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The COVID crisis will draw a line between the time when digital transformation was a choice, and the time when it became inevitable. Even when the outbreak is contained, it is unlikely that the new state of normal will be exactly how we knew it to be. But for the time being, businesses are learning new ways to organize and communicate with a remote workforce and an isolated consumer. Companies that favored routine processes over tech upgrades will have to replace archaic workflows or risk becoming obsolete.
In this March 2020 Gitlab survey, 86% respondents said remote work is the future.
The good news is that never before has digital transformation been easier to attain. The “weightless world” that Diane Coyle mentions in her book where all economic activity takes place in digital form, is happening right now. And as always, leaders are finding creative opportunities to make the best use of technology and drive results. For example, Equinix CIO, Milind Wagle is using Zoom to support the needs of his 10,000 employees by having a 24/7 open “virtual tech bar” and “watercooler breaks” for casual remote conversations.
While the scale and speed of this shift is definitely inconvenient, it’s the perfect time to invest in technology and gear up for the future. Experts are suggesting that when all of this ends, there will be a wave of spending and businesses need to position themselves to take advantage of that. Here are some tools that will amplify your productivity and train your workforce for the demands of tomorrow.
Zoom for video conferencing and webinars
While it’s not the first video conferencing tool out there (hangouts and skype were still widely popular before the crisis) it has proven its versatility for businesses and personal connections. The nine-year-old start-up, currently valued at $49 billion and boasting 200 million daily users, at the time of writing, has become a poster-child of the work-from-home age. All that time (and cost) we were spending on travelling for meetings, can easily be replaced with this video conferencing app. Sure, there have been reports of safety (zoombombing) but Zoom has been proactive in installing features such as “waiting room” for video-participants to be screened before joining.
Slack for communication & collaboration
There’s plenty to love about this top business messaging app! Slack lovers often refer to the Android/iPhone fan rivalry when comparing the tool with other messaging apps – you don’t know what you’re missing until you start using it. While it costs more than its alternatives, Slack continues to be a major player in facilitating remote workspaces. Companies with multiple departments and a staggered workforce can benefit by communicating in groups called “channels”, exchange files, share screens, or communicate via phone or video.
Beanworks for accounts payable automation
The accounts payable (AP) automation software gives finance professionals full control over their AP workflow in a remote setting. Not only are manual processes conflicting to long-term growth, but also put limitations on teams working remotely. Approval delays, high invoice processing costs, payment delays & errors, auditing – everything takes a standstill without an automated solution when you’re working remotely. Beanworks integrates with major accounting systems, consolidates AP processes such as online vendor payment, invoice approval management and processes on a single platform. Teams that had installed the system before COVID are vouching for the efficacy of the software during this time.
Asana for project & task management
Asana’s reputation with major brands in the past has helped catapult its credibility during a crisis like COVID. The software makes project management incredibly easy and flexible. One of the top features of this remote tool is its ability to integrate with more than 100 apps including Gmail, Adobe Creative Cloud, Salesforce Dropbox, MailChimp and Slack. Asana claims that it can save more than 70 steps per week with its custom rules feature.
GSuite for education
In March, Javier Soltero, VP at GSuite received an email from his Europe team stating Italy’s Education Minister wants to know if Google can move the country’s school system online immediately. Several sleepless days and nights later, the service was available to millions of students across the country – and eventually across the globe. By the time schools finally re-open, mediators that resisted internet-based products, will have gone a good few months using Google Classroom to hold classes and distribute assignments. A complete switch back to pen and paper when everything gets back to normal, will be unlikely.
LastPass for password and username
When your business is going digital and the team is remote, LastPass helps teams store all their online accounts with passwords on a single platform. When working from home, a password manager tool such as LastPass mitigates cybersecurity risk. It removes the need to remember passwords for every online platform thus saving you the hassle of going through the “Forgot Password” step.
Zapier for linking all applications online
Zapier is an automation tool that links over 2000 applications so you can skip steps like downloading an image from email and saving it in Dropbox. Touted as a productivity tool, Zapier automates your workflows and claims to save teams 24 days per year. Zapier started off with three founders and has been running successfully with a 100% remote team that operates from 28 countries.
Trello for easy project management
If remote work is a new practice for your business, Trello might be a great project management tool to start off with. This easy-to-adapt free tool contains a board of lists with cards that can be used by managers or team leads. Teams can communicate using comments, labels and due dates, and attach files to boards. With an option to invite people to visual boards, teams can easily interact and collaborate to accomplish tasks.
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