1. Implement a response plan across the lines of business
ICT service providers must move swiftly to implement their action plans and seize the opportunity. The main goals should be protecting and revitalizing their core business, alleviating any disruption in their own business, and then developing a strategy to excel once stability has returned.
Plans need to include product development, sales and marketing, and operations. A COVID-19 response taskforce is critical for facilitating the exchange of information, accelerating decision making, and ensuring a consistent approach.
2. Shape product offerings to support urgent ICT needs
With respect to products, ICT service providers need to bolster their analytics and research capabilities to keep pace with rapidly changing demand. In the very short term, products should focus on societal support and urgent ICT needs, such as cyber security and applications to assist government responses to the crisis. New solutions, relating for example to enable remote offices or the digital supply chain, can be repackaged as easily installed versions to help troubled companies.
One pertinent, immediate offering is a remote “task-force-as-a-service.” Through this offering, ICT service providers can put their development and operations teams to good use in helping companies manage their burgeoning reliance on technology while reducing IT costs.
Beyond assisting clients with short-term challenges, ICT service providers need to develop sector-specific solutions to help them succeed in the new environment. They can generate this innovation through exchanging ideas with clients, seeking partnerships with technology and telecom companies, and redirecting resources away from their current major projects.
3. Overhaul traditional sales approaches
To protect the core business, ICT service providers should immediately overhaul traditional sales approaches. They need to train their sales representatives in consultative selling, which involves helping the client understand their technology problems, not just selling technology solutions. They may also need to redeploy these sales representatives. There should be bold moves to retain troubled flagship customers. Potential measures to reduce their IT costs include innovative payment terms and mid-term rebates, offering additional services within existing contracts, and outcome-based fees. It is essential to use detailed projection of ICT demand to support effective sales pipeline management.
Marketing should make better use of digital channels, while focusing on the urgent ICT needs of distressed sectors. In particular, they can organize competitions, hackathons, that crack problems for use cases. These competitions can be done privately with clients or publicly. Marketing can publicize these hackathons digitally through campaigns as they highlight how ICT providers are seeking to help society during the pandemic.
4. Step up business agility and operational readiness
On the operations side, ICT service providers should use resources effectively, closely managing finances through real-time cash monitoring. They have been pioneers in agile workforce management, and now need to implement further flexible work arrangements internally and with contractors. Contractual agreements, such as shared risk-reward models and arrangements with experts to help with industry-specific solutions, will need to reflect uncertain demand.