As we enter into our fifth month working from home during the Coronavirus Pandemic, we felt it was a good time to discuss the impact the virus has already had on some businesses and what lasting impacts it will likely have on businesses and organizations in the future – especially when it comes to improving the digital experiences they offer their customers. We sat down with DataMotion CEO, Bob Janacek to hear his thoughts on the topic. Our questions are in bold.
First things first, I hope you and your family have been staying safe and healthy during this time. Like many other organizations throughout the country, DataMotion has been working from home the past several months. Can you elaborate on how the Coronavirus impacted the way the company works and communicates with one another?
Bob Janacek: Fortunately, DataMotion has always been a cloud-first company, both in our product offering and also in the way that we run our business. Our customers utilize our cloud-based APIs and software as a service from anywhere, so that hasn’t changed. And as a company, our employees use cloud-based services to get their work done. We’re heavily invested in Microsoft’s cloud stack, including Office 365, Teams and Dynamics 365. Those work just as well for employees working from home as they do from the office.
It sounds like there was a relatively seamless switch for the company to remote communications. I can imagine that some companies, such as those that frequently have in-person interactions with customers and clients, had some trouble adjusting the way they communicate internally and externally. What kinds of challenges have these companies had to navigate?
Bob Janacek: States have implemented various restrictions to increase social distancing and help combat the spread of the Coronavirus. Among our customers, especially for those in financial services, insurance and healthcare, the most disruptive event is the reduction or elimination of face to face visits. So, business that used to get done in person, such as opening up an account or CD in a bank branch, or face to face interaction with an insurance agent, is difficult if not impossible. This makes it harder for customers to do business with these organizations, damaging their brand and reputation, and affecting their bottom line.
Can you give an example of a customer that DataMotion helped modernize and secure the way they do business in response to the Coronavirus?
Bob Janacek: We’ve helped a wide variety of enterprises during the pandemic, ranging from financial services firms in the wealth management, consumer loan and retail banking sectors to healthcare companies providing services for clinical trials, pharmaceutical benefits and care coordination. In each case, they turned to DataMotion to make it easier to do remote business with their customers. The most common use case is API integration of our DataMotion PaaS to add secure message and document exchange after the login of their customer portal or mobile app, and inside the CRM and contact center solutions their employees use to service their customers.
So, based off of this customer story and other stories that you can think of, what tips or best practices can you give for other companies who are still trying to find a way to do business in this challenging environment?
Bob Janacek: Living through a pandemic is understandably causing people to experience a great deal of stress, hardship and uncertainty. Organizations that are easy to do business with, especially in these challenging times, reduce customer stress, build their loyalty and position themselves to grow. There’s been a lot of talk about the things businesses need to do to adapt in the current and post-pandemic world. Having a high competency in doing business remotely is often at the top of this list. Many leading organizations are taking this opportunity to up their customer experience by offering simple, remote, digital ways for their customers to do business with them.
So far, we’ve talked mostly about how companies have reacted, or are currently reacting, to the shift to work from home that the Coronavirus has caused. Let’s look a little bit into the future now – what permanent changes do you foresee the coronavirus having on the way organizations work and communicate in the long term?
Bob Janacek: The need to remotely support and do business with customers is not going away. Younger generations of consumers expect a mobile-first relationship with their suppliers. We’ve seen the pandemic force companies out of their comfort zone and reimage their business processes for a digital future. This will serve them well in today’s environment and for years to come.
Is there anything organizations can do now to start preparing for these changes?
Bob Janacek: Organizations need to look at their existing workflows and processes and determine which ones can be modernized or at least be offered as a digital alternative. Legacy processes including courier, postal mail and fax are slow and expensive, and can typically be replaced or supplemented by digital equivalents. This is especially effective for organizations that already have a customer-facing app or portal. In this case, offering a richer digital experience accelerates business process, reduces costs, and increases customer retention and revenue recognition.
So, you talked a little bit about a push for greater digital experiences. In recent months, Telehealth visits have become the new norm – do you think this is something that will stick after the coronavirus has subsided?
Bob Janacek: Absolutely. Between driving, parking and waiting rooms, we’ve all spent hours to receive ten minutes of time with a doctor. Telemedicine brings convenience to routine care. It also makes it easier for care encounters to occur, allowing patients to receive care and be monitored more frequently, resulting in better outcomes.
With these visits happening virtually, it’s likely that there’s an increase in doctors and nurses needing to send medical records or other information to patients through some sort of online channel. Are there any issues to look out for in this situation?
Bob Janacek: Telehealth visits often generate clinical information that must be shared with the patient and the patient’s primary care provider. Since this data is covered under privacy regulations such as HIPAA, care must be taken to exchange this information in a secure manner. Physicians typically use an EMR system and prefer to receive this information electronically using Direct Secure Messaging. This is a secure message exchange protocol built into EMR systems that’s designed to replace fax, saving time and money by importing clinical data in digital form. Patients will typically receive their results in a patient portal or through a HIPAA-compliant secure email system.
Do you have any other thoughts on any of the topics we discussed that you would like to share?
Bob Janacek: Yes, absolutely. We’re seeing a paradigm shift in consumer expectations, driven partly by the pandemic and social distancing, but also by the digital-first, smartphone-first generations of Millennials and Gen-Z’ers. Organizations that evolve to meet and exceed the expectations of their customers will grow and thrive, while those that stick to traditional legacy methods will rapidly fall behind. We’ve seen this disruption happen to eCommerce firms, and there’s no reason to believe that it won’t happen to every firm that services consumers. The expectations of customers are high, as is the need to provide a superior customer experience. For many organizations, supplementing traditional business processes with modern digital equivalents isn’t just a nice to have, it’s absolutely necessary for their growth and survival. Those organizations that have mastered doing business in a remote, digital way, while providing a superior customer experience, are well positioned to grow and thrive today and in the future. It’s a small expense that generates big returns.
As we finish up the interview, I have two more, fun questions to ask. First, are there any new activities or hobbies that you’ve picked up to keep yourself busy during quarantine?
Bob Janacek: Funny you should ask. At the urging of my son, I’ve set up a three-hole disc golf course around my property. It’s good to get outside and have a little family competition, but I’m getting beaten regularly because my son is home and has a lot of time to practice. I’m home too, but my time is usually spent on the computer working remotely.
My final question, what’s the number one thing you are looking forward to doing once all quarantine restrictions are lifted?
Bob Janacek: I’m looking forward to freedom. The ability to go anywhere and visit anyone without restrictions. That would be amazing. It’s the simple things, sometime, that mean the most.