This is the second of a five-part blog series focusing on a proposed path for asset finance businesses during and after the coronavirus pandemic. Updates to the series will be added over the next several months, as the world works to move past the financial impact of Covid-19.

  • Part 1: A Proposed Path Forward — A Three-Phase Proposal >> Read It
  • Part 2: What We’ve Learned & Done So Far — Emerging from Phase I
  • Part 3: Checkmark or Full V Recovery? — Imperatives for Phase 2 >> Read It
  • Part 4: Leading in the Next Normal — Innovation Fuels Phase 3
  • Part 5: Keys to Recovery — Solid Strategies in Uncertain Times

What We’ve Learned So Far

Emerging from Phase I

The coronavirus pandemic and various stay-at-home orders sparked some interesting behaviors in the first half of 2020. Americans, for example, increased their alcohol consumption 27%. They sparked a 71% year-over-year increase in toilet paper sales and drove a 67% increase in applications to purchase firearms. The crisis also appears to be leading to 300,000-500,000 fewer births in the U.S. for the coming year.

From an enterprise perspective, the pandemic generated lots of bad news in terms of layoffs, furloughs, lost revenue and supply chain disruptions. One positive bit of news, though, is the effect of Covid-19 on digital transformation. While organizations that originated in the past 10 years or so have built their infrastructures in the cloud, more established organizations had been moving far more deliberately down the digital path. When the pandemic hit, almost overnight, these organizations were forced to take a giant digital step and enable remote work. Many companies had established some instances of remote work over the years, but most didn’t have the digital infrastructures in place to ensure normal levels of business continuity or to protect all of the new endpoints (people at home) from sophisticated new cyberthreats. Amazingly, IT teams improvised, experimented and, in most cases, enabled remote work and virtual customer connections within a short time.

The move to remote work was primarily a health and safety issue, yet many organizations — even those previously disinclined to allow work from home — have discovered some compelling benefits. On average, workers are at least as productive at home as they are in an office, even under the somewhat depressing conditions of stay-at-home orders and social distancing. Many companies are experiencing measurable productivity gains, as the time employees had spent commuting, picking up kids, dropping off dry cleaning and going to lunch have turned into work hours.

This, as may be the case in your own organization, is leading employers to view remote work — or at least some hybrid home-office model — as something that lives on well past the coronavirus pandemic. To do this, enterprises will increasingly rely on cloud-based platforms to ensure workers have ready access to the tools, information and connectivity they need to do their jobs well — and effectively serve customers.

While many of the headlines and economic impacts feel the same, this pandemic-induced crisis is different in some important ways. One key difference is government response. During the 2008-09 crisis, governments, for the most part, waited to provide stimulus packages and, even then, were a bit reserved in their actions. For example, for the 2008-09 crisis the German government’s stimulus package equaled 3.5% of the country’s annual GDP; for the 2019-20 pandemic, that number has reached 33% of GDP. In the U.S., stimulus packages totaled 4.9% of GDP in 2008-09 compared to 12.1% in 2020. The U.K. delivered stimulus in 2008-09 that equaled 1.5% of GDP, versus 14.5% for the recent pandemic.

“The current recession – that is, economic decline – is already be behind us. But there is still much uncertainty around how long it might take to recover what we’ve lost. The best-case scenarios for a full recovery will still take several years, with some industries leading the charge. Accelerating that post-recession recovery is what’s critical now.“

-Dr. Elliot Eisenberg a.k.a. “The Bowtie Economist”

Phase I: Leveraging Cloud to Control Costs and Ensure Continuity

Remote worker enablement is a clear advantage of deploying cloud-based platforms. They allow you to provide workers with fast access to apps, collaboration tools and information, no matter where they choose to work. So, cloud has been essential during the pandemic for that reason alone.

But this first phase of recovery — from our perspective — also includes cost containment and business continuity. Cloud helps with both. From a cost perspective, cloud-based platforms, like IDScloud, allow you to mitigate wasted IT costs. The scalability and flexibility of SaaS platforms allows you to pay only for the modules and capacity you need. You can also scale up quickly as opportunities arise or scale down if you need to further reduce costs.

