In this , Aaron Lindstrom, Regional Head of Transformation and Digital Partnerships, will discuss the impact of COVID-19, how businesses have transformed, and finding opportunities even during these uncertain times.
Q: Businesses have had to change how they operate across the board. Collaborating, travelling, events, marketing, sales, finance, everything. From your perspective, what stands out the most as far as how B2B companies and their employees are adapting right now?
Answer: I think a lot of this can be summarized by a funny little meme that's going around social media that asks, "Who led digital transformation of your company? Was it the CEO, the CTO or COVID-19?" And of course, COVID-19 has a big circle around it. And we joke about that in the transformation world, but obviously, this situation has created unprecedented digitalization and transformation in almost every industry. It's really the first time, at least in our lifetimes, if not globally, that this kind of disruptive event has happened that's really impacted every aspect of trade, every sector across the board, positively in some but negatively in most.
And so it is really interesting to watch how companies react. Obviously, there's been a big push to get all noncritical employees out of common areas. We joke around, it's no longer work-life balance, it is work-life integration, that work is with you wherever you go constantly, 24/7. And that's been one of the biggest impacts, I think, on most of the people, both within the company and within our other partners, is really the idea of working on demand as many hours as it takes to get the job done and really striving to find that balance between your personal needs and your professional needs. And then obviously, there's been disruptions in the supply chain, shortages in toilet paper, if you're a Costco user, all kinds of things like that that have impacted us on both a personal and professional level.
Q: Some well-known brands like Groupon, Instagram and Slack were started in the Great Recession. What are your thoughts on innovating and finding opportunities even in this extremely difficult environment?
Answer: Well, one of the silver linings is that every major disruptive event certainly causes a radical transformation and innovation throughout the world. In this specific situation that we're dealing with today, we're really looking at a shift in how we utilize our workforce. You have companies like Twitter that have come out and announced that they are going to allow all of their employees to remain home for as long as they would like up to, and including, indefinitely. It really changes the landscape of this need to have large real estate investments and open offices for collaboration. People are really learning how to digitally partner. A few years ago this interview would have been the two of us in the same room, at the same time, with lots of camera equipment. And now, we're able to stand this kind of stuff up across the country on our phones.
So I think you will see a lot of technology coming out of this situation and it's going to impact every sector of our life - how we travel, our leisure activities, even media delivery. You see that the streaming services are booming right now while traditional movie theater is obviously not doing so well. But the other thing to remember is that it is a great time to seize that opportunity. And it is cyclical in nature. You mentioned the Roaring Twenties following the Spanish flu pandemic. And we all know that the end of the 1920s, entered the Great Depression, right? So we have these periods of innovation and economic boom followed by really difficult situations. So I think for the innovators out there, it is a great time to launch. In the coming months, we should see everything up into the right, and there's really no better time to launch an innovative or radical transformation than on the upswing of the downturn.
Q: We hear the phrase "new normal" a lot right now. A lot of new business practices, working from home, what you mentioned as far as streaming services, are all good examples. Any thoughts on which of these kind of impromptu, need-based changes you expect companies to maybe adopt as more like long-term even after this crisis passes by?
Answer: When this all occurred, we think back to early March, as states in the US began to go into quarantine or travel bans, there was no schooling at all for children in most geographies. Well, now we have remote learning and next month, we'll have something else. And next month is whatever summer vacation follows after that. And so I think that companies need to be cognizant that it is a very fluid situation right now. I definitely think that technologies that will stick are typically technologies that will encourage remote participation and online joint collaboration. I think you're going to see more technologies that do this across company.
And I really think that anybody in the technology sector is going to be positively impacted by this. But I also think you're going to see some really radical transformation in supply chain, in consumer product delivery, in the nature of retail and entertainment. We have to remember that things like streaming services and collaborative services, those were on the rise before COVID and I think they're going to continue to rise after. I also think that you're going to see events that have unfolded, for example, in Wuhan, the revenge economy, where people are going to go out and spend money on novel new things that they never would've spent money on before, just because they can. And then that's going to change business practices. That's going to change finance markets, credit markets. It's going to be very fluid for at least the next three to four months, if not longer. Companies just need to stay open and evaluate what technologies they've implemented, what process changes they've implemented, and continue to innovate from there.