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Tech solutions that can help

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How can technology help my organisation through the coronavirus crisis?

Chris Corlett is head of business development with MBS, a technology services company with over 300 clients in 40 countries – including many in Jersey. He replies:

When I agreed to write a series of articles on technology for the JEP back in January I had no idea what I was letting myself in for – the ultimate in ‘may you live in interesting times’!

In reality, Covid-19 is acting as a catalyst for many pre-existing underlying trends, not least customer demand for services to be available online, on any device (particularly their phone), 24 hours a day – now. So if anything, my planned articles are more relevant and pressing than I expected.

I have covered a range of topics about how good technology can make a big difference to real businesses, including:

Video-conferencing

Face-to-face communication is far more effective than emails or phone calls. Good video-conferencing systems boost productivity and staff welfare if you use them right as part of your wider digital transformation strategy. I now talk to business leaders who say their day is endless consecutive Zoom or Teams calls. This shows organisational weakness, not strength. It shows the business processes are so poorly documented and management information so limited that the only way to find out anything or get anything done is to spend all day talking to each other. Which brings me to my next point.

Eliminating paper and going digital

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The current crisis has exposed how paper-based processes are inefficient, ineffective, vulnerable and difficult to change. Moving to modern Enterprise Content Management systems can enable you to capture all information (documents, emails, spreadsheets, videos and much more) in one secure, easy-to-search place, with full records management for GDPR. Simply taking this step can boost productivity by over 10%, plus significantly improve security and business continuity.

Automating business processes

Once you have digital information you can pursue real digital transformation. You can use process automation tools including Workflow and RPA (Robotic Process Automation) to integrate all your systems to deliver better service, faster and more cost effectively than ever before. Leading systems also generate good real-time management information, giving you a clear picture of what is happening today – as well as what might go wrong in the future using predictive analytics. This is far more effective than spending all day on Zoom and Teams calls.

Cloud solutions

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Many businesses have been reluctant in the past to use Cloud solutions for fear of loss of control of their data. Frankly, leading Cloud providers deliver far more secure and reliable IT services than most businesses could ever manage themselves. The current crisis has illustrated this all too well and I have seen a sea change in attitudes such that many businesses are now keen to embrace Cloud solutions.

Electronic signatures

These are now vital to run any organisation. Attitudes have changed dramatically: who wants to touch paper that might have the virus on it? Also, how can we even get paper documents to people when our systems were designed to post from our office to theirs, but we are all working from home? As a result, take-up of e-signatures solutions has been huge. In a time of uncertainty, business seeks out strength: DocuSign has about 60% market share, plus it is the most trusted brand. It is the solution I would recommend to most businesses.

Electronic identification (e-ID)

This is a logical extension to e-signatures. Many businesses, particularly in financial and professional services, spend a great deal of time and money undertaking client due diligence processes, which have historically been highly manual and paper based. This is not fit for purpose in the ‘new normal’.

Leading e-ID providers, such as IDnow, have invested millions to develop sophisticated systems that can meet international legal and technical standards to confirm a person’s identity. For example, IDnow’s video identification service combines access to the national identity information of 193 countries with artificial intelligence and machine-learning systems with specially trained staff to enable rapid, effective identification to be completed on almost any device and integrated with your business processes. The Jersey Financial Services Commission recently published a video blog promoting the use of both e-signatures and e-ID. This sort of proactive, helpful approach from the regulator is fantastic.

This list is by no means exhaustive. It is intended to illustrate how technology can help virtually all organisations now. I know it is daunting to be investing for the future at the moment, particularly when there are so many technologies and service providers. So find people you trust, ask for free demonstrations and trials, run pilot projects and then scale what works. But don’t wait for the old ‘normal’ to return – you could be waiting forever.

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