Fist bump. Foot tap. Head nod. Choose one to replace your usual handshake. Globally, people are changing the way they interact, as new cases of Coronavirus (Covid-19) are announced daily. Schools are being forced to shut and governments are mandating that businesses implement strategies to help limit the risk to their employees, and the rest of their citizens.
Consequently, remote work has become the strategy to minimize the risk of catching and spreading the virus. Many companies are now considering deploying technologies like video to stay connected and help them work more efficiently while staying safe.
For some first-person insight into this constantly evolving situation, we had a conversation with Dr. Kevin Ming, Director of Growth and AI at Enghouse Systems, the parent company of Enghouse Interactive. Dr. Ming recently visited China and shared his thoughts on what’s happening now, as well as how this situation will transform the global economy in the future. Here’s some of what was discussed:
Enghouse Interactive: Kevin, you’ve recently come back from a business trip to China and are in constant contact with some business partners there. How do you see the current situation developing and what do you see as the potential impacts we can expect?
Dr. Ming: With the growing concern about Covid-19, it’s very likely that this will impact the global economy and its workforce in ways that have still not been considered. China is actively encouraging its population to self-quarantine with strong encouragement to work from home as much as possible.
But, this isn’t the first time we’ve experienced this type of situation. In 2003, we saw the impact of the first well-publicized viral contagion, SARS. At that time, due to a lack of information coming from recognized health authorities, people started to panic – flooding Doctor Offices, Clinics, and Hospitals as soon as they felt sick. People avoided public places and their offices, staying home was the easiest way to reduce their risk.
Enghouse Interactive: As a result, the global economy slowed due to the demand for goods and services dropping significantly, at least for a while. But at the same time, astute businesses figured out that they could continue to operate if they enabled their staff to work from home, using whatever technology they had available, didn’t they?
Dr. Ming: Yes, that was an “aha” moment for many business leaders. They saw that technology could increase their agility and flexibility so that they could more easily deal with whatever situation arose.
At the same time, it triggered a lot of innovation. What came out of the SARS epidemic? Online Shopping. Non-postal delivery services. Teleworkers. High-speed communications infrastructures.
The question became – when stuck at home, how could you keep your household running smoothly? How could you earn a living and make sure you had all the stuff you need on a daily basis?
Enghouse Interactive: So what you’re saying is that SARS sparked one of the most significant commercial transformations ever…
Dr. Ming: Yes, and over the last decade, this transformation has only continued to accelerate.
As a result, today businesses benefit from a wider range of high-performance tools, capabilities, and services than ever before. This is in addition to drastically improved operational flexibility and increased business agility. Today, hyper-connected businesses understand that cloud-based collaboration and contact-center solutions can help ensure their organizations can operate no matter what the situation, and interact with their customers regardless of their preferred form of communication, be it SMS, video, email, voice, or social media… or threading them together all at the same time.
As a result, at the beginning of February, both Tencent and Alibaba became “go-to” solutions for companies across Asia trying to continue operations without having staff go to the office. Schools are also starting to use these tools in order to educate their students while they are at home.
Enghouse Interactive: So, innovative businesses understand that a worrisome situation is also a catalyst to drive forward with better technologies while transforming their business models. Today, we’re all concerned with making sure everyone gets through this safely. While, at the same time, we all know that life goes on and businesses need to continue operating.
Dr. Ming: Will this be transformative? Yes, most probably. This outbreak will likely accelerate the transformation of business everywhere for the better, with industry-leading businesses more aggressively adopting highly flexible and agile cloud technologies that ensure they are able to operate: However, whenever and wherever they choose.
Does your organization have technology in place to ensure smooth operations while employees work remotely?
We hope the Covid-19 outbreak does not unduly impact your organization or community. As you consider what you need to do to prepare, do not hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have about how Enghouse Vidyo, our cloud-based, remote-worker friendly video collaboration solution, can fit into your contingency planning. Contact Vidyo at 1.833.364.4688 (1-833-ENG-INTv) or Hello@enghouse.com