The impact of the pandemic on professional and business services has been significant.
Industries like facilities management, catering and recruitment all part of this vast sector, social distancing and other control measures have been particularly difficult to navigate. Unable to run events, meet new clients or supply food and beverages to offices, we’ve seen a lot of businesses unable to provide their usual offerings. Luckily, however, many of the customers that I’ve spoken to in the sector have been able to rely on digital transformation technology to stay operational. And, as restrictions around the world begin to ease, other companies can draw from these examples and put in place different ways of working that will ensure greater flexibility in the future.
For those in the sector that have continued to operate, working remotely has become the ‘new normal’. Many large organisations already had work-from-home plans in place, making the transition relatively smooth. For others, however, the concept of remote working simply wasn’t on the cards, so the entire process, from initial plans to network set-up has had to take place as quickly as possible. One example of this is recruitment, which involves significant face-to-face communication and extensive high street presence. The key challenge for these businesses was how to accelerate a programme of change that allowed a remote business model, almost overnight.
Technology leads the way as companies adapt
Office-based business services have been quickest to adapt, using technology that already exists to adjust their practices. Where face-to-face meetings were standard, virtual meeting technology, alongside videos and podcasts have become new ways to add a personal touch. Similarly, collaborative workplace processes such as document sharing and automated upload of key resources like client CVs have also been adopted. Transformations like these have not only allowed businesses to navigate the ever-changing landscape, they’ve also helped many to become more productive and led to significant savings with regard to travel expenses and office costs. Now, from company audits to job interviews, it’s possible to do it all remotely.
Even industries like catering have been able to turn to technology when re-evaluating business models. As many catering firms operate globally, various operations around the world have shown us how to prioritise safety with managed re-openings. Cashless technology and self-service kiosks are just some examples of technologies we’ve seen trialled and accelerated, along with sensor technology to help with supply chain efficiencies. Ultimately, in some cases the use of innovative technology is the key to reducing human interaction to safer levels while also dispensing products and services as quickly as possible.
Security and user-adoption are key
Transitioning to digital ways of working is not without difficulty. In my experience many large organisations find the execution of their transformation plans slowed by both convoluted approval processes and a lack of agility. Equally, there’s often hesitation from employees, many of whom want to continue operating primarily face-to-face or who are simply concerned about their ability to be productive and enjoy their role as it transitions to a remote, digital one.
Some of the hesitancy around digital transformation also relates to security. With so many in the business and professional services sector dealing with sensitive information, it’s vital that accelerated change doesn’t put this at risk. From recruitment firms dealing with CVs, passports and sensitive individual details, to professional services organisations that process huge amounts of accounting and financial data — security has to be prioritised.
Shaping an end-to-end solution that’s built to last
Once regarded as low on the agenda and confined to five-year plans, network investment is now a focus for many businesses. Strong network connections to teams and customers has been a key factor in the businesses that have thrived during the pandemic. Failure to accelerate network and digital roadmaps is now bad for business, and that takes a huge element of risk out of the business case.
Ultimately, pressure is mounting for a network solution that’s more digital, globally distributed and data focussed. Not to mention more efficient and cost-effective. It’s also vital that professional services firms, often regarded by their clients as aspirational in terms of innovation, have access to all the latest network technology. New software-defined services, cloud capability and network options are an excellent starting point for creating the secure, dynamic network the professional and business services industry needs. One that’s agile enough to adapt as new business models develop.
SD-WAN enables better experience on complex business critical applications – making operations more effective and productive. Greater bandwidth also supports new digital and automated business models – like simpler recruitment processes. Better connectivity means sales, service and contact centre staff can collaborate efficiently regardless of location – leading to better customer experience.
Blending that network with the right combination of cloud services can connect your sites and your people with optimised private data centres, giving all those who rely on them the right experience. Analytics, automation, portals, machine learning and AI can give you new data insight and control, helping you to make better business decisions.
It takes more than tech to shape a global network
Technology alone is not the answer. For digital transformation to be truly successful, global business and professional services organisations also need an infrastructure with the right security, service and management.
We have a wealth of experience in network transformations and in developing software-defined solutions. We’ve delivered thousands of solutions globally with our ever-increasing choice of secure services and solutions. During the pandemic, we helped customers across every sector extend bandwidth to support the move to homeworking securely – often in a matter of hours.
Our approach means that multiple technologies and legacy systems can be easily managed to create a single, secure global network infrastructure for your business. Through our broad portfolio of solutions, we can easily integrate with the collaboration applications, data and third-party cloud providers you need globally. Then our end-to-end management of your entire solution simplifies operations for you – and improves user experience for your team and your customers.
Most importantly, we’re constantly updating our solutions, so as you move into a software-defined world, your solution is guaranteed to evolve with you.
The shape of things to come
Digital transformation has been accelerated by the pandemic – but, in doing so, it will transform the future of business. Through our expertise and choice of SD-WAN technology, network, cloud, security and management services, we can help you shape the future of your business too.
Get in touch or read ‘Shape your future infrastructure: A proposal’ for more detailed information on how we can guide your transformation