Jason Cort, Director of Product Planning and Marketing for Sharp Europe, offers his insights into how Sharp Europe is adapting its offering in light of the new normal and helping businesses better support agile working and blended office solutions.
The COVID-19 pandemic we are all still living and working through has thrown up a diverse range of problems for businesses of all sizes. We at Sharp have been helping customers come to terms with what is being called ‘the new normal’ and looking at how our solutions can help them better understand, and manage, their business output.
It is safe to say that our customers are facing the same three steps that all companies are: Survival, Recovery, and Growth.
Presently, many companies are still finding themselves in the survival phase. However, at some point, as we start to progress out of the COVID-19 situation, businesses will look to recover, and beyond that actually start to make plans to grow their business.
Going through this experience has created a host of lessons that businesses will use to create new guiding principles. We have found that this will often start with the need to be financially safe, and believe that companies will look to move away from a CapEx based business model, to an OpEx based model, especially when making investments for their organisations.
Keeping employees safe is high on the list of requirements, from the physical safety of staff being in the office, including social distancing, but also to the ongoing mental well-being of employees.
One of the positives that has come out of the COVID-19 experience is that companies have found they can let their employees work from home on a regular basis and that the organisation still functions, and that people are still productive.
Along with the safety of employees, businesses also need to consider the digital safety of their business, not only from a data protection standpoint, but also making sure that virtual meetings are carried out in secure environments, such as Microsoft Teams.
Using these guiding principles as a starting point, our customers can move forward through survival, recovery and growth stages of the new normal.
Sharp Strategy in the New Normal
A key question we as a business have had to ask ourselves is, ‘what does this all mean for our own strategy?’
In the pre-COVID environment, our strategy was very much built around the key tenants of data, remote monitoring and management, and technology-as-a-service and security. These were applied to create solutions that were effectively bundles of people, process technology, whether for print, collaboration, home working, or even IT solutions now that Dynabook is part of our portfolio.
Going forward, little has needed to change in our strategy. However, the trends that were driving that strategy have indeed accelerated, so in turn we have had to accelerate our own strategy.
We are being driven by the key customer value drivers, helping us build an array of innovative products and services. For example, remote monitoring and real-time management are even more relevant today than ever before, as it not only maximises the availability of products and the services, but is all about minimising the amount of site visits an engineer might have to make.
Collaboration across spaces has changed so much in recent months and is now a common way of working. So much so that it, along with home working solutions, has become a high-focus area for Sharp.
Collaboration is about bringing people together in a different way. It’s no longer 20 people in one large group session with a couple of people dialling in. Therefore, we need to provide the right agile tools to give that in-meeting experience. When we look at agility, we also need to look at security and making sure it is fit for purpose.
Helping people, especially those joining remotely, to stay focussed and energised is vital for a successful meeting. This requires a high-quality video and audio experience, allowing people the ability to actively participate. Then we need to look at keeping them energised by looking at the environment they are sitting in, and the air they are breathing.
The Windows collaboration display from Sharp, the world’s first Skype for Business certified interactive display, is ideally suited for this purpose. Alongside the latest video and audio capabilities, the IoT sensors can help monitor meeting room environments and actively feedback the data so that meetings can be run more efficiently. This is just one example of the solutions we have in place that meets the needs of the agile working business.
Ultimately, our solutions are evolving to meet the needs of the new normal, offering agile working and the right level of support and insight to help businesses survive, recover and grow.