The Catalyst: How Innovation Prevails in Times of Crisis
By John Pelant
Thursday, 21st May 2020

There’s no rule book for pivoting a business during a global pandemic, but when it comes to innovation, necessity is the mother of invention.

Deep challenges in the economy, for business models and customers, can become drivers of innovation and when their back is against the wall, winning companies can turn a crisis into a catalyst for innovation by addressing issues in ways never thought of before.

Ensure connectivity

Ensure that your technology and people are in place, ready to take on new ways of working. For us, that meant making sure our employees had a safe place to work and the tools to service our customers.

To help travel counselors use their home phones to take calls, we extended a system built to meet the varying needs of contact center agents. We established gateways that allowed more than 1,600 employees access to their office desktop securely and supported a significant increase in concurrent VPN connectivity. In less than four weeks, we sent virtually everybody to work from home, from 132 office locations. Preparedness is key.

Cultivate a supportive culture

In the midst of a severe event, people are driven by finding solutions for their peers. Smart problem solving comes from caring for each other, and making sure that culture drives how we treat our customers. Knowing their co-workers were in remote or home locations and with fewer phone lines, our Global Service Desk launched a global chat option to answer our team members’ questions, which is now accounting for over 20% of the volume. Technology can bring people together, only on the foundation of a caring culture.

Use a crisis framework for long-term innovation

There’s no shortage of real business problems now. A crisis is an opportunity to make changes that reinvigorate employees, reinvent how we do things and learn what’s important, from a tech and business standpoint, beyond our current challenges. Pick up the best of what’s working and run with it. You might build something quickly and use the tech framework to build out a long-term solution.

In this pandemic, a common denominator is the efficiency and integrity of technology.

Stretching around the world, technology can be at the core of how companies, employees and customers all come together, both now and for the long term.

John Pelant, EVP & Chief Technology Officer, CWT

This article first appeared at the CWT blog

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