If the disruption caused by COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that businesses need businesses. We are all interconnected and need each other to deliver value to customers and remain viable for our own longevity.

As the CEO of an IT integration firm, connections within a business IT environment are obvious – simply map out how systems need to talk to each other. What is not so clear are the connections outside a controlled environment.

For example, restaurant owners have effectively had their businesses shut down. That means they’re not placing orders for supplies or food products or produce. The effect is that distributors now have inventory sitting there with nowhere to go or they are not placing orders to manufacturers. Without inventory to move, the trucking and shipping industries go dark too. In response, visionary restaurant owners have begun doing food delivery, virtual cooking classes, publishing cookbooks and even grocery delivery based on consumers using their recipes to cook those groceries.

As another example, consider a vacation rental business – hotel, excursion or resort – that has had guest travel stunted by flight restrictions. The airline is losing revenues while the property owner may have difficulties paying the mortgage or property insurance. There is no need to order groceries for a chef that has no dining guests, or even to keep a full-time kitchen in operation. The hospitality and service staff is obviously affected, as are maintenance crews and groundskeepers; equipment usage is reduced, which affects the utility companies and their staff. At the same time, the leisure and travel business has responded by offering virtual tours, online education to plan future travel and online networking to build community.

So this disruption has certainly had a negative impact on cash flow and consumer buying priorities, but my point is not so much about consumers as it is about businesses. It is undeniable that businesses need businesses. We must work to preserve lives AND livelihoods by innovating and up-leveling what we do to keep cash flowing. In my mind, the longer COVID-19 is allowed to impact businesses, the further its ‘tentacles’ reach out into every facet of every industry. Everyone and everything will be impacted if businesses don’t reopen and think ahead to be as ready as possible for our new normal.

We may not yet fully be able to see or understand the far-reaching impact and consequences of this disruption but we do know it impacts everybody and all businesses at some point. It has shown how dependent businesses are on businesses for our overall economy. And I have two ideas to help jumpstart next-level business, which visionary business leaders are already adopting. Admittedly, I am biased in giving these recommendations but they just make sense to me.

1. Given that we are already in a digital business landscape, and are now even more dependent on remote workers, technology can be the bridge that connects businesses and ‘clips’ the reach of disruption. Basically, reboot business through using technology effectively and efficiently. Whether it’s helping workers be more productive, better able to collaborate, automate routine tasks, bolster training on using systems, upgrade your IT environment, now is the time to make the most of technology.

Note that this does require imagination in ‘twisting’ the resources you have to meet the needs of your customers right now who are focused on virtual means of connection, ordering and consuming what they want. Chances are, when you do, you’ll need some level of technology to bring it together. One interesting example I just learned about is about teaching clients via video chat how to cut their own hair. The service is no longer the experience of going into the salon but about getting expertise in exactly how to get a great self-haircut.

2. Use this ‘down’ time for conversations with potential technology partners about your roadmap for growth so when the restrictions lift, you are informed, ready to engage, and prepared to upgrade and streamline for future growth.

While you might think this a shameless plug for business (and XTIVIA does want to help businesses!), it’s actually a call to action to use this time well for future-planning. Investing in your people, processes, and systems is going to pay you back in time. The economy will recover and we all need to be ready for that. We business leaders need to help other businesses get on track, use resources effectively, and be prepared for the future, even if we can’t see what that means yet.

We would love to hear how your company is preparing for next-level business so please reach out!

This post was originally published here.

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