Tips for thriving in the 'anywhere economy' – Business Leader

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Issue 37

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Story by
Serena Haththotuwa
August 10, 2022
Ronan Copeland
In this guest piece, Ronan Copeland, Group Vice President & General Manager EMEA at DocuSign explains what lessons businesses can learn from the pandemic and how they can excel in the resulting ‘anywhere economy’.
It is ironic that lockdown, the greatest curtailment of freedom in modern times, expedited the freedom to work and do business anywhere, anytime. Working from home, online shopping, and even remote socialising became the norm as the pandemic took hold of the world.
The rise of this so-called anywhere economy is driven by the goods and services configured to be universally available from anywhere via the Internet. While the traditional economy faltered during the pandemic, the anywhere economy surged, and companies started to realign how they operate to continue thriving in this new world of work.
Post-pandemic, the anywhere economy will become a business imperative. According to a February 2022 survey from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), 84% of workers who had to work from home because of the coronavirus pandemic said they planned to maintain a mix of working at home and from their workplace in the future. By 2025, an estimated 70% of the workforce will be working remotely at least five days a month.
The post-pandemic preference for an anywhere economy is also reflected in shopping and transacting. The 2022 Shopper Experience Index noted that consumers who were forced to shop online during 2020 and 2021 are likely to remain remote shoppers. The survey found that 64% of consumers have hybrid shopped in the past six months, with 64% doing research online before entering a store, a transition reflected in online payments, which dramatically increased during 2021.
Now that COVID-19 appears to no longer force mass lockdowns, what lessons can businesses learn from the way they’ve operated during the last two years? How can they now ensure they continue to thrive in the anywhere economy?
Businesses must be able to operate from anywhere, anytime. This can be from a rented office or a kitchen table, across multiple time zones. They must also be able to cement critical business decisions remotely. In these circumstances, it is best to store your business’s distributed data securely in the cloud to enable you to share and amend documents with stakeholders, in real-time. This will allow you to manage essential agreements in one place, but you must also be able to work with your team in real time to identify and illuminate technical mistakes and identify business risks and opportunities in the agreements you make and the action your business takes. Signing the T’s and dotting the I’s faster in businesses from anywhere in the world, will give you more time for your customers and prospects.
The last thing you need is more paperwork to get that vital signature of agreement. By deploying e-signatures, organisations can offer flexible work practices and replace old, manual, paper-based systems. At the same time this can boost productivity and free up teams to focus on growth. Legally recognised, e-signatures are an effective means of completing transactions, or signing business contracts, and support formal identity verification procedures, for example by verifying government issued IDs. This can be critical when hiring someone or taking on a new supplier.
There’s much to be said for making business decisions based on gut instinct, particularly when you’re starting out. But what do you do when you have customers all around the world, investors and stakeholders who you hardly see? Luckily, enterprises of any size will already have a lot of information on them based on their electronic interactions, often carried by agreement contracts. Trawling through this data would be a nightmare if you had to do it manually, and luckily, you don’t.
This is where data analytics software comes in, supported by Artifical Intelligence which will slice and dice the numbers to analyse agreements across your enterprise. This number crunching can also be used to identify potential profits hidden in agreements to drive sales opportunities, and ensure the legal smallprint is as it should be.
This data analysis can also be used to keep your business compliant. With the rules and regulations changing all the time across a range of countries, you’ll need automated data analytics to keep you on the straight and narrow and keep your businesses operating efficiently. This will give you more time on research and development, networking, and customer service.
Remote meetings became the norm during the pandemic, but complement these with face-to-face meetings where possible. And if the meetings must be online, shorten and personalise them. In the ‘anywhere economy’, there’s nothing like getting in touch with a stakeholder in person, just to see how they are getting along with your service. Focus on building business relationships in person, while keeping the transactional nature of your interactions online, where agreements and thought processes can be more transparent and formalised.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to running a successful business in a post-pandemic world. Organisations that will thrive in the modern hybrid world must evolve to make complementary digital technologies a permanent part of their overall success strategy. The appetite for the anywhere experiences will grow, enabled by booming digital infrastructures. The businesses and governments that adapt to the new realities of the ‘anywhere economy’ will be those that continue to thrive for years to come.
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