As we celebrated the end of 2019 and the start of a new decade, who would have thought that just three months later, Ireland would be in lockdown? Apart from Bill Gates – and few other smart people – who warned five years ago that the world should be preparing itself for the next epidemic, no one was ready for the unprecedented situation we now find ourselves in.

While everybody’s primary concern is rightly the health of our loved ones and communities, we must also be acutely aware of the changed economic landscape and the significant impact it is having on people’s lives. As business leaders, we must do everything in our power to protect our team members, our customers and the future of our businesses. It is a tall order, particularly for those sectors most impacted, but we can – and are – already rising to the challenge.

The massive switch to online commerce is driving huge – and probably lasting – changes across the business landscape. Cashless society is fully enabled as we tap our way through our day-to-day transactions. Restaurants, meanwhile, are now take-away outlets which will feed the gig economy. Even taxi company, Lynk, has rolled out a new delivery service to address the new reality of social distancing . The whole world of business as we knew it has turned on its head in a matter of weeks. That is presenting both challenges and opportunities for businesses in Ireland and abroad.

We are seeing remarkable progress in the life sciences and medtech sectors in Ireland, from the big pharmaceutical companies through to highly innovative start-ups. Akara Robotics, attached to Trinity College, has developed a robot emitting UV light which can disinfect hospitals and remove all traces of the Covid-19 virus. Galway`s Medtronic, meanwhile, has just announced that it will publicly share the designs for one of its ventilators to accelerate global production.

New and pioneering technologies will be crucial in helping us to win the battle we are facing. In fact, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is already being used to great effect. In some countries, it is accelerating Covid-19 testing and tracing, as well as automating clinical test data and ensuring faster processing of hand sanitiser orders.

But technology alone is not enough. It is ultimately down to people and how we respond, cope and innovate. Resilience and adaptability are key, and these are assets that Irish people have in abundance. We transformed our economy during the last recession; building and attracting some of the world`s greatest enterprises. And while this crisis may temporarily halt our charge, I have no doubt that we will succeed again.

This time, we have greater advancements in the digital age to support our efforts. Many activities can be carried out remotely and online, allowing hundreds of thousands of us to continue contributing to our businesses – and maybe even drive new areas of growth. Being able to communicate, collaborate and transact online is more important now than ever before. It can make a huge difference to charities, too, and the crucial work they do. For example, Expleo worked closely with Concern Worldwide last year to digitally transform their fundraising activities. These types of initiatives will ensure that vital services continue be funded and resourced.

At Expleo, much of our success is built on rapid change. We have built a highly agile business underpinned by great technology, people and processes. We continue to proactively support our client base, both onshore and offshore. We are also continuing to learn and innovate. We have digitally transformed our onsite Expleo Academy in less than a week to provide our colleagues and customers with all of the key skills they need to address today`s new challenges – such as quality management and change management – in a highly collaborative, real-time online environment. This is just one example of our ability to be agile and support our people and customers.

Next week, we will discuss how other businesses can adopt this agile approach in order to quickly adapt to change. To quote the late and great country and western singer, Jimmy Dean: “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” 

Until then, from all of the team at Expleo, I hope everybody stays safe and healthy.

Phil Codd, Managing Director, Expleo Ireland and Regional Director, Expleo UK and Ireland

This is the first in a series of blogs from our team at Expleo Ireland which we hope will provide you with helpful advice and insights for now and for the future. Next up, Director of Business Agility, David McGrath will share his unique insights on business agility.