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COLUMN: Preparing For A Permanently Changed Solution Sale

The Channel Company‘s Executive Chairman Robert Faletra says in a post-coronavirus world, there are two new and likely environments many businesses will find themselves in.

While COVID-19 has delivered an opportunity for strategic service providers adept at delivering and managing solutions that enhance work-from-home and remote capabilities, an extended virus-dominated world is real and ultimately something to be prepared for.

There are essentially two new and likely environments many businesses will find themselves in, and both offer opportunity for strategic service providers. These are being driven by the highly infectious rate of this virus, which seems far higher than traditional viruses we have dealt with. Some reports claim there are at least six strains of the coronavirus, which means it may become like the seasonal flu in that a new vaccine needs to be developed annually to fight this far more highly infectious enemy. I’m no medical expert, but if this proves true we are headed toward a different environment for how businesses operate, and there are two major avenues of opportunity to meet business needs.

One is a world in which we are forced to live and work differently because of the current or subsequent virus’ persistence. The other is a result of the consistent new precautions that have to be taken and the desire on the part of many businesses to permanently change their work cadence.

Some businesses will decide that a dispersed workforce makes sense on a permanent basis. Others have to get on the offensive to deal differently with their business model in order to survive.

In the latter case, restaurants are examples that have been particularly challenged and offer an opportunity for strategic service providers to deliver solutions. What can be automated or reimagined in the restaurant experience to increase comfort levels?

OpenTable has changed its reservation system as a third-party supplier, but there is a cost to the restaurant owner.

Can an enterprising strategic service provider offer a more integrated approach in which the dining party makes a reservation that prepopulates payment options, loads menus onto the attending party’s phone and essentially automates much of the touchpoints that today require more contact? Why not reserve a table, select your cuisine and wine, and pay for the evening via a phone-based solution? Some establishments have taken a few steps in this direction, but I’ve yet to see a full solution.

Strategic service providers might also offer a partnership with an HVAC supplier to install state-of-the-art HEPA air-purifying filtration systems that eliminate or drastically reduce the concern of germ transmission indoors, allowing for fewer touchpoints and better conditions. Having been in a few cigar bars with high-end HEPA filters that turn smoke-filled rooms into pleasant, breathable spaces, it seems a natural solution that melds high-tech and advanced HVAC solutions.

Might a restaurant with a totally integrated solution solving these two problems be more desirable and able to return to respectable profitability?

The dispersed workforce is something that is going to accelerate—virus or not. This experience has many businesses comparing real-estate costs to having more remote workers.

With 5G on the near-term horizon and the speeds it will allow across huge swaths of the country and the world, bandwidth concerns and the need to be tethered to a building are going to fade and change the way we think about commercial office real estate. The ability to run large enterprise applications in the remotest of places will become necessary and commonplace.

Security, desktop support, and the ability to seamlessly ship equipment and be able to set up a remote high-end office are problems that will need solving.

But the upshot is there is gold in these hills, and it’s worth thinking through how to mine it.

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