Over the last couple of decades, there has been an increase in the risk of natural and man-made disasters. Large-scale disasters are just one kind of crisis that can wreak havoc, both at the individual and enterprise levels. There is compelling evidence of the economic damage caused by extreme natural disasters. There are also other kinds of crises, such as the global recession of 2008 or the pandemic we are currently facing, which has caused massive disruptions in business.
How Technology Can Aid Businesses During A Crisis
The 2011 tsunami in Japan directly impacted the profit margins of several American businesses. In a globalized economy, a disaster in one country can have a ripple effect across the world. When the bottom line takes a hit, automation can be a business’s best friend.
In fact, automation is useful to mitigate a crisis of human resources. The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, for instance, saw prohibitory orders by governments over large gatherings. Essentially, fewer people could report to factories and offices. Today, AI and machine learning can take over daily tasks, such as customer service, to make up for the shortage. Even a simple self-help form on a business’s website can free up human resources for more complex tasks. The self-help form can answer key questions about the enterprise, such as the availability of services during the crisis.
Other ways technology can come to the rescue of businesses during a crisis are:
Thanks to digital technology, it is now possible for businesses to communicate rapidly and effectively with employees as well as customers. Video conferencing apps can be used to hold virtual meetings. Social media channels can be used to disseminate important information to customers in real-time. Apps such as Trello and Slack make collaboration with remote teams possible, which means businesses can continue functioning through a crisis.
The shift to digital is even more critical during a crisis. An enterprise’s website should act as the central hub for communication — both to inform customers as well as employees.
Crises result in a supply-demand gap. Data can be used to predict future demand, which is helpful for resource and inventory planning. For example, a global pandemic might severely affect people’s priorities. With less dispensable income, people might be more inclined to spend on necessities. An e-commerce company can use this information to pivot — in the case of the current pandemic — toward sourcing more health-related items, such as hand sanitizers, demand for which is likely to increase.
Similarly, it can be used to mitigate losses. Fashion retailers, for instance, can use flash sales to move old stock when people’s morale is at a low. Through the use of historical data, companies can scale down production of certain items. Predictive analytics is also useful for getting an idea of when a crisis will end. Such information is useful for managing liquidity and informing HR policies, among other things.
3. Alternative Revenue Models
Small businesses are particularly the hardest hit during any crisis and are more vulnerable to its economic impact. Many businesses must quickly adapt to stay relevant and consider new monetization models.
For instance, travel portals might offer virtual tours of destinations for a monthly subscription. Similarly, agencies that specialize in live performance events can shift online and offer exclusive paid content to stay engaged with both fans and artists.
At the end of the day, it is about adapting to a crisis, and maybe use the crisis as an opportunity for creative problem-solving. The world has come a long way since the days of the Spanish flu. Today, it is possible to leverage technology in previously unimaginable ways. Be it real-time dissemination of information or new-age monetization models, technology can aid businesses willing to think out of the box.