The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on businesses of all shapes and sizes, and large enterprises are no exception.
Many corporations were exposed in several areas. Some suffered due to a lack of preparedness from an infrastructure standpoint. Others faced new cybersecurity threats. IT and customer service teams struggled to keep up when they are expected to provide answers and solutions.
Now that a few weeks (almost months) have passed, enterprises and their service teams have started to catch up. But with no predictable end in sight, companies are looking ahead to remote work as a viable long-term solution, pandemic or not.
In this article, we’ll summarize what’s happened, some of our top lessons learned and why unified communications (UC) should be part of your corporate plan moving forward.
Lack of Preparedness
Lots of companies and workers simply were not prepared to work from home.
Large organizations and office spaces for those doing high-tech work generally have hard-wired, powerful computers with high-speed internet and all the tools and programs staff needs to do their jobs efficiently and correctly.
Along with that comes screens (perhaps several), webcams, headsets, printers, photography and lighting equipment… not to mention comfortable ergonomic chairs, standing desks, office supplies, conference rooms, fancy coffee makers (ok, maybe you have those at home too) and other “essential” office comforts.
When relocated to a home setting on short notice, those same comforts are not as feasible. Many of us have been working on small laptops, without our extra screens, working off WiFi with the bandwidth for a small family. Even if you ordered some of the devices online such as webcams or headsets, many providers of them were not able to fulfill orders and still are backlogged.
One example that highlights how far-reaching these impacts were can be traced to fans of the sci-fi television show, The Walking Dead. Season 10 of the show was set to conclude on April 12th. Filming had been completed, but by the time the pandemic hit, all the post-production was not able to be completed remotely as AMC’s creative teams did not have the technology to do so. As a result, the air date for the episode has been pushed to an indefinite date later this year.
A final area where there was an overall lack of preparedness, and rightfully so, was for workers who are parents or own pets. Employees and executives already were not prepared to work from home, let alone having to do so while serving as a babysitter, makeshift teacher or dog walker. With kids around, particularly if you don’t have a designated workspace or a door you can shut like you would in an office, it can be increasingly difficult to be productive.
As many workers have shifted to working from home, they’ve joined a digital world where cybercriminals have already been living.
Hackers have used the pandemic as an opportunity to take advantage of businesses and individuals. For those in Telehealth, a unique set of cybersecurity and legal concerns come into play, as doctors are having virtual appointments with patients.
If you’re working from home, you’re likely not on a private network, using powerful antivirus software or accessing files and data on a secure server. As we discussed above, there are also internet connectivity concerns.
Companies may not have login or financial information stored securely on the Cloud, and without realizing the risks, shared access over email, chats, text messages, etc. This has resulted in a lot of sensitive information being exposed.
Phishing has also been a culprit, as many of us have been distracted and our minds have been in other places, and are just trying to get through each day without fully reviewing all the details in a particular email. They say the best defense is a strong offense, so it’s important teams are aware of the threats they are at risk for.
Video conferencing has skyrocketed during the pandemic, so much so that it might just be the future of how we conduct business.
To put things into perspective Zoom went from 10 million monthly users in December to 200 million monthly users in March, but according to TrustRadius, Intermedia AnyMeeting and Blackboard Collaborate showed even greater growth, percentage-wise at least. “Zoom Bombing” has also now become a reality, which Zoom and other companies have taken additional measures to prevent.
Some other popular video tools such as Google meetings have reported over 100 million daily meeting participants, and other players are joining the game. Facebook, for example, recently launched their own enterprise collaboration tool called Workplace.
The days of leaving the office for big corporate or client meetings might be gone, or reserved for special scenarios only now that many large enterprises have been able to conduct most business activities remotely.
It’s also noting that along with video conferencing, electronic signature software has also seen a big jump. While we’ve been trending towards less paper in the workplace for a while now, this will look continue even further.
Customer Service & IT Confusion
Contact centers, customer service and IT teams are often a beacon of calm and serenity. They are the ones, when all else fails, that have a solution to clients and users problems. Think of them as insurance for your enterprise.
When the pandemic began, for many enterprise support teams, it was like the wild west. They were scrambling to set their operations remotely and adjust to the real world health concerns we were all experiencing, while trying to solve technical problems they could not fully understand.
This left those same clients and users even more frustrated than they already were as they tried to provide goods or services to their own customers. In order to be successful for the remainder of this time and in the future, contact centers need to stay agile and always prepared for spikes in activity so they can maintain business continuity.
So, what comes next? For starters, remote work might be considered a long-term solution for companies looking to save on their overhead costs. Imagine being able to eliminate the added costs or rent, utilities and supplies? Yea, they’d still need to reinvest it in added technology, software and other resources, but the overall savings would be astronomical.
When it comes to IT teams and customer service centers, those who don’t leverage unified communications might reconsider, and those who are, might double down after seeing the value it provided. It gave them the ability to support their agents during a time of high volume and equip them with the tools to solve problems.
Had they not had Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) solutions in place prior, they’d still be running around like a chicken with its head cut off, as many still are. This shift may show that unified communications will become the new office as it has proven to be an essential business function, while the space is non-essential.
At Nectar, we offer several products and services to help your enterprise plan for the future. Perspective offers voice monitoring software for VoIP quality assessments. CX Assurance is our customer experience testing and monitoring solution for Contact Center and IVR environments. Nectar 10 is a platform that offers powerful and easy-to-use diagnostics and reporting. If you have questions about any of them, we encourage you to reach out.