From a continuity perspective, SaaS platforms like IDScloud also allow you to continue serving clients, even if circumstances prevent your employees from working in a central office location. SaaS products offer 24 x 7 availability and, if they’re built on industry standards, they allow you to connect to partner and customer ecosystems and provide responsive service wherever it’s needed. Not all cloud deployments are equal. In order to fully realize the benefit of cloud, your SaaS provider should be leveraging a scalable and secure global infrastructure. IDS has chosen to partner with AWS to provide a globally scalable, secure platform which allows our customers to gain the full cost, business continuity, and application management benefit of a 100% true SaaS solution.

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Countless retailers, banks and even healthcare providers have been able to build trust, remain engaged with customers and protect their revenue streams by tapping into the power of SaaS platforms — and customers have rewarded them with spending and loyalty because of their ability to remain available during a crisis. The same principles of availability apply to asset finance organizations. IDScloud, for example, allows you to originate deals, manage portfolios and provide a wide range of services to customers even if your entire team is working from kitchen tables and coffee shops.

These elements of remote worker enablement, capital conservation and business continuity are the pillars of Phase I in our pandemic recovery model. They allow businesses to push through the crisis — and they provide the foundation for the innovation- and growth-oriented phases that follow.

SaaS Checklist: Criteria for Selecting the Right Platform

From a bottom line perspective, organizations move to SaaS for three reasons: cost savings, operational agility and value creation. When selecting a SaaS platform, make sure it delivers on all three of those criteria.

Cost Savings: There’s an immediate SaaS payback in terms of IT support. The right SaaS platform will require no new hardware and a minimal time investment from your IT team. With IDScloud deployments, our customers’ IT teams have pivoted from managing servers and on-prem software to supporting remote workers and supporting customer connectivity needs.

Operational Agility: The SaaS platform you choose should adapt quickly to changes in your business so you can run fast and lean. This includes scaling up or down to align with the number of employees you have — or the ability to instantly access new modules or capabilities. For example, IDS developed a new Covid-19 risk management tool (the IDScloud® Portfolio Risk Visualizer) in less than 30 days and provided users with fast and free access to an important capability.

Value Creation: This benefit is a little harder to identify upfront, because the impact of a SaaS platform from a value creation or business building perspective is different for each organization. One way to spot this important difference is to look for ecosystem connectivity — the ability to connect with other platforms that are required to pursue new kinds of business. IDS, for example, offers a Marketplace section on idsgrp.com that allows IDScloud users to explore integrations that allow them to reach new markets.

An Opportunity to Innovate and Grow Your Business

“It’s important to remember that all recessions come to an end. Right now, businesses can do what they’ve always done — be both realistic and opportunistic about market conditions as they are. For a faster recovery, the focus here is on improving both production and consumption. Financing companies have the opportunity to play a role in that by coming alongside good borrowers and, hopefully, deepening loyalties post-recession.” – Dr. Elliot Eisenberg a.k.a. “The Bowtie Economist”

Make no mistake: the pandemic has been extremely difficult in terms of its impact on both lives and livelihoods. But it does offer a unique opportunity for business leaders to reassess their growth strategies — especially if your organization has been thinking about deploying SaaS tools, but hasn’t made the move yet. This is an opportune time to assess your operations and set post-pandemic goals for employee engagement, capital conservation, revenue growth and portfolio expansion.

Of course, simply deploying cloud-based tools and digitizing key elements of your operations isn’t the end goal. Moving to SaaS platforms like IDScloud and accelerating your digital transformation are foundational steps. How you leverage those technologies to innovate and become a force in your chosen markets is critical. We’ll cover those Phase II topics — resilience, investment and growth strategies — in our next blog post.

 

Read Part 3: Flattening the Bottom of the “U”: Imperatives for Phase 2

Missed the first installment? Read Part 1

Leverage Technology to Transition to the Next Normal

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