If you own or manage a business right now your top priority will be how to keep trading. With over 5.9 million SMEs in the UK, 2021 is set to be a defining year. Faced with cautious customers, continuing pandemic restrictions and economic downturns, you’ll be thinking about how best to keep going.
A key strategy in your business armour is your ICT. Whether it’s keeping employees productive at home, offering shoppers the opportunity to buy online, or using digital contact tracing it’s vital that your technology performs at its best.
Business online during the pandemic
People are asking which businesses are doing well during the pandemic. The answer is it is those businesses who are able to operate digitally and online and who do not rely on face-to-face interactions. Whether it’s putting your goods and services online or enabling your staff to work remotely, reliable IT has become key.
However, according to OECD data, only 18% of EU27 and UK small businesses traded online in 2017, compared to 43% of large companies. Before the crisis, more than 90% of European SMEs consider themselves lagging behind in digital innovation. Now is a good time to re-think your business strategy.
The last 30 years or so have seen the work realm transformed by affordable hardware and software, by the internet and then by mobile devices making the world available in our pockets. It’s important that businesses build up and protect their critical IT services from disruption to ensure customer service continuity during the pandemic
Smaller firms have been increasing their online presence for some time. However, since physical shops and face-to-face services have had to close during lockdowns, now they are being advised to improve their digital presence to survive. It’s more important than ever to be agile and respond to where the opportunities lay – above all, this means offering e-commerce on your website and excellent customer communications. Online businesses during the pandemic are even being advised to offer video consultations to customers when they have queries.
Online shopping has surged during the worst times of the pandemic – up by 50% in the UK according to some industry analysts with grocery retailers amongst the winners. However, with more customers wanting to stay local, smaller and independent businesses have had their chance to shine.
Elsewhere, established business have adopted different models – one UK soap retailer has turned its high street stores into “dark stores” – retail outlets that cater exclusively for online shopping. Meanwhile a Chinese e-commerce giant has started to blur the boundary between ‘brick or click’ shopping: at its supermarkets there are some items for sale but mostly customers scan the QR codes of their regular items for home delivery. It will be interesting to see if this blurring catches on elsewhere in the UK.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, the number of new companies being created in the UK compared with last year has actually soared in the second half of 2020, according to the ONS. Often it’s a case of workers who had become unemployed but in others it was people wanting to work from home or those on furlough being able to explore their business ideas. Their online businesses started small online, often via Facebook and Instagram at first, before branching out.
The pandemic is said to have acted as a catalyst for online growth, speeding up business changes which were precited for some time.
Not all your staff will need to travel into a shared workplace. Throughout the pandemic the government has frequently advised employees to work from home where possible. Many employers and workers have adapted to the new way of working. In fact many have found home working to be more productive. However, thrown suddenly into remote-working, a common bugbear is their remote working setup. Complexity problems or failures in broadband connections, IT equipment and software can hamper their work and slow down productivity.
Proximity Contact Tracing
We have yet to see how businesses will change after coronavirus. For the medium-term workplaces, retailers, leisure centres etc. may well need to retain some Covid-aware measures. For example, some social distancing and extra-hygiene. Coronavirus may also remain a notifiable disease.
Proximity Contact Tracing by 360ict is an excellent way for employers to trace, map, contact and alert customers, staff and visitors if someone is found COVID-19 positive on your premises. It simply installs onto existing WIFI or as a new installation and works by tracking the Bluetooth ID of a device to record movements and interactions.
If you’re a larger firm you might have dedicated IT staff or, if you’re a smaller business you’re relying on a staff member who knows most about technology. You might even be trying to battle on with your own IT knowledge. Sometimes firms just need extra IT support for busy times or a special project.
The problem is that you and your staff keep being diverted from their core jobs. It’s a common problem amongst SMEs.
One solution is to opt for reliable IT support services help. When it comes to IT support, a common demand by business-owners is for instant and pro-active IT support. This means that there’s always expert help available to deal with IT headaches leaving you free to get on with your business.
IT support can be surprisingly affordable especially when you weigh up time lost to IT problems such as:
- System failures
- Email malfunctions
- User problems e.g. forgotten passwords
- Connectivity issues
- Slow networks
- Virus & security threats
The right IT support can make a critical difference to your company’s performance.
360ict Ltd specialises in helping small businesses and provides complete IT infrastructure cover, with instant user support and remote installations. Tell us what IT headaches are stopping your business from growing, thriving and even surviving in this climate – we’d love to help.
Get 50% off our Premium Support Service until the end of March 2021.
If you need help, 360ict offers an excellent IT support service to set you up and then help maintain or troubleshoot any problems with your remote digital tools.