Businesses can plan for changes that might occur because of a natural disaster, an election that brings a change of government, and other environmental and technological developments. However, the global pandemic from the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), known as COVID-19, has forced every business to consider how to respond during a situation where the focus is on disrupting the spread of this disease.

The economic impact of this pandemic cannot yet be measured, but for businesses, the focus must be both on today and what comes after the worst has passed. A recent report by McKinsey focuses on the five “R’s” for the world of business beyond coronavirus: resolve, resilience, return, reimagination, and reform. These are essential factors for any thoughtful business to consider — what will business look like when past the worst of the curve.

Let’s look at the impact this virus is having on IT businesses, and how these businesses can respond.

Impact on the IT world
Government decrees and businesses’ desire to keep their employees safe mandated that working from home is the new reality. In this pandemic environment, companies must often balance the safety of their employees and clients, a reduction or loss of revenue, and an uncertain future.

This is where resolve comes into play. How will your IT business react and how is it preparing for present situations and what happens when the worst is past. 

Another short- and long-term impact is that 2020 may be a year without events and conferences. Even when the virus’ impact has slowed, will people readily get on an airplane or train to attend and exhibit at conferences? Will businesses see as much value at exhibiting at these conferences.

One option, of course, is to conduct these events online. Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will be held online in 2020. The new reality has forced Apple and its partners to think of new ways to create and present content for all the audiences it serves, such as press, developers, and consumers. Likewise, Microsoft’s Build developer conference is also going digital.

This is where resilience and reimagination are in play. These companies are finding new ways to reach audiences, to inspire, and to keep revenue coming in. What is yours doing to serve its clients while showing them that you deserve their trust and business in a new world?

Return can mean both “returning to work” and “return on investment.” Understandably during these times, businesses, lending institutions, and venture capital firms are asking hard questions about why they should invest in your company.

Consider how you are going to answer these questions during a time when your revenue may have dropped. A solid plan going forward and agility to respond are key IT objectives. Does your business offer automation solutions or staff engagement software? Are you launching a product or service that helps handle crises or can help produce necessary equipment? In the months following the worst of the pandemic, investors will be carefully considering their next moves.

The final R in the list is reform. Reform means finding opportunity after the worst has passed. This does not imply surge pricing on essential services or needlessly cutting staff. Instead, it is an opportunity for your IT business to find new ways to serve its clients better. 

Given that many of your new and potential clients may be reluctant to spend initially, how can you find ways to make your services more valuable to them? What can you do to contribute to their growth? Reform means finding ways to serve your clients while acknowledging the new realities for everyone.

Maybe your business needs to consider that your clients’ employees will be working remotely, meaning your software needs to work on different platforms and even on mobile devices? Maybe your method of delivering necessary anti-hacking updates has to change to reflect that not everyone is in the same office, using the same equipment, on the same network.

If a business was already effectively using outsourcing services as part of their operations, they might be more resilient in the face of this pandemic. Outsourcing IT may allow a business to maintain essential processes while focusing on providing their usual excellent service to their clients.

There is no question that this is not business as usual. But the chance to thoughtfully respond to a crisis and to use this time to determine where you want your business to be in a year, in five years, in 10 years is also an opportunity. Be safe.