Selecting Platform Technology to Support Pandemic Business Trends
by Chris McLean, on Sep 16, 2021 7:15:00 AM
What has been the most significant motivator for your business to reassess (or even begin!) its approach to digital transformation? For many, the global disruptions caused by COVID-19 in 2020 spurred unanticipated needs for new technologies and new business processes. Since the very start of the pandemic, we have watched businesses large and small scramble to modernize. In many ways it seemed that with every new wave of COVID came a new wave of business trends to account for.
Take the food and beverage industry for example. Early on, restaurants rushed to update their systems to accommodate curb-side pickup. Then no-contact deliveries. As we continued to reopen in various phases, they needed to support clearly defined in-house reservations. This also called for paperless menus and payment processing. Local, regional, and national guidance has changed, and with that, many restaurants were required to communicate with their customers in greater detail and frequency than ever before – and with this came pressure to aggressively manage social media, websites, and other customer service channels.
What was initially thought of as temporary, quick-fixes to unprecedented operational issues has proven to be a long term evolutionary haul. Even in the pre-pandemic world we knew there is no real finish line. Businesses are always evolving. Consumer demands will continue to change over time.
Tips for Business Leaders When Selecting Platform Technology
While the pandemic is not over, if anything is absolutely clear, it may be that the future will remain unclear. The great scramble to modernize in 2020 left many companies adopting solutions that may have worked in the short-term but are not sustainable in the long-term. So how do you meet your most immediate platform needs while planning for a post-pandemic world? Here are three key tips for business leaders to consider when selecting technology services:
- Choose a platform that supports many of your business capabilities, not just one. A business is made up of a set of capabilities. For example, you may need the capability to deliver specific services, the capability to collect payments from customers, and the capability to market your services to a select population of potential customers. Many companies that failed digital transformation projects lasered in on each of these capabilities as singular initiatives and procurements, without thinking how they work together to complete a larger process. Bottom line: digital transformation isn’t just an IT investment – it has the ability to affect and enable your entire workforce and organization. Rather than have a platform for every business capability, assess your current and future needs across the entire organization to then select a platform that can address as many of these capabilities as possible.
- Take advantage of out of the box platform capabilities and existing best practices. Digital transformation does not always mean reinventing the wheel. Not only does modernization mean new technology, but it also means new processes for you and your employees. These processes need to be intentionally thought out, purposefully designed, which can be tough for business leaders with limited experience and limited time. Envisioning entirely new, complex processes that span many business units is not a quick exercise. The good news is many platforms come with native out-of-the-box functionality with built-in processes that can be used as a strong launch pad. These processes reflect industry best practice and are often designed to be flexible for individual needs.
- Ensure your platform technology is configured with the customer and employee experience in mind. Digital transformation does not just mean new user interfaces or the latest one-off tools. Any modern platform can be implemented from a technologically successful standpoint but also deliver a poor experience. Often software implementations fail to account for how internal and external users interact with the system, and how new processes connect to others that are unrelated to the platform. This leaves room for confusion, disconnect, redundancy and even just more work all around for workers. To avoid this common pitfall, design your customer and employee experiences upfront. You can do this using visual tools like customer persona development, service blueprints and customer journey mapping. These tools will help you understand the wants and needs of your customer and how with purposeful experience design and an updated platform can deliver the best employee and customer experience.
While trying to do the impossible – anticipating business trends post pandemic – you can still solve your immediate needs while giving your business the best launch pad you can for whatever comes next. Even the most current and advanced platforms may be the wrong solution your business. Every business is finding they quickly need to modernize in the wake of COVID, however, quick band-aid solutions are not the correct long-term answer for your company. Real modernization should be deliberate and well planned.
Platform-based Design Engineering (PDE) is one approach to platform selection that incorporates the tips above to ensure you achieve maximum business value from whichever vendor you do select. Watch our City of Innovation series that explores the art of the possible leveraging platform best practices and user experience optimization techniques applying this approach to real-world cases to address industry inefficiencies.
Speak to an expert to help you implement these tips and adapt your platform technology to support post pandemic business trends.