A Global Threat
“We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations — one that is killing people, spreading human suffering, and upending people’s lives,” states U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about the lately emerged Coronavirus - a.k.a. COVID - 19. The coronavirus that infected 1 million people worldwide so far is thought to be emerged from an animal market in Hubei province of China. Although, the virus have had various impacts so far including economic, social or political impacts, we will particularly talk about the impact of COVID-19 on business, especially on the client portals and the issues that come up with rising importance of them. We will finish our article with a quick review. Now that you know the issues that we will handle, let's go through them.
What is COVID - 19 ?
The virus belongs to the family of Coronaviruses that include the SARS-CoV that appeared in 2002 in Asia and MERS-CoV outbreak that caused most cases around Middle East since 2012. The lately emerged Coronavirus - COVID - 19 is on the other hand declared as a pandemic as of 11 March by World Health Organization. The most significant difference of the newly emerged Coronavirus is that it spreads so quickly with a long incubation period. The fact that people show no symptoms of it during the incubation period makes it harder to detect. Therefore, it even spreads more quickly.
Although, the latest figures show that around 50,000 people have died so far among 1,000,000 infected, the death rate of the virus is thought to be around 3-4%. However, the biggest problem is that the virus is fatal for the elder age groups. Daily infographic of Istituto Superiore di Sanità shows that the death rate is 21.3% for people between 70-79, it is 30.3% for those between ages 80-89 and 27.9% for people older than 90. Especially people with pre-existing health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.
What are the Symptoms of COVID - 19?
According to WHO, "The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell."
How can you prevent yourself?
There is no vaccine yet to help the fight with the Coronavirus. That's why you should take more precautions to not to catch the virus for yourself and people around you. The measures that you can take are as follows:
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds. You should use soap or alcohol-based handrub.
- Do not get into close contact with people. Keep at least 2 meters of distance.
- If you feel like coughing or sneezing, cover your nose and mouth with either a disposable tissue or your elbow.
- Stay at home! Unless you urgently need something, self-isolate yourself and do not get into contact with others.
Self- isolation is the most important precaution you could take for flattening the curve for the spread of the virus. If you do not care for yourself, care for others that are around you, your loved ones and the elder people. Isolate yourself and be a part of the fight against the coronavirus.
As I said earlier, there is no vaccine yet for the Coronavirus. There are some suggestions from different countries about the medication. However, they are not medically proven yet. The best thing that you can do right now is that if you feel unwell, keep warm, rest and drink plenty of liquids. If more serious symptoms start to show up, then go to the nearest health care provider without getting into contact with other people.
COVID-19 Impact on the Business
Well, now that we talked in detail about what COVID-19 is, we may move on to the impact on the business. This is an issue that might be investigated variously such as in terms of different industries. However, we will investigate the major impacts on each department of companies. Let's get on with it.
Marketing activities of the companies will change especially during the period of lockdowns. The digital platforms will gain more importance since the commerce will converge to online markets. The shift in the consumer behaviors should be identified rapidly and measurements should be taken accordingly. The policies regarding customers should be reviewed to determine whether a change should be made or not. In addition, the prioritization of the customers should also be evaluated again. CRM activities should be also converted to online platforms.
The forecasts especially for the second quarter of the year should be reviewed. Different scenarios should be formed including the worst case and the best case. The profit should be increased during the second quarter. Therefore, the team should come up with new activities. For instance, since there would not be needed to keep more inventories for certain products during the second quarter, inventory holding costs might be decreased.
Home-office system should be implemented effectively. Therefore, HR should be certain that the communication within and between teams are proceeding in a powerful manner. In addition, they should think upon measurements to take in the best and worst-case scenarios of the finance department. A new hiring process might be thought upon for the graduates of 2020.
The production plan for the next quarter should be reviewed and changed radically to meet the new customer demands. New measurements should be taken to decrease the costs regarding the fleet or inventory. Based on the industry the company is operating, the demand for certain products might change rapidly. For instance, a brand that is selling toilet papers should change its routing and production plan completely to meet the enormous demand.
The production schedule should be changed as I explained before. However, the safety of workers should be also protected. New safety measures might be taken and included to the protocols. The shutdowns should be avoided, if possible, to prevent a recession of economy which would yield even worse results. However, the safety of the workers always comes first when taking a decision.
The technology team should work on the sustainability of the system. The connection between the employees should be kept uninterrupted. That will be the responsibility of the tech team. In addition, there will be an increased risk of cyber-attacks. Hence, the team should also work upon acknowledging the teams about the safe use of their computers from home to increase the cyber security of the new work system.
The sales team should be able to adapt the abrupt changes in the customer demand. The demand should be satisfied in all channels to keep the customers satisfied during these hard times. Especially the companies that sell products such as toilet papers or canned goods should work harder to satisfy the increased demand.
The Rising Importance of Client Portals
Think about the example of a bank. After the spread of Coronavirus, going to the bank physically became impossible in some countries. In addition, the ATMs are not a safe choice for banking activities. Therefore, offering digital services through the internet became crucial for these financial institutions. Keeping the online service practical, interactive secure and available would increase the customer satisfaction exponentially during these hard times. That is how companies decrease their bounce rates and increase customer loyalty.
Hence, we can basically say that we are in a quarter where the digital activities of companies carry utmost importance. Client portals that are collections of information that is accessible by customers through digital getaways are also becoming really crucial for companies. The company offers its clients a secure point where they may login to access, view and download private information through these portals. However, with the increasing demand there are also some points to take into account that we will cover next.
Issues to Take into Account
Alright, now we know that client portals are more important compared to before. The digital services that are offered will be on high demand during this period time. How we can be proactive to this change and take necessary measurements is a nice question to reply. Well, when the issue is the client portals there are basically two issues to be careful about. The first thing is how to cope with the increased demand. In other words, to be able to offer a sustainable service even though the number of users might be doubled per hour. Another issue to take care is the increased cyberthreats. Now let's talk about them in detail.
1. Rising Demand and Increased Need for Sustainable Service
As we talked about before, now there will be more demand for digital services. Therefore, this will be a hard period for the client portals. In order to keep the sustainable service and increase the customer loyalty companies should be more cautious. Company should work upon web infrastructure to keep the client portal accessible to users whenever and wherever they want. The user friendliness of the portal could be evaluated again because now the customer profile might have changed. Therefore, the interface might be updated to become more interactive to users to help them carrying their operations.
2. Increased Cybersecurity threats
Another issue to take care is the increased cybersecurity threats. Now every employee is working from home, the cybersecurity threats became more significant. One of the most important features of a client portal is being secure since it contains private information about customers. Therefore, additional security measures should be taken. The company should train the workers about the cyber threats and how to avoid them. In addition, the IT team should work upon the further improvements.
Alright, we have talked about what COVID-19 is in terms of definition, symptoms, prevention from the disease and treatment. In addition, we have reviewed the impact of COVID-19 on business by analyzing several departments of companies. Lastly, we have investigated the impact especially on client portals and what issues should we take into account.
COVID-19 is the most serios threat that we faced since the World War 2. In these days, we should do everything we can to be a part of the fight. Let's stay at home and wait for the good days that will come so that we can enjoy them with our loved ones. Let's do everything that we can to prevent the virus from spreading and appreciate the ongoing struggle of the healthcare workers. We, as Prosoftly, to be able to be a part of this fight, offering our services for free to the health care organizations so that we can help. Let's do whatever we can to help humanity in these hard times.