For most of us, 2020 was a rough year, filled with economic and social unrest, political chaos, illness, and of course the first worldwide pandemic in more than 100 years. Are you ready to move on? I know I am. So, I have been excited to see so many analysts forecasting brighter days ahead. In fact, most indicate strong demand for information management technologies extending at least throughout 2021. Analysts with Twilio went so far as to declare COVID-19 the “digital accelerant of the decade.” It’s time for us to move past business survival mode and start executing plans that will let us thrive in the new year.
As you consider your business plans, make sure you’re thinking about the following areas that are expected to show strong growth in the months and years ahead. If you’re not yet selling and marketing to these business needs, 2021 is the year to start!
The hybrid workplace is here to stay
Several studies indicate that after the pandemic closed offices around the globe, many workers enjoyed the opportunity to work at home. In fact, as many as 40% would prefer never to return to full-time office-based work. Though some will maintain home offices indefinitely, most of us will divide our time between home and office going forward. What does this mean for you?
The rush to push employees home in response to COVID-19 exposed some gaps in the technologies used by many businesses. Though many put stopgaps in place, they’re now looking for more permanent solutions that will allow employees to work remotely as desired. Many businesses have extended work from home (WFH) policies well into 2021, and giants like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have publicly declared their intention to enable remote work as a permanent option for workers.
Customers still prefer cloud
The trend toward cloud technology has dominated the last decade, and the prevalence of remote work in 2020 will push even more applications into the cloud. The cloud simplifies installation and deployment of technologies for remote workers and improves cybersecurity and collaboration regardless of where employees are based. Make sure you offer full-featured document management as a cloud-based service to capture even more customers in 2021.
Remote work calls security and collaboration into question
Many employees are using email and file sharing applications to share files back and forth while working at home. Unfortunately, these options are not secure, and they can proliferate versions across desktops and systems to the point of ridiculousness. Cloud-based content management services offer a much more effective option.
Most systems include robust security settings at multiple levels, including document, user, group, function, and even specific content within a document. In addition, the companies that host cloud-based systems are leading experts in the physical and transmission security that helps block out potential hackers and secure everything from unauthorized access. By contrast, email messages are frequently hijacked in between accounts to be viewed by criminals and file-sharing applications are as simple to hack as a single lazy password.
In addition, cloud-based content services nearly always include version control capabilities that help ensure users work with the most current content and never overwrite one another’s work. Effective collaboration can reduce anxiety and frustration while filling workers with a genuine appreciation for one another’s efforts — in a season when this emotional resilience is desperately needed within organizations.
Automation eases process woes
During tough economic times, businesses must look inward to develop process efficiencies that reduce costs. Not only should you be doing so for your own company’s customer service, sales, and implementation processes, but you’ll also want to reach out to all your customers with ideas for how they can become more effective. Further, remote work exposed process gaps that required some employees to return to the office for certain work functions in a time when it put them at risk and companies could not afford the inefficiency.
Process automation is especially beneficial for accounts payable when invoice processing costs skyrocket because remote employees must physically touch invoices. It is equally beneficial for human resources where similar expenses pile up for hiring, annual reviews, benefits management, and other processes each time an employee record must be touched. Consider specific marketing campaigns targeted to leadership of these two business functions to be a critical first quarter strategy for your organization. It’ll fill your sales pipeline with potential revenue and help keep you busy and successful throughout 2021.
It starts with mail
For those with a scanning bureau, my final tip is to set up a digital mailroom to process incoming physical and electronic mail for your customers. To do so, your customers change physical mailing addresses and email accounts with suppliers so invoices and other paper-based communications come directly to your location. Once scanned/organized and indexed, you deliver information directly into automated processes via an information management system, so your customer’s business won’t miss a beat when people are not in the office to receive incoming messages. It’s the ultimate in process automation and digital transformation!
You’ve got this!
If you’ve been stuck in a negative or anxiety-filled 2020, look up … better days are ahead. Plan now to execute marketing efforts that let prospects know you can help with technology goals related to our new work from home (WFH) reality. Focus on remote security and collaboration to catch the eye of many companies who have discovered their in-office habits simply don’t work when people are physically distant from one another. Execute long-term plans to build process automation into every customer account you have or want to have, as this trend is expected to dominate the next decade of technology purchases. And finally, if you run a scanning bureau, start putting the components of a digital mailroom in place, so you can help organizations who are struggling to receive and process incoming mail and email efficiently while working remotely. As you execute these strategies, your business will thrive in the year ahead.