 2 years ago after losing her battle with addiction.
If you reflect on your personal life, it’s easy to spot those pivot points when you know your life has taken a turn and will never be the same. But sometimes in business, change seems to happen more slowly so it may be harder to recognize when the way we do business is poised to make a change forever.
When we started Convey over 6 years ago, my good friend Curt Allen came to us and said that there was this new thing called “the Cloud” and he needed a better way to help his agents understand it so they could be ready to sell it. Cloud was a pivot point that shifted the way businesses functioned as their file server rooms went offline in favor of hosting applications in the cloud allowing those businesses to be agile, nimble, have new technology at their fingertips and run their businesses differently.
Without most of us knowing it, 9/11 was another major business pivot point. The planes hit the towers, airlines were grounded, and people were frightened. I owned a conferencing company whose revenue spiked in the days following as everyone became a conference call moderator or attendee so they could keep things going. But our business spiked and never tailed off.
9/11 forced and inspired business processes to change because people realized that they didn’t have to get on the road or jump on an airplane to get things done. Conference calls were simply more cost effective, more efficient and more collaborative. And the way we managed people changed because those in the field could now weigh in, their opinions were valuable and sought after, and employee satisfaction went way up. 9/11 was a business pivot point that changed so many things about the way we did business.
Now you know where I’m going with this by now. We are experiencing another business pivot point because we have been forced to stay home for an unbelievably long extended period of time and in order to stay in business, we have had to embrace virtualization on every level. This change in business circumstance will drive a change in business processes that will likely cause all businesses to pivot for the long-term. COVID 19 is not going to disappear magically on May 1 and send all the employees back to the office and have our restaurants and stores open back up. It’s going to be slow, gradual and for some of us life may not return to normal for quite a while.
So, here are things that companies need to be focused on to prepare themselves for the pivot that is here today and the longer-term pivot that is here to come.
Address urgent challenges first. You need to discern what is urgent vs. important and tackle things that are most urgent to keep business moving. In the telecommunications and cloud channel, it’s probably more urgent to have a plan for customers to engage with you virtually than to think about your spiff program for next quarter.
Support and protect your employees. People are uncertain about their employment status, about their ability to earn an income, about how to manage themselves in their living rooms with their kids buzzing around. It’s up to you to let them talk about what worries them and not just do your weekly conference call focused only on business issues. You will be called on to be a leader of people, a sounding board and a friend, not just a manager in your business.
Create a financial resilience plan. There are going to be some of your customers that are not coming back because their business did not make it. Other customers are not paying their bills right now for a variety of reasons. It’s up to you to learn everything you can about the loans and grants available to you and how to preserve cash to the extent you can. And be realistic about what payment and commissions are really coming in the door.
Develop a relaunch and return plan. You need to be thinking ahead. When social distancing starts to ease up, what is your next plan of action to not only get back to business but to start scaling again. We are lucky in the respect that we represent connectivity, technology, cloud services, all of which are the underpinnings of the must haves vs. the nice to haves in getting back to business. How do you take advantage of your position of privilege and use this disruption to grow?
Reimagine the next normal. Return does not mean that someone declares the crisis over, and we all go back to the office, back to trade shows or back to partner events. It’s not going to happen that way. Return will be in phases where there is the next normal, followed by the next normal. So, it’s up to you to think about not only what that means to your business, but what it means to the way your customers will operate.
These are all very difficult questions for a business to consider. You have to survive the disruption, protect your people, be ready for the next normal and understand how business is likely to have a sustained pivot as a result of the crisis. That’s where Cloud Conventions comes in. We planned our virtual event way back in January to complement other trade shows that we felt were underserving their attendee population by not offering enough interesting and innovative business content.
But now, Cloud Conventions, that likely will be the industry’s largest virtual trade show and conference, takes on a higher purpose. We have content, speakers, strategies and ideas to use as your survival guide. Even though our event is not until May, we know that survival is still going to be an issue for many partners and vendors well into late spring and summer. But even more than that, this disruption is going to lead to business process changes, innovation through technology, and a strong push toward virtualization of the workforce at every level.
You will have your choice of great thought leaders who are there to educate and inspire you and not try and sell you on their latest product. You can come to sessions that are short, fast paced and power packed and watch them live or robo-watch them later. Every content provider knows that their focus needs to help you understand how to manage your own business, be ready for the pivot that is to come, and reimagine how technology that you can sell today will serve the customer in the next normal.
We are here to keep you on track, and then empower you to get your customers ready to get their businesses back on track, whatever that track is going to be, as we slowly but surely return to our offices, to our customers and to our friends. Join us when Cloud Conventions opens on May 11th and make sure to register to attend, free of charge, as our gift to you.