How to Future-Proof Your Business

May 22, 2020

Some products were unknowingly built for quarantine. The video conference platform Zoom saw a 191 percent increase in daily unique users from February 28 to March 28, according to data by Okta. Before COVID-19, Zoom was used mainly in the office. Today, employees rely on it for remote work, students and educators use it for online learning and family and friends connect while practicing social distancing.

The Zoom boom wasn’t just a result of increased user engagement. 

Without a pre-COVID-19 business strategy, the team wouldn’t have been able to seize opportunities like offering Zoom to universities for free, providing extra customer support and upgrading security measures.

Even for companies whose products aren’t as perfectly positioned for a pandemic as Zoom’s, contingency plans and long-term planning can pay off. 

According to the LA tech leaders we spoke with, company mottos and core values act as an anchor for these strategies, and have the ability to remind company leaders and employees alike to be adaptive to change. 

 

Stacy Stubblefield
Chief Innovation Officer

Mobile identity solution company TeleSign’s “be entrepreneurial” core value has been the cornerstone for future-proofing the business because it asks that employees be flexible in the face of adversity, Stubblefield said. Grit and ingenuity have encouraged leaders to find new ways to engage with clients, like virtual events. 

 

Pre-COVID-19, what was a key strategy or plan you put in place to future-proof your business, and why? 

We have three values that are core to every decision we make at TeleSign, one of which is to “be entrepreneurial.” The great thing about the entrepreneurial core value is that it stresses flexibility and ingenuity in dealing with any issue that arises. This can range from simple, everyday issues that need to be addressed in new and creative ways to crises like COVID-19.

 

How is that strategy paying off for you now? 

COVID-19 forced us to completely rethink the way we work. We are virtualizing our workplace, moving events online and finding new ways to engage with clients. Our entrepreneurial spirit has allowed us to respond to COVID-19 with a sense of empowerment knowing that we can face any challenge and find a creative way to overcome it. As a result, we’re seeing incredibly high productivity and engagement from our workforce around the world. 

We are virtualizing our workplace, moving events online and finding new ways to engage with clients.”

 

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from this experience, and how do you hope to apply it to your business moving forward? 

The most important thing I’ve learned is that employee empowerment and flexibility are key to weathering a crisis. It’s easy to develop a normalcy bias where you assume that each day will be the same as the one that came before it. However, as we’ve seen, the world can change in dramatic ways very quickly, and it’s important for any business to be able to respond quickly and flexibly rather than remaining mired in old processes and technology.

 

Mike Finley
Chief Executive Officer

The Boingo company motto, “Change before you have to,” means that every decision is a proactive one. For over 20 years, Finley said Boingo adapts to how clients use the internet to connect with customers and expects long-term changes post COVID-19. 

 

Pre-COVID-19, what was a key strategy or plan you put in place to future-proof your business, and why?

Change before you have to. Being an innovator in wireless technology has meant we’ve had to pivot our business several times to ensure we stay ahead of important trends. If we hadn’t made those tough calls, we wouldn’t be in business today. Too often, companies wait to change until it’s too late.

If we hadn’t made those tough calls, we wouldn’t be in business today.”

 

How is that strategy paying off for you now?

As Boingo pivoted to a more B2B-focused business model, our revenues became more predictable. Today, 95 percent of our revenues are either contractual or recurring, which provides a great deal of stability and resilience. In addition, as an essential business, we know customers depend on us for connectivity. We frequently stress test our networks to practice business continuity. Our early adoption of cloud technologies and network function virtualization (NFV) has enabled a seamless shift to remote work and virtual monitoring of our networks around the globe.

 

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from this experience, and how do you hope to apply it to your business moving forward? 

This experience has reinforced how important it is to change before you have to. Innovation will continue to guide Boingo’s business as we work with our partners to adapt in a new world. Whether it’s an airport moving toward a more touchless passenger experience, a stadium leaning on IoT to improve the fan experience, or campuses that revolutionize what learning looks like post COVID-19, our customers will be pivoting, and we’ll need to pivot right along with them. Thankfully, we are well-practiced at the mantra, “Change before you have to.”

 

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