Remember all the way back in early 2020, when you started rolling out your carefully crafted business plans for the rest of the year? Yeah, neither do I. That seems closer to six years ago than six months.
It seems almost quaint when I now stare at my calendar—all color-coded with trade shows, business travel to our corporate HQ in Nashville, and a variety of industry events in hotbeds of mass gatherings like Las Vegas. But instead of networking with my peers over cocktails, I’ve now mastered making my own Manhattans, all while fielding microwave questions from my kids, refilling the water feeders for my chickens, and scrambling to hit the mute button whenever my Corgi puppy tries to “join” conference calls.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying we’re all facing situations we never really anticipated. The word “unprecedented” gets tossed around pretty loosely, but it really does apply to the business impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’ve witnessed the direct effects on many of my company’s customers firsthand. Fortunately, as fuel retailers, C-stores, and quick-service restaurants, these businesses were deemed essential right from the start. Unfortunately, as highly distributed businesses with multiple remote sites, they’re facing unique logistical challenges every day—and will continue to do so well after the pandemic (hopefully) disappears.
Your Success Is Tied to Your Network
Even as we increasingly digitize our businesses and leverage mounds of data to hone our plans, we still find ourselves ill-equipped to deal with every scenario and situation. That’s why my favorite “business” words for the pandemic era would have to be versatility, adaptability, and agility. Why? Because they describe the necessary mindset and operating characteristics to help you navigate an unpredictable (and unforgiving) marketplace.
The good news is that the right network platform can provide a secure, stable foundation which delivers the flexibility to take your business wherever it needs to go. Hopefully, the pandemic hasn’t already revealed your current network as a business inhibitor—something you need to overcome rather than something which allows you to innovate.
But if your current network platform just isn’t good enough, now is a great time to re-evaluate what you need for today and where you want to be tomorrow. You can start preparing for the future by focusing on four key steps for highly distributed businesses with multiple remote locations:
- Make sure your business is hyper-adaptive
- Reduce IT complexity
- Leverage the cloud for greater agility
- Prepare for the unexpected with a solid DR plan
Make Sure Your Business Is Hyper-Adaptive
“Hyper-adaptive” is all about being as agile as possible so you can accommodate consumer demands and massive disruptions—like a global pandemic. For instance, how quickly can you introduce a breakthrough technology or exploit a unique competitive advantage across your enterprise?
Streamlining your digital transformation is a great first step. But to accomplish that, you need a network which can scale easily to capitalize on new business opportunities. This type of modern network:
- Evolves in lock-step with the rest of your business
- Increases security without constraining innovation or sacrificing performance
- Empowers you to roll out a wide range of customer-engaging apps and services
Reduce IT Complexity
One of the most effective ways to make your business more adaptable is to continually simplify your operations. Have you ever looked at your network and thought, “Wow, this couldn’t be any easier?” Probably not. That’s why simplifying your network can have an outsized impact on the rest of your business.
After all, your network must do much more than it ever has before, especially with budgets tightening up and more operations (and workers) going remote. Here are some good ways you can simplify your IT operations:
- Standardize on preconfigured, tightly integrated solutions from a single vendor
- Implement a low-maintenance, single-platform solution which centralizes management across all your locations
- Utilize managed network services to simplify connectivity, security, real-time monitoring, and compliance
Leverage the Cloud for Greater Agility
Highly distributed enterprises have benefitted immensely from the cloud by extending data center-class services out to their remote locations. Pairing an agile network platform with cloud services can deliver even greater business advantages, such as delivering an increasingly digital experience to attract more customers.
As more workloads and workers shift to the remote model, the cloud has become a force-multiplier. In particular, it allows a low-touch approach while ensuring reliable configuration, management, and security at remote sites—an extremely valuable tool when face-to-face personal interactions are limited.
Prepare for the Unexpected with a Solid DR Plan
One clear lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic is that you simply can’t prepare for every situation imaginable. However, you can implement the tools, processes, and mechanisms which will help your business survive a crisis or disaster.
A secure, reliable network can help you increase uptime and simplify disaster recovery (DR) in a variety of ways. For instance, remote sites can benefit from embedded 4G/LTE wireless backup which provides automatic failover if their primary Internet connection goes down. Moreover, the right network can allow you to perform centralized network monitoring and management—in real time—across remote sites and IoT devices from anywhere in the world.
You Can’t Always Predict, But You Can Prepare
The COVID-19 pandemic is an impactful reminder we aren’t very good at predicting the future. It’s also a big wake-up call we need to prepare for uncertainty. As the pace of market disruption continues to accelerate, an agile, simplified network platform can maximize your odds of business success despite whatever comes next.