Transformation and InnovationThe Search and Information Industry has adapted to the Pandemic

Sometimes it takes a catastrophe to speed up long-overdue change. This is the impression we are left with when talking to CEOs and General Managers from all over Europe and Asia. This blog is a cumulation of the Siinda CEO panel discussions that took place during LOCALCOMM Virtual 2020. CEO’s from top companies talked about how their companies navigated the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Forced by COVID-19 lockdowns they quickly had to adapt their ways of doing business. Ways that provided challenges but also opportunities and that will probably stay with us in post-pandemic-times.

 

 

In the Virtual World, Communication is King

 

In the middle of March, the lockdown came out of the blue and took everybody by surprise. Within a few hours, companies had to get accustomed to home offices and how to serve customers from a distance. Those who were already working in the cloud had an advantage. Jon Martinsen, CEO of FCR Media Group, for example, noted that he had already profited from shifting to cloud-based working, some time ago, thus giving him an advantage.

 

Others embraced this change a an opportunity, although the shift was not that easy. In companies that were not prepared, employees had to take their PCs home and to quickly adjust to their new working environment at home. 

 

John Goddard, CDO of EDSA and at that time also CEO of HEROLD Business Data, remarked that strong teams mattered more than ever before in those confusing times. He pointed out, that clear communication, strong management-team and leadership as well as loyalty were key success-factors to quickly adapting to the new way of working.

 

Bernhard Lüders, CEO of Sutter Media GmbH, added that tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom strongly supported internal and external communication. However, he noted there is room for improvement regarding the use of other MS office tools to make distant working easier,.

 

While internal communication could be managed the interaction with customers was much more challenging. In many countries, business owners were used to discussing their marketing strategies during personal visits at their offices. Video-calls proved to be quite a change for them. It took some adjustment, but after a while, sales-persons and customers got used to these new communication channels. Geir Egedius, Product and Marketing Director of Opplysningen 1881 in Norway, said creativity was key as they created cool backgrounds for their video-calls with employees and customers to provide a more professional look.

 

For those customers who simply could not get used to virtual communication a solution was also found: Hannes Scheiflinger, sales-manager of HEROLD in Austria, recalled a cute little story of a sales-colleague who drove to a customer´s office, put a contract in his mail-box in front of the house and returned to the car. The customer took the contract, signed it, placed it on the mail-box and went back to the office. This way the sales-rep could obtain the contract without harming his or the customer´s health.

 

Except for a few workarounds, virtual communication proved to be a great alternative to doing business face to face – both internally and externally. In many cases, home office meant less distraction and more focus and saved time.  It did increase sales efficiency, even with the occasional dog or five-year-old that wanting to be in on the action.

 

 Watch the first CEO Panel here (€10 - Siinda Members contact for free pass code)

 


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