Many businesses, especially software businesses focused on retail, service, and hospitality, have had to change tactics very quickly or face existential threats to their businesses. Companies focused on on-premise sales have worked to quickly ramp up the development of off-premise solutions.
Star Micronics has watched many partners change course quickly and face difficult transitions. Software companies will need to continue to be nimble to survive a business climate that is in constant flux.
Work-from-Home Opportunities and Challenges
The work-from-home transition is not a difficult one within the software development world. Most companies are already using developers in locations across the globe. Successful companies are putting tools, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts in place to collaborate virtually from wherever they are located. Additionally, modern product development practices, such as Agile methods, also cater well to virtual environments. Huddles are easy to coordinate over video calls and sprint boards can be virtually created and shared.
However, interfacing and testing hardware with software partners has been a challenge. Traditionally, everyone was located under one roof, sharing resources, and testing hardware in a shared lab space. Thankfully, Star has been able to accommodate partners’ software teams by distributing test hardware across many remote home offices. However, this could be particularly challenging in the case of very high-cost hardware.
Some Business Changes Likely to Become Permanent
Many of Star’s partners are allowing teams to work from home indefinitely. Due to this, how people work and collaborate will continue to change. Putting the right technology into place is crucial in order for businesses across the globe to continue growing a culture focused on collaboration and innovation without access to a home base.
Marketing and Sales Processes Must Evolve
Removing travel for tradeshows, and other in-person events, drastically alters how some businesses generate leads and close sales. Shifting marketing and sales from an in-person environment more fully to a digital one will be key to the future survival and success of businesses everywhere. Focus should be placed on generating leads digitally through inbound marketing efforts, attracting, engaging, and delighting prospects and customers at every level of the sales funnel. This can be done by providing the right content at the right time to the right person with tools that allow you to gate content and gather prospect information.
Leveraging these tools will help you build databases and segment audiences based on contextual information. You can also leverage social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, for one-to-one targeted B2B marketing efforts.
Keep in mind that businesses are struggling in the current business climate. Shifting your messaging to speak with sensitivity and empathy to your target audience is crucial. Retailers and restaurateurs are facing challenges they never have before. They’re seeking new, innovative ways to keep their business afloat, such as adopting new software tools and systems like online ordering or shop by appointment. A consistent sales push isn’t going to resonate with these customers. Messaging that is centralized around success stories, tips, and tools your customers can use to overcome business challenges (while simultaneously offering your products as the solution) will be a lot more useful than “buy now.”
Changes in Business Continuity Plans
It’s an understatement to say that 2020 has been a challenging year. The silver lining is that challenges present opportunities for companies to re-evaluate their business continuity plans. How we work, find new business, engage with customers, and collaborate with one another has had to completely change over a short period of time. Budgets have been upended due to travel freezes and tradeshow cancellations.
As businesses have been forced to evolve, many of them have transformed how they do business, finding new ways to continue beyond the pandemic. Successful companies will take a hard look at their budgets to identify where they have saved money this year and determine if many of those expenses are worth taking on again post-pandemic.
Video tools empowering companies to collaborate and communicate virtually are transforming company cultures. There is value in in-person interactions. However, when it comes to one-to-one communication with customers and prospects, video calls provide a personal connection; one that perhaps could replace some phone and email communication more effectively.
Tips for Setting 2021 Business Goals
2021 is the time to be bold. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a globally shared, transformative experience that will fundamentally change how people go about their lives. It is human nature to want some certainty about the future, and eventually, we will return to some form of the “new normal” we keep hearing about, but it is impossible to know right now what that will look like. 2020 may be a year to be a bit conservative, but 2021 will sort the winners from the losers.
Some of the changes we are experiencing now will remain. Everyone has gotten used to the convenience of ordering meals and groceries online. The eCommerce wave has suddenly advanced a decade in less than a year’s time. This is crucial and must be considered in any software company’s future plans. Thanks to the innovation of Star’s software partners in such a short period of time, we are confident that the future is bright.