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While COVID-19 has been wreaking havoc on businesses, UAE-based company, EVOTEQ has been digitally enabling its customers to overcome the ensuing challenges. In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Jihad Tayara, CEO, EVOTEQ explained how the company reacted to the impact of COVID-19 and the solutions it has been offering to its customers for them to adapt to the new normal. 

COVID-19 has affected almost all businesses and sectors in the region and the world. Did you halt all your projects? What strategy did you adopt to pursue operations?

While COVID-19 has indeed had a dramatic impact on human lives and the global economy, it has also acted as a catalyst for companies to accelerate the pace of their digital transformation. Companies have had to rethink their business models, processes and offerings in the midst of partial or full lockdowns around the world. For a digital solutions and consultancy provider such as EVOTEQ, the current situation has enabled us to continuously help our clients push the boundaries of adapting to a new normal post-COVID-19. As the renowned economist Milton Friedman said: “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change.”

EVOTEQ has been identifying blind spots and gaps for our clients and helping them overcome these with the right digital tools and infrastructure through our in-depth expertise. Our strategy during these difficult times has therefore been to create value for our clients by offering technologies and contactless solutions that meet the needs of the hour such as remote working tools, facial recognition security systems for contactless access into buildings, electronic bracelets and thermal scanning systems for temperature checks.

This means that instead of needing to halt projects, we have just reprioritised and are currently pursuing opportunities that are most relevant in this climate.  

Did you adopt any particular measures to help your customers amid this crisis?

As mentioned earlier, we have been providing the necessary digital applications and solutions for our clients who have had to transition to remote working arrangements. This work includes introducing the right and secure platforms and tools for them, depending on their business requirements.

We also have been helping other organisations measure their digital readiness through surveys and consultation, contributing to their business contingency plans and advising them on how to fortify their operations. EVOTEQ does not just implement technological solutions, we work in a collaborative fashion starting with consultancy and advisory, through to the selection of the right technology all the way to implementation and even management of the operations of these solutions for our clients.   

In your opinion, how important is it for businesses to embrace digital transformation now more than ever?

The pandemic has proven that companies and industries who fail to adapt to technological changes are at a serious disadvