What decisions are you currently making and how will it affect the speed with which your customers will recover after the end of the pandemic crisis, was the topic of an online panel discussion “How to help customers recover from a pandemic?”, Which, among other experts for “Dynamics 365” from Central and Eastern Europe – including Petar Miljković, CEO of GoPro – and Mirad Maglić, Regional Director for Business Applications at Microsoft for 24 Central and Eastern European countries. Maglić spoke about the advantages of the online market, digitalization of companies’ readiness for online business and other topics…
Many companies seem to have seen the benefits of the online market during the corona virus pandemic. What data does Microsoft have about this phenomenon? Is it true?
Even before 2020, the world was rapidly moving towards the digitalization of business in all industries. At the moment, advanced cloud technologies provide companies with an incredible opportunity to respond to the crisis fairly quickly and continue their business operations that would simply stop without this technology. Some say the development projected for the next 20 years is now taking place in a few months. Many organizations took the opportunity to improve their knowledge, so they came out stronger – they turned more to digital business, relied on data, and became faster.
How would things develop when it comes to digitalization if there was no pandemic?
I think the only difference would be in the speed of digitization. Digitization began in the 1980s, when computers entered our homes, and has been slowly evolving since then. Maybe the digitalization of education would come a little later, but distance learning existed even before 2020. However, when it comes to companies, there was already a need to move to digital business, and most companies were already in the process of digitalization.
Are companies ready to move to online business… What is your experience?
We have been living our lives online for over two decades. At the same time, companies have gradually realized the importance of embracing online services and have adapted to the growing importance of this type of business. In some cases, the transition to online business happened much earlier, as in the case of e-commerce or marketing innovations. As technology matured and became more dominant around the world, companies were increasingly moving closer to cloud solutions – much as expected, as successful companies are constantly looking for the new competitive advantages that new technologies bring. This is not surprising, given the technological advances of the past – we have come a long way since the discovery of fire and point but, in essence, human beings have always sought better ways to work and live aided by the technological advances of their time. primarily in digital technology and online services.
I think that the transition to online business is inevitable. Online services are mature enough, they are more secure than traditional IT infrastructure, they are cheaper, they have enough capacity for your needs, and that is where innovations are happening at the moment. Many new and upcoming technologies would not be possible without online technology and would not be achievable without the scale and power that a cloud-based infrastructure offers. The best example of this would be how artificial intelligence becomes, almost imperceptibly, an integral part of our lives, helping us make better decisions based on the information we have, offering real-time recommendations and automating routine tasks — although it has long been talked about. artificial intelligence and its power, its widespread use and universal presence were not possible for only a few years, until the emergence of powerful online process centers.
Earlier questions such as “should I go in the direction of cloud technology” and “is storing data online” replaced by the following questions: “can I afford not to store it there” and “how can online services improve my business. ” I also believe that every company should ask itself the same questions.
Research shows that over 50% of companies have already devised strategies for users after a pandemic. What solutions do they offer their customers at the moment, and what do they plan to offer in the future? How do you describe the market during the pandemic and was there a need for new solutions? What solutions will be sought when the crisis is over and companies can return to normal business?
The new situation has affected the way we live and work in every industry and in every country on the planet. It will also affect how we will want and be able to live and work in the future. We were forced to quickly learn many lessons regarding resilience in business and private life, to continue to work and develop in the current conditions, or to simply continue to live as best we know and can. As far as technology is concerned, remote business solutions, aided by mixed reality technologies, will continue to gain in importance in our daily lives. For example, this month, we announced Microsoft Mesh, which enables the presence and shared experiences of collaboration using mixed reality applications. Imagine being able to attend virtual meetings and collaborate beyond the limits imposed by your screen, to work with your colleagues, users and partners in 3D space. It will bring a revolution in all fields, from design to distance medicine and education.
Another area to look out for is customer engagement, or how we manage the interactions between us and our customers or, simply put, how well we know our customers. Highly engaged customers buy more, and, equally important in the digital world, act as promoters and transmitters of the message sent by your company. Such an approach is based on brand loyalty, but it is much more than that, as your customers take an active marketing role on your behalf. The success of customer relationship management depends more on the acceptance of a culture in which the customer is the most important link than on the fact that all the tools are available to us. Unfortunately, a large number of organizations do not have the basic capacity in this field, and there are those who have acquired the necessary tools, but have not implemented the necessary changes in their business or company culture, resulting in failed projects and missed opportunities. Solutions related to customer engagement such as Customer Relationship Management or Customer Data Platform enable the construction of technological capacities in this field, but they should be accompanied by efficient processes and disciplines in their application.
How is the team reorganized to become competitive and successfully overcome potential requirements?
In my 25-year career, the information technology industry, like the rest of the world, has experienced change at the fastest rate since the inception of the human race. I consider it a real blessing, both privately and professionally. Based on everything that is currently available to us, we can conclude that we will continue to move very fast. Many of us do jobs that didn’t exist a generation ago, or over a few decades ago. Our children will do jobs we can’t even imagine today.
This means that professional readiness for growth is necessary for professional and personal success. Mental readiness for growth means that we need to accept that our skills, knowledge and intelligence are not static, and that we can grow and improve them throughout life. I believe that this is the most important skill we need at the moment, and it will be even more important in the future. At Microsoft, it’s one of the most important personal traits.
To respond to requests, we also rely on a network of partners, as partners are those who are in direct and constant contact with markets and customers. Microsoft is a pioneer in the partnership approach in our industry, and our partner network, not only when it comes to business applications, but also other fundamentals of our business, is constantly expanding.
Do you expect companies to start looking for innovative solutions after a pandemic?
Given the slow economic growth projected over the next few years, we should first focus on creating resilient business models that are able to adapt quickly and change the outlook of industries in the future. We expect the rapid adoption of cloud solutions to continue. I dare say that companies that do not consider investing in modern cloud IT infrastructure important enough and continue to rely solely on local IT infrastructure located “inside the house”, live on “borrowed time” when it comes to their financial perspective, but also technical sustainability. I believe that now is the right time to do something, there is no need to wait for the end of the pandemic, because the end may come only after you disappear from the business scene.
What do you think is the most important value that your company offers in cooperation with clients and customers?
Microsoft has a truly unique position in the technology sector and is one of a select number of manufacturers that can track users at every point of their digital transformation. We have leading products for IT infrastructure, databases, productivity, security, integration, business applications, artificial intelligence, mixed reality, and so on all the way to the Surface product group for personal computers, tablets and mobile phones. While we strongly believe that online services are the right path for every user, we also maintain more traditional, local product lines, to give our customers the opportunity to choose their own pace of adaptation to online services. There are very few companies that can do the same, and we have been successful in that for almost half a century.
In the first place, for our customers, this means the security and reliability of Microsoft as a service provider. Finally, our product lines are successfully integrated with each other, and while each line is the most modern in its field as such, when we use them together, we have the most productive, safest, most efficient and economical work environment.