How businesses will succeed in the post Covid-19 era

Many of us have had to adapt to new remote reality made possible through advances in networks and communication tools which have allowed collaborative working and document sharing
Mike Smith

THE Covid-19 pandemic has challenged businesses across Northern Ireland.

But difficult times make us reflect on what is important. It has become increasingly apparent that fundamental infrastructure, backed by technology, is vital in keeping organisations going through times of challenge.

And these foundations also hold the potential to ensure business bounces back and prospers.

Working practices had been shifting before the health crisis, including a rise in remote working and the use of cloud-based software. But this pandemic has forced businesses to quickly adapt and implement new ways of working.

So many of us have had to adapt to the new, remote reality—made possible through advances in networks and communication tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. These have allowed collaborative working and document sharing to continue as unhindered as possible.

These new ways of working aren’t going to disappear. First Minister Arlene Foster has said that businesses will need to “prepare for a new normal”, even after the initial impacts of Covid-19 have subsided. Instead of being scaled back, the remote workforce in Northern Ireland looks set to expand.

And that means businesses need to be getting ready to meet these new needs as an everyday circumstance, not an extraordinary one. They must be ready to facilitate collaboration and creativity and need to be confident they can serve clients and customers efficiently and effectively.

As well as collaboration and seamless connectivity between staff, businesses also need to improve the online experience for customers. With everyone stuck at home, even more people are buying online – a trend that’s likely to continue.

Consumers expect to make online purchases in a flash, much like employees expect a fast, resilient service. This is another reality Northern Irish business will need to adapt to.

The way to achieve all this is to invest in networking infrastructure - capable of dealing with whatever challenge may be thrown at it.

Networks are at the heart of an organisation. They are the fundamental ingredient allowing business to continue and staff to excel.

Without them, we wouldn’t be able to hold video calls, screen-sharing sessions and conference calls that have replaced office interactions. They are crucial in supporting future technologies that will permit longer-term shifts in working practices.

Investment in this infrastructure will provide Northern Irish businesses with scalable and secure foundations – empowering a workforce with next-generation networks that channel information between buildings, employees and data centres quickly and securely.

They are also the fuel for transforming customer journeys, providing the speed, scalability and security local businesses need to propel themselves towards success post Covid-19.

Crucially, local businesses don’t need to rip out legacy systems or begin an overwhelming transformation project to prepare for this. By choosing the right technology partner and provider, they can set in motion extraordinary outcomes through small, incremental changes, positioning themselves for long-term prosperity.

:: Mike Smith is managing director (direct) at Virgin Media Business

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