While the crisis is far from over, many businesses are dusting themselves off and figuring out next steps as economic activity picks up. Right now – and perhaps for a long time to come – businesses can’t go on operating as they always have. But it’s not easy to plan when the future is so unclear.
The pandemic has hit multiple sectors hard, particularly hospitality and tourism. Many companies have been forced to reduce their operations or halt business altogether.
On the other side of the spectrum, the global shift to social distancing and working from home has created a massive and unprecedented spike in demand for online products and services – with a positive impact on technology and online retail businesses. Forbes, for example, recently published a list of companies that prospered during the pandemic, ranking Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Tesla and Tencent in the top five.
Regardless of whether they’ve been negatively or positively impacted by the crisis thus far, it’s vital for all organisations to prepare and build resilience for the future, come what may.
Without a clear plan, businesses will struggle to make strategic choices that shape a smooth path out of the pandemic – or through the next wave of infections. That being said, given how uncertain we are about the pandemic’s evolution, these plans need to be agile and account for a number of different scenarios.
According to a recent report by Gartner, enterprises need to prepare for three phases of pandemic recovery:
- A ‘Respond’ phase, prompted by lockdowns
- A ‘Recover’ phase once their industry sector and country comes out of lockdown
- A ‘Renew’ phase once the macroeconomic environment stabilises
This is not a linear journey. At any point, new patterns of infection or entirely new pandemics could emerge, bringing us back to square one. It is therefore critical to plan for a range of possible outcomes. This way, leaders can plan on where to focus investment, reduce costs, allocate resources and so forth.
Can technology help?
During the pandemic, it quickly became clear that inefficient processes become completely defunct in a crisis. For instance, social distancing has made many manual, paper-heavy workflows impossible to sustain. Companies are now opening their minds to innovation powered by technology.
Those that have deferred adopting technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) and low-code automation, are now turning to these solutions to cut costs, manage dispersed staff and provide faster service to customers.
But companies can’t afford to wait months for the process automation solutions they need. Rather than relying on traditional application development methods, low-code process automation technology – which supports rapid development with minimal coding – allows companies to accelerate time to market for new automation assets.
Why low code?
Automation can reduce manual work to save time and effort. It also turns paper-based tasks into digital workloads that are much easier to monitor and manage. Low-code automation delivers these benefits much faster and more flexibly – supporting a lean operating environment that can pivot to suit new pandemic phases.
Outlined below are five ways in which low-code process automation can help businesses weather change going forward.
1. Power remote teams
Low-code solutions make it easy for remote teams to collaborate with each other – automating the flow of activities from one resource to another, whether it’s a human or digital worker. Low-code software also connects systems together, so people can work with data from SharePoint, Google Drive, Box and other systems no matter whether they’re in the office or at home. This way, teams can easily create, share and update documents and files from anywhere, in real-time.
2. Comply with new regulations
Digital processes provide an instant audit trail of every process step. This helps to provide evidence of compliance at a time when regulations are constantly changing; and regulatory authorities expect organisations to demonstrate that they’re on the right side of the law.
3. Cut costs and boost operational agility
Automation supports lower-cost, leaner operations when organisations are under financial pressure. With speedy development cycle times, it’s also easy to adjust and update process automation solutions to meet new demands and challenges.
4. Rethink the customer experience
As social distancing rules are ramped up and down, you’ll need to swiftly adapt the way you serve and interact with customers. Low-code tools allow you to deliver new solutions for managing customer-facing processes within a matter of weeks (even days in some cases).
5. Seek new sources of revenue
Going forward, bricks and mortar businesses – from retail stores to healthcare practitioners – may offer more and more services via digital rather than physical channels. This could help them to grow and prosper in ways they may never have imagined before the pandemic. Low-code automation can be quickly scaled through any enterprise, helping businesses become digital.
6. Looking forward
Automation provides businesses with the capabilities to survive the pandemic and completely innovate the way they operate in a world beyond Covid-19.