Looking back on 2020 and the impact that COVID-19 has had on our global community, it might seem that forgetting last year would be a good idea! But that isn’t the case. iBase-t, like all businesses, has learned the importance of agile operations. We have adapted in many ways based on the global pandemic, which I would propose has been a good thing for our business. The lessons learned in 2020 have not only made our company more resilient but have allowed us to redesign our business processes and incorporate these improvements into our software solutions.
As the world begins to recover in 2021, I am excited to build on the momentum we achieved during a challenging year. I thought I would share a few with you now, with the hope that we can all learn together and emerge stronger as a result. Together, the iBase-t family of customers, partners, and employees has embraced the changes we implemented and are now all working smarter to deliver even better results.
Increasing Productivity While Operating Remotely
One of the lessons learned in 2020 was how remote work can drive an increase in productivity – at least to an extent. Since COVID-19 forced office closures and introduced in-person visit restrictions, we all became quite proficient with Microsoft Teams, instant messaging, and how to accommodate flexible schedules as a decentralized workforce while supporting our customers.
This has extended beyond proficiency with video conferencing. It meant we had to develop tools and techniques to better understand how our customer’s businesses had changed. Only then can we reasonably help in blueprinting new solutions that could be deployed and supported remotely. We modified our solutions, accordingly, knowing that remote working is likely here to stay – at least in one form or another.
Another COVID-driven response has been the development and launch of iBase-t’s eLearning University (read the announcement). With in-person training severely curtailed, remote learning became a necessity. By investing in a learning platform, iBase-t now can offer our customers and partners a far more efficient way to learn how to use our product. This starts with attendees getting to choose when they want to take a course. I would strongly encourage you to consider how to simplify the learning process for your products, or how to simplify the training of new procedures for your employees – it will be well worth the effort.
This new platform has allowed us to improve how we provide role-based training. Students now have access to higher quality training – and can do so in less time. Finding the right training information that is more related to how you work makes the learning process far less daunting!
Driving Cost out of Your Business
While iBase-t has been moving to Cloud-based offerings and deployment for some time, COVID-19 forced us to accelerate that shift. And, interestingly, it has been received by our customer with open arms. When we launched the Solumina iSeries late last year (read the announcement), our customers, partners, and professional services team all benefited by having a pre-configured solution that is more easily designed, implemented, and maintained.
With the shift to remote support, iBase-t has restructured its support organization and processes to make sure our customers consistently receive support promptly, from the best available resource – regardless of their physical location.
Is there any part of your business you can shift IT or systems deployment to the cloud? Not only are attractive programs now available, but it is also nice to not have to worry about current and future hardware support and replacement costs and instead, having a monthly predictable cost.
Maintaining Open Communication with our Customers
Another lesson learned in 2020 was that virtual events can be an effective way to communicate with your customers. The feedback received from those who attended our customer event, Excelerate Innovation 2020, was very positive. For us, we had made so much progress with our iSeries offerings, we just had to find a way to keep our customers informed on the progress that had been achieved.
Of course, once we determine it is safe to host an in-person event, we’ll be sure to plan accordingly. I don’t think anyone believes virtual is a completely perfect replacement for in-person events, but maybe in the future, we might try a hybrid model. There is a compelling case to make it easier for your customers to hear more firsthand about all the progress and announcements you want to share.
In the future, life will get back to a more “normal” state, post COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean iBase-t has plans to go back to “business as usual.” Nor should you.
Our commitment to customers, partners, and employees is that we will continue to build upon what we have learned. Innovation is something we take to heart, so we will continue to look for new ways to enhance our products. This includes attracting an ever-evolving workforce while leading the industry forward to best simplify how complex manufacturing processes are performed so we can all do our jobs better. I encourage you to do the same!