Hong Kong has learned a lot in the 17 years since SARS
Hong Kong has been fortunate in keeping the number of COVID-19 cases down to much lower levels than many countries in Asia. It is still too soon to tell how the outbreak will develop. But, the lessons of the SARS epidemic, combined with prompt action by Hong Kong businesses to continue operating and allow employees to work remotely, have undoubtedly helped the city to reduce anxiety and protect people from a frightening but invisible threat.
However SARS was 17 years ago. Since then, advances in technology have made business continuity and workplace flexibility a far easier and effective proposition. In fact, new applications that analyse employee information, make it possible for companies to get ahead of the curve and take preventative action to protect their staff, the community and their business.
Ensuring business continuity
Take iRPA (Intelligent Robotic Process Automation), for example. It frees-up employees in good times. But it becomes invaluable when trouble strikes and labour is distributed to prevent infection.
Software robots can work 7/24, won’t get sick, and they can be instructed to work anytime from anywhere. However, the advantages don’t disappear when the pandemic passes.
iRPA enables enterprises to improve operations, by using staff for high-value tasks at lower costs. It can also enhance service quality, reduce cycle times for revenue-generating transactions, and increase compliance and analysis capabilities.
These are all benefits that will pay dividends in the long term, in addition to helping businesses deal with the current disaster.
The COFID-19 virus outbreak is the latest development keeping consumers out of physical stores. To protect revenue, and be well-positioned for the future, retailers should begin or accelerate their transition to online channels.
Many, including Hong Kong’s largest online shopping platform, the HKTVmall, are already doing so, SAP’s Commerce Cloud package. As well as speeding up time-to-value, it delivers a full-function omnichannel commerce platform with a great customer experience, performance stability, and real-time inventory and order management.
Listen to staff and take action
In ordinary times, only 38% of employees are satisfied with the technology and tools related to their jobs. That figure changes dramatically when people are under pressure, have been during the current COVID-19 outbreak.
It’s important for companies to answer basic questions, like “Are my employees safe and do they feel empowered?” In an uncertain environment, there’s no room for guesswork. Businesses need to get an accurate picture of how people really feel, and do it as quickly as possible.
Many of them are using SAP’s Qualtrics EmployeeXM™ as a way to understand their team’s risk of exposure to emergencies such as COVID-19, and gauge their perception of the measures taken to deal with matters.
Based on best practices, along with pre-defined questions and an evaluation dashboards, it helps organizations deliver exceptional technology experiences by ensuring that employees have access to the right solutions that support them anywhere.
Armed with that information, companies can align processes across all of their locations to safeguard security and ensure data compliance. The very short implementation time – from days to a few weeks – keeps companies on the safe side when the unexpected arises.
Locate, communicate and help
Things get more complicated when staff are working from distributed locations – across town, or even out of town.
SAP’s Concur Locate provides a powerful employee risk management and safety communication solution that allows companies to ensure that employees are safe, no matter where they are
The active monitoring service can track global events that might affect employees and help companies to take action when they need help. Concur also helps prevent problems by providing pre-travel advisories, incident analysis and reporting, and custom messages and alerts.
In an emergency, Concur Locate can be invaluable by pinpointing employees’ locations, help communicate with them using voice, email, SMS, or the SAP Concur mobile app and confirm that messages were received and read. If necessary, it can even send help, putting boots on the ground through SAP’s medical, security and travel assistance services partner, HX Global.
Never stop learning
In the past, training and education were some of the first things to stop when disruption struck. However, with the emergence of online tools, that’s no longer a fait accompli. Indeed, in many cases, online solutions can reach more people and offer far more convenience than traditional face-to-face training.
There are plenty of options on the market. SAP’s own Learning Hub is an online learning platform that offers the latest content from all SAP solutions. Along with 24×7 access, it provides personalized training plans, so staff can learn whatever they need, whenever and wherever they like. (Click here to learn more about the latest Learning Hub Free Trial)
Plan for safety and success
Today, it’s the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Tomorrow it could be protests or a natural disaster. But one thing is certain – it’s never too early for employers to plan ahead to protect employees and the business.