COVID-19’s effect on business can be described in one word, acceleration.
Businesses were pushed into hyperdrive to rapidly adapt to unprecedented circumstances or risk closure. The businesses that successfully pivoted their practices were the ones that were doing so all along – agile businesses equipped with action plans that foretold trends that would occur in the future.
At the end of this historic year, we want to take a look back at trends that emerged. Here are some 2020 trends that can make or break your business:
Empowering employees to create a data-driven culture at all levels
Managers, CEOs, and entrepreneurs relied on data to help make quick, confident decisions throughout 2020. Companies needed insights from multiple sources in a very short amount of time. Microsoft Power Bi proved to be the go-to self-service business intelligence and visualization tool during COVID-19 because it can generate high-quality data using built-in AI capabilities and Excel integration. Employees were able to share their findings with interactive, colorful visualizations that presented the information in an easily understood format.
Rapid digital transformation in sales
When countries started going into lockdown, it became quite apparent that there needed to be another way to sell products and merchandise offsite. This ushered in the rise of e-commerce and the need for companies to have apps to help with sales. Microsoft Dynamic 365 Commerce allows businesses to seamlessly run end-to-end commerce and streamline retail operations. Also, under its Power Platform, Power Apps enabled business owners to create low-code and low-cost mobile applications without needing any previous software experience. Now, SMEs have discovered that digital transformation is not a lofty goal but a reality that can be achieved much easier than expected.
New customer behaviour and expectations
When companies transitioned online, customer behavior changed alongside it. No longer confined to store hours, customers visited social media pages, websites, and mobile apps with the expectation that there would be someone waiting to greet them and have their questions answered 24/7. Companies turned to intelligent chatbots like Power Virtual Agents to fill this need and meet their new customer demands. Power Virtual Agents help automate frequently asked questions and escalate complex customer interactions to support teams without ever having an interruption in customer service.
Ability to scale at a moment’s notice
Companies small and large needed to handle increased loads remotely and Microsoft Azure – a cloud-computing service gave businesses access to more than 200 products that could build, run and manage applications across multiple clouds, on and offsite using the framework of their choice. They could rely on Azure to maintain and their operations and processes in a cost-effective manner. Cloud migration was essential to ensuring business continuity during COVID-19 and Azure also aided in disaster recovery during the transfer of large amounts of data that previously may have been lost with traditional onsite servers.
Remote work and hybrid work environments
The transition from working fully onsite to working from home affected employees in several different ways and required a holistic view of management and lots of support. Thankfully, tools such as Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams made technology the least of our worries. Employees maintained a sense of normalcy by using easily integrated Microsoft 365 applications such as Teams to continue collaboration and OneDrive cloud storage to store large work documents and keep it separate from their personal storage. As companies have returned to work, the priority remains the same as it did at the start of the pandemic – the health and safety of employees above all else. Learn what you can do to create a safe workplace by clicking here.
Not every trend in 2020 may carry over as is in 2021 however as the year comes to a close, businesses must reflect on the lessons learned and prepare for the year ahead. Prior to 2020, technology was sometimes treated like the icing on the company cake; a superfluous addition to a business rather than something integral to its core functioning. Not anymore. The best way to ensure business continuity is to invest in your company’s technology to increase your business resilience.