How Technology Is Reshaping Businesses For The COVID-19 Era

All too often, many promising tech companies find themselves battling for survival only because their tech gets disjointed from the core business that they offer, which results in tech focused on delivery, rather than impact.

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By Helal Ismail

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The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a moment in time that has been both a significant setback for so many, sadly even tragic with the loss of so many lives, but it has also been an opportunity for businesses to be reshaped to better meet the needs of the consumer, and ultimately, the communities they serve. The role of technology to enable businesses to evolve quickly has been profound.

The need for change has been partly driven by the necessity to adapt to changing market conditions, as the world slowed down due to the imposed lockdown measures that were implemented in the fight against the virus to bring it under control. Additionally, the need for change was required to better meet the shift in consumer behaviours with evolving needs and wants, as lockdowns eased with people starting the process of returning to a new socially distanced normality.

The businesses emerging more strongly than others out of this pandemic induced crisis are the ones that have evolved faster to be more in tune with the consumer and community changes with priorities shifting somewhat. For these companies making big and bold decisions in their business models reflect a new era of agility, a time to be ever closer to the community, and ultimately, to reflect the reality that the world has changed in this protracted pandemic period.

The rewards are there for those that do by operating at a profit and even potentially increasing their market share as they recalibrate operations and thereby setting the tempo aligned to our new world. At CAFU, we did just this. Our founder and CEO Rashid Al Ghurair very quickly understood the shifting sands toward enduring change being caused by the continuing and unfolding virus-stricken times that we found ourselves experiencing.

As a technology-driven business, relentless in our focus to make life better for our consumers, Rashid Al Ghurair led the company to seize the realities before us by embracing change rather than fearing it. It was a time for CAFU to innovate more, not less, and central to these innovations was our technology to enable more.

By far, the most significant innovation was to revise our business model with the bold decision to remove our delivery charge for our contactless on-demand vehicle refuelling service. For our consumers, it meant our fuel was now the same price as the petrol station, but with all the added benefits of ease of use and convenience.

Our technology team, equipped with a range of engineers, reacted very quickly to overhaul our platforms at scale and pace to meet the needs of the business. One of the key reasons we were able to achieve this was down to the tech talent rotation program that we had previously put into place pre-COVID-19 at CAFU. Rather than having single domain focused engineers, our rotation program enabled us to move engineers between various domains such as web, mobile and more to support the business to deliver the required solutions.

Working hand in hand with our data scientists and engineers, we continued to optimize our digital performance to adjust to the evolving needs of the community of CAFU customers returning to the normality of the post lockdown period as they returned to the road in their vehicles.

To ensure we continued to adjust to the changing behaviours of our consumers, we invested a significant amount of energy into closely analyzing our raw data streams in real-time. We also infused this data into our data visualization libraries which added considerable value to our daily operational decision making. Being hands-on analyzing this data was one of the most important eye-opening exercises we conducted which enlightened our path towards building a COVID-19 era tech strategy that focused on what mattered most and what delivered impact faster.

All too often, many promising tech companies find themselves battling for survival only because their tech gets disjointed from the core business that they offer, which results in tech focused on delivery, rather than impact.

Technology is playing a pivotal role in reshaping business for the COVID-19 era by recalibrating the business offer to be more aligned to their consumers. Technology leaders have needed to position themselves to be front and center of the business to drive forward with smart agility the digital agenda to thrive.

The pandemic has dramatically impacted our lives, and will likely continue to do so for some time still to come. We have experienced a great deal of change, and we have learnt that those businesses making the right investments in their tech, data-driven analysis, empowering processes, and their people to drive them forward, are the businesses best designed to succeed in our new, post COVID-19 world.

Related: Three Guiding Principles For Businesses To Emerge Strongly In The Post COVID-19 World

Helal Ismail
Helal Ismail is Head of Technology at CAFU, a Dubai-born startup and technology-enabled car service designed entirely around the needs of the consumer, transforming the way a car is run and operated.

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