By Thibault Dousson, General Manager at Lenovo Southern Africa
COVID-19 has redefined what we previously deemed as normal in all aspects of our lives. It has thrusted digital transformation to the forefront of the business arena and shown that if you cannot innovate and adapt to this new norm, then the end is imminent.
How consumers engage with businesses has also changed dramatically over the last few months, with technology and digital processes being more prevalent than ever. Companies that have been innovative, have made their products and services readily available, and could easily adapt to digital transformation stood a better chance of succeeding. Technology companies are a prime example of this, and they are well-positioned to thrive in this new norm.
Keeping up with times
The tech companies that continued to thrive throughout the pandemic are those that were poised for change. With consumers being home and already engaging in the digital space, whether it be for leisure or business, it was easy for tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft (with collaborative software) and Netflix to have a big financial and social impact. The result of this impact was driven by the services offered by these tech companies, as it was what consumers wanted and needed, thanks to the new reality created by COVID-19.
The repositioning of some of these companies was integral to their success, along with the use of e-commerce, collaboration with competitors, as well as thinking outside the box. A great example of this was Amazon. Even though the company’s business model is based on e-commerce, they still had to make a slight pivot when the pandemic hit. Amazon has never really done well in terms of food sales but by changing their business model to suit the needs of quarantined consumers, their sales skyrocketed.
Unfortunately, not all tech companies thrived during these times, mainly because their services were in opposition to Covid-19 lockdown regulations. Some examples here are tech companies associated with the tourism and transport industries. It is important that small businesses learn from these tech companies, the good and the bad lessons, as they have mapped out the blueprint of continuing to forge ahead even through adversity.
Survival, rather than growth, is at the forefront during a pandemic. And for a business to survive it is important to safeguard your business’ culture and reassure employees and customers of a better tomorrow while still making the pivotal shift to adapt to the times. Should a business reposition its tools and skills correctly, surviving undoubtedly turns into thriving.
Going increasingly digital
Working from home and going completely digital during the pandemic was something that Lenovo was ready for and all that was needed was to implement the structures that were already in place. Due to Lenovo being fully digitised, by the time the pandemic hit, the shift to employees working from home was seamless, and it was surprising just how much more productive everyone was under these circumstances.
However, once lockdown regulations were lowered, we became cognisant of the fact that some of our employees wanted to return to the office, under the correct protocols of course, as a result of their home working situations being less than ideal. This was due to a number of reasons, for example, lack of a proper workspace, distractions at home, or just needing to interact with co-workers. Collaborative work between co-workers and various teams was at the top of the reasoning list for employees to return to the office.
Although some of our employees choose to now be back at the office, our approach is still digital, especially as many people are still working from home. Lenovo has not lost any of the lessons taught by this lockdown, and continues to look for more innovative and efficient ways of working that provides our people with more flexibility and choice.
The success of this model has also resulted in us at Lenovo investing more into digital marketing and training, which included our annual Lenovo South African Channel Award going completely virtual, with our resellers, retailers and distributors not missing a beat. The event saw over 500 partners were glued to their screen on the 3rd of September, proving our ability to be agile and adapt to the times, whilst keeping our key stakeholders engaged. Furthermore, we also underwent thorough online training to learn about the latest Lenovo product ranges and services via live online training sessions, with participation being incentivised using Lenovo care packages and prizes that were distributed ahead of every session. This new norm still drew upon the inspiration of a one-to-one experience without contravening any COVID-19 protocols.
Weathering the storm and where to
Moving forward, it is paramount for businesses to understand the importance of digital transformation. By leveraging technologies such as the cloud and other remote working tools, businesses will continue to evolve and thus stay relevant. Most of us take for granted how Zoom, Google Hangout and Microsoft Teams kept us in touch with the working world. Although they have always existed, they were underutilised and can be said to have been the best tech innovations during this Covid-19 period. These applications gave businesses the opportunity to continue to connect and function in a world that had come to a standstill.
Tech companies have always been a step ahead because of their already digitised systems. The future is digital, is your business ready to embrace it?