How Technology Can Support Businesses:
The risk of natural and man-made disasters has increased over the past few decades. A mass disaster is just one type of crisis that can wreak havoc on an individual and business level. There is compelling evidence of economic damage from extreme natural disasters. There are other types of crises, such as the global recession in 2008 or the pandemic we are currently facing, which have resulted in massive disruption to the business.
The 2011 tsunami in Japan directly affected the profit margins of several U.S. companies. In a globalized economy, a disaster in one country can have ripple effects around the world. Automation can be a business’s best friend when the bottom line takes a hit.
Automation helps ease the HR crisis. For example, during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the government imposed a ban on large gatherings. Essentially, fewer people can report to factories and offices. Today, artificial intelligence and machine learning can take over routine tasks, such as customer service, to make up for the shortfalls. Even a simple self-help form on a business website can free up human resources for more complex tasks. Self-help forms can answer key questions about businesses, such as service availability during a crisis.
Other ways technology can save businesses during a crisis are:
With the help of digital technology, businesses can now communicate quickly and effectively with employees and customers. Video conferencing applications can be used to hold virtual meetings. Social media channels can be used to disseminate important information to customers in real-time. Apps like Trello and Slack enable collaboration with remote teams, which means businesses can continue to operate during a crisis.
During a crisis, the transition to digital is even more critical. A business’s website should serve as the central hub for communication — not only to inform customers but also inform employees.
The crisis has created a gap between supply and demand. Data can be used to forecast future demand and aid in resource and inventory planning. For example, a global pandemic can seriously affect people’s priorities. With less distributable income, people may be more inclined to buy essentials. In the current pandemic situation, e-commerce companies can use this information to shift to sourcing more health-related items, such as hand sanitizer, for which demand is likely to increase.
Again, it can be used to mitigate losses. For example, fashion retailers can use flash sales to divert old stock when morale is low. By using historical data, companies can scale back production on certain items. Predictive analytics is also useful for knowing when a crisis will end. Such information is useful for managing mobility and informing human resource policies, among other things.
Alternative Income Models:
Small businesses are hit especially hard in any crisis and are more vulnerable to its economic fallout. Many businesses must adapt quickly to stay relevant and consider new profit models.
For example, a travel portal might offer virtual tours of a destination on a monthly subscription basis. Likewise, agencies specializing in live performance events can move online and offer exclusive paid content to stay engaged with fans and artists.
Ultimately, it’s about adapting to a crisis and possibly using it as an opportunity for creative problem-solving. The world has come a long way since the outbreak of the Spanish flu. Today, technology can be leveraged in previously unimaginable ways. Whether it’s the real-time dissemination of information or new-age monetization models, technology can help businesses that are willing to think outside the box.