In early January, I was talking to a business chamber representative about his members’ internet skills.
“We just don’t think our members are ready for online conferencing, it’s too high tech for them,” he declared.
Fast forward two short months, throw in a world wide pandemic that has put much of the world into lockdown…. and suddenly those members have no choice.
In fact in my email box today, I received an invite to attend their next five rounds of webcasts for upcoming events.
It’s funny how need creates capability.
COVID-19 is moving at break-neck speed. So like it or not businesses worldwide have been forced into a new reality, where everything is now online.
This includes going to work, holding meetings, dealing with your customers, attending conferences, training and even socialising during tea breaks.
Even my city kids are now adapting to school on the air!
Some businesses have embraced this. Others have been dragged kicking and screaming into this new way of doing business. Either way there’s no escaping it.
We have a new norm and the rules no longer apply, as we turn up to work in our pyjamas, smoke in the office, bring our animals to work and fail to tidy our desks. If any of that’s a problem – just readjust your camera.
Most small business won’t have had a contingency plan for this new norm and let’s face it, many have resisted this trend for as long as possible.
But now it’s no longer optional. You need to take your business online or risk extinction!
For businesses that trade internationally, there’s a whole set of new problems.
What do you do when you can’t simply jump on a plane and head overseas to a trade show or new shop launch, visit a factory and do a handshake deal, or even get the benefit of eye to eye contact around the board table in a hard-hitting business negotiation?
Even meeting your translator is now a no-no, not unless you are prepared to yell your instructions from 4 metres away.
Economies worldwide have taken a hit. Operating your business inside your local bubble is no longer enough, you need to cast your net globally.
Why struggle trying to squeeze out a living in your home economy when there is another market that is cashed up and thirsty for your product or service?
That market is China – the biggest consumer market in the world with the largest number of internet users on the planet and a hunger for Western goods and services.
But China is not the only market. There are many more than can bolster your business and your bottom line.
Now is the time to use the forced social isolation brought on by COVID-19 to take your business global.
The tables have turned and this is what business now looks like:
· Website: Your website is now more than ever the Mothership of your business. A safe place that for many businesses used to be your bricks’n’mortar shop or office. And the only virus you can get here is a computer-generated one if you don’t keep your antivirus software up to date.
· Social Media: Your communication channel, replacing all physical human to human contact. It allows you to connect, engage and deal with all your customer communications. You can still get up close and personal with your customers – but only avatar to avatar.
· Artificial Intelligence (AI) For Translation: Computer-generated translation devices can now replace the need for humans. AI can be integrated into websites, phone tech, meeting tech, and other live mediums. You can even train it to speak your unique language, with all of its idiosyncrasies. If it sounds complicated or expensive, don’t worry it’s not.
· Online Meetings, Events, Conferencing and even Concerts: There are plenty of easy, reliable video conferencing platforms that bring meetings, conferences, events and even concerts into your home. And the technology is getting better and better. Who’s to say in the future we won’t be sitting in our bedrooms with a set of VR goggles and talking as if we’re all in the same room?
· Robot Staffed Warehouse: You have a duty to protect your staff from COVID-19 so warehouses can be staffed by robots that pick and pack for you. The ultimate tool in social distancing.
Technology has been preparing us for this moment for a while, so I am not sure why we are all so surprised?
The good news is that all the technology is already available and ready to use.
In fact, the Chinese are at the forefront of development and have been trialling, using and implementing these types of technologies for years, well ahead of many Western countries.
Chinese tech advances include:
1. Cashless society
2. Cashier free convenience stores
3. Contactless transactions and super-fast logistics
4. Online eCommerce ecosystems on one app
5. QR Code technology for payments & vouchers
Bingo Box, for example, uses popular mobile phone payment app WeChat, which customers scan to enter the store. When inside they select a range of goods, scan them and then leave the store. No need for a cashier. In-store items include mostly package foods and some fresh produce.
The company’s marketing pitch is that only 4 employees are needed to run 40 stores. Their function is mainly to restock the shops, but even stock-taking is teched up with employees running a scanner over the shelves to detect stock numbers.
They then receive a report listing required stock which they manually replace. It’s a very low maintenance business solution and alleviates the need for human to human interaction.
Didi Dache is a taxi app that allows patrons to book and pay for a cab and do little more than jump in at their point of pick up and out at their destination.
There is no time to waste. Online is where your business needs to be right now. If you don’t step up, your business is most likely going to die.
The big question is:
How can your business adopt these new technologies right now, in order to eliminate human to human interaction and keep your business not only trading but growing?
Well, in the following webcasts, eCourses, articles and booklets, we are going to explore exactly this, subject by subject. Topics will include:
1. Devising a global business brand strategy and business plan to roll out your business across the world.
2. Building a website (or virtual shop front) that is multilingual and works in multiple countries.
3. Using translation technology across your business in a cost-effective manner and without having to learn speak another language.
4. Developing intelligent marketing plans that can be adapted and rolled out across multiple countries in various languages with cultural consideration.
5. Staying up to date so your supply chain doesn’t break down.
Send us an email if you would like to be informed when these tools are available. Email firstname.lastname@example.org