One year on… What the COVID-19 has meant for our partner ecosystem
To say the past year has been a challenging one would be an understatement. COVID-19 has forced organisations to adapt to remote working and reconsider the way we connect and collaborate with colleagues and deliver services to our customers and end users. With sales dropping 30% in Q2 of 2020, the picture certainly seemed bleak, but looking back on the past years' challenges and innovations, what lessons can be learned, and what new opportunities are waiting for us as we consider the eventual return to the office?
Let's consider the year as a whole and find out…
Developing a new way of working as we entered lockdown for the first time
In March of 2020, as Exponential-e and our partners prepared for the move to remote working ourselves, our focus was on maintaining continuity as much as possible, which involved leveraging our collective experience to create a strong model for remote working, removing much of the uncertainty many organisations were feeling at the time. To this end, teams across Exponential-e and our partner organisations remained in close communication throughout, so all lessons learnt could be shared and used to establish best practice in this area. Through their efforts, the move to the new working model was completed quickly, successfully and with zero compromise service delivery or data security.
Once this foundation was in place, the strength of the partner ecosystem quickly proved to customers and end users that services and solutions would continue being delivered to the same high standards. Our focus then shifted to building on these successes, ensuring we would collectively be able to pivot and adapt to future COVID-scale shifts in the digital landscape, maintaining business continuity and operational resilience.
This way, many relationships between Exponential-e and our partners began to naturally evolve to encompass a greater range of services and solutions, both to meet customers' immediate needs, and ensure we can always be prepared for the unexpected in the future. Together, we played an active part in enabling many critical services to continue functioning, allowed disparate teams across numerous sectors (including challenging sector such as finance, healthcare, and retail) to stay connected, and delivered new innovations to support this, such as integrating voice services with Microsoft Teams, resulting in fully integrated, centralised platforms for communication and collaboration.
Thanks to this spirit of creativity, resilience, and innovation in the face of COVID-19, many organisations reporting a significant drop in uncertainty between October and November of 2020, from 75% to 67%. But three months into 2021, it's becoming clear that these were just the first steps…
Considering the now, and the continued drive for innovation
With the rollout of vaccinations picking up speed around the world, and a phased return to the office expected in the near future, it's essential that we do not lose sight of the road ahead. With hybrid working - the combination of both remote and office-based working on a flexible basis, utilising multi-use buildings and cutting-edge communication and collaboration tools - now a hot topic in light of the workforce's 'liquid footprint', we are already in the process of working with our partners to prepare for this, utilising our full portfolio of services (including SD-WAN, Unified Communications and Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams) in conjunction with our partners' broad capabilities to optimise flexibility in the way we work and establish a new standard of best practice in this area.
Looking to the future…
With a new way of working well-established and approaching the next stage in its evolution, we are seeing a shift from maintaining business continuity and resilience to future business growth and sustainability. Indeed, we are already seeing tangible evidence that these measures, combined with positive news around vaccine rollout, have helped drive a slow but steady recovery in terms of both sales and employment, which is expected to continue into 2021.
We're already taking the first steps of our next three-year strategy, and plan on bringing our entire partner ecosystem along for the journey, strengthening the cornerstones of our service portfolio, and broadening our teams' already deep expertise across a number of areas. It's been a challenging but extremely rewarding process so far, and we look forward to the next stage, helping our partners continue to grow with us.