Nationwide lockdowns are being extended in two-week increments around the world due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, officially named COVID19 by the World Health Organization. Many people are speculating that the total length of quarantine could end up being much longer, but government agencies are only increasing the time limit in smaller increments to avoid social unrest and panic. There is no way for us to be sure just how long the COVID19 pandemic will last, but one thing we do know for sure is that life goes on.
Due to COVID19, many people are beginning to feel panicked concerning their personal finances and their future, and with good reason. Though the United States is taking some expensive measures to support business continuity and cash flow in the US, there will inevitably be long term repercussions resulting from the $3 trillion addition to the national debt.
The US has a consumer-based economy, which means that there is very little domestic production of goods. SO where does all the money come from? The truth is that most of it is created through debt, which is essentially the United State’s number one export. When large corporations in the US “buy” physical goods that have intrinsic value, such as rare earth metals, oil, and raw materials, the reality of the situation is that those countries are buying US dollars with those goods. Countries typically do this to obtain USD for the purchase of oil from other petroleum exporting countries. But I digress..
Technology is Growing
There is, however, one sector in the US economy that is producing a set of “goods” that are indispensable for business and trade. These goods are really more like services, but they require a virtual product made of algorithms and codes without which they would not work. Online services help businesses achieve a number of goals and execute many of their core processes, and in this age where everything is hyper-focused on efficiency and organization, these virtual tools and platforms are absolutely indispensable.
Many of these tools and cloud products were created for the sole purpose of storing, analyzing, and utilizing the massive amounts of data that are generated each day through online activity. And being able to handle those processes while anticipating and adapting to changes in technology and consumer habits is the future of business, no matter who you are and what you do.
Businesses who operate in this sphere of influence, i.e., the technology sector, are well aware that their continued success relies upon the ability of businesses being able to continue to operate as profitably as possible. Businesses everywhere are looking for ways to cut spending and streamline operations for their remote workforce. And this is not necessarily an easy transition for many of them. Though the change is difficult for many companies, they are still looking at their bottom line for leaks.
How Does This Growth Help You?
Services that could be done manually, however less efficiently, might be some of the first things that less than tech-savvy business owners would look at as a way to save money. The technology sector’s brilliantly timed COVID19 responses, going back to our previous point, are to begin giving these services away for free, or at a heavily discounted price, for a limited time.
This move may cause a temporary setback for many of these tech outfits, but it is undoubtedly a genius move. Offering a free online service to businesses to help them lower their operating costs gives business owners a no-cost opportunity to improve their internal workings and adapt to using a remote workforce. And this will likely generate thousands of new customers for these online platforms in the future after these businesses have come to rely on their services.
If you own or run a SaaS company or online platform that assists businesses in their day to day operations, you need to consider jumping on this bandwagon to keep existing customers and gain new ones. Many of them will be so grateful for the help that they will become lifelong clients even when they are able to return to their normal operations.
Today, we want to give you some of our top suggestions for free online services during the COVID19 crisis, some of which we have been using in-house for years already.
- Audible and Kindle
This may not be absolutely essential to business, but we decided to include it anyway for a couple of different reasons. First of all, many of us are beginning to experience some degree of cabin fever, and finding a healthy outlet to focus on something constructive or entertaining is something we should all be taking advantage of during this period of social distancing.
Amazon is offering a two month free trial for all new users, which includes unlimited access to kindle and audiobooks.
If you are a business owner, this is also an opportunity for you and your remote workers to learn some new skills and strategies by diving into some business-related literature. There are many books out there about organization, motivation, and efficiency, and Amazon is giving everyone a chance to read them.
Freshworks is a SaaS company that provides a virtual workspace for managing employees and customers’ inquiries. They have a number of different products and services, and their integrated systems make the switch relatively quick and painless.
For the next six months, Freshworks is giving away unlimited use of Freschat and Freshcaller. These trial offers are limited to businesses employing fewer than 50 people, so if you own a small business, you can use these customer engagement tools for free until almost the end of this year. These tools can be used to manage a remote workforce and a rising number of customer and community questions via online channels.
- Ping Identity
The security software company is offering a free full access six-month trial version of their single sign-on and multifactor identification services for new customers. For existing customers who are currently using PingFederate are eligible to receive six free months of MFA to improve their security as more and more employees are transitioning to remote access.
These services can be used for many different applications, including SaaS and VPN authentication.
- Moz Academy
Moz Academy is a virtual learning resource that teaches businesses how to develop and grow their SEO strategies. They are currently offering a limited-time free access to all of their online learning tools, including local SEO, page optimization, and keyword research. You can get this full access free trial by using the promo code “wegotthis” at checkout.
HubSpot is a great CRM that already offers many of its features for free. They are not giving all of their paid services, such as email marketing and email templates, but they are offering some pretty valuable discounts and expanding their services for paid customers as a 90-day trial.
If you are not using any team collaboration tools or a project management platform to keep track of all your projects, you may want to consider this one. It can be used to store and manage client data, automate email lists, and serve as a central communication platform for your employees.
Everyone is aware that security is an increasing concern as more companies are offering their employees the option to work from home. Hackers are taking advantage of the fact that many people affected by COVID19 are now working remotely. These cybercriminals may try to gain access to business information via workers’ personal computers.
1Password is lifting its 30-day free trial limit and extending it to a full six months. There are many different password management platforms out there, but the way they work is by producing randomly generated, strong passwords and storing them in an encrypted database. That way, you only need to remember one password. 1Password also supports multi-factor authentication.
- Google Hangouts
Google has extended free access to its advanced Hangout Meets video conferencing capabilities for G Suite users worldwide until September 30 of this year. Video meetings and screen sharing are absolute musts for conducting business remotely, and you need a reliable, secure communication tool to do it. Also, if you need to hire more remote workers, you can even use this video conferencing tool for video interviewing.
Google Hangouts video conferencing tool is already often used by businesses that operate in multiple locations and countries, and it’s considered a go-to by many for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s Google.
Google offers G suite users massive amounts of virtual storage space for a relatively low cost, and most businesses are already using Google-powered applications and services to some capacity. This not only makes the transition fairly simple, but it’s an obvious choice if you are already using Google cloud services.
Areas to Focus
Many businesses impacted by COVID19 are experiencing economic hardships, and looking for ways to save money on operations is at the front of every business owner’s mind right now. Luckily for all of us, dozens of online resources are stepping up to the plate by offering free access to their software and services. Not only does this provide assistance to the businesses who can now take advantage of these services, but it is likely to help many of these companies expand and scale their services.
The need for a remote workforce, which has been growing over the last several years, is now mandatory, and it’s very likely that businesses will keep the changes once they have adopted them and restructured their operations around their remote employees.
If you are a business owner who is in this situation, then there are a few things that you will probably need and a few more that you just can’t do without. Companies offering online services and employing remote workers should consider security as one of the most important things to consider right now. Securely storing passwords and protecting your virtual infrastructure are two things that can not be overlooked. Don’t leave any “leaks” unattended, and make sure to educate your employees about phishing attacks. Files shared from unknown sources can contain viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other malicious software that can infect systems or give attackers access to your confidential data. They should know what to do when they receive suspicious emails and video messages.
After security, you need a way to centralize your communication. Since no one can run down the aisle of cubicles to get approval on a document or a sales offer, you need a virtual space where you can get it in front of everyone who needs to see it and track the progress. Email can serve this purpose, but they can get messy and are often overlooked. We highly recommend that you find a virtual workspace that streamlines communication and promotes remote learning.
This is one area that certainly isn’t coming into the picture for many businesses who are struggling to pay their bills, but as we have mentioned in other articles, businesses need to focus on the long term right now. Those that are simply treading water right now are much less likely to be around in the future.
SEO is an incredibly important need for any business, remote or otherwise. If you’re not managing your online presence, you don’t exist. This is especially true now that the vast majority of interaction with customers is happening virtually.
If you have been impacted by COVID 19 and not sure how you should be moving forward, then you should try reaching out to professionals and companies offering insight into the world of online business. Long before the World Health Organization declared there was a coronavirus pandemic and the business world found itself combating COVID19 and suddenly needing to move operations online, we have been operating remotely from the start. For the past seven years, we have used the best collaboration tools, communication platforms, and software to manage our remote workforce and client interactions. We leverage artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to drive marketing practices.
We have seen a considerable amount of growth during that time. If you need help adjusting during this period of social distancing and achieving business continuity, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We have a number of solutions that will keep your business optimized for the digital transformation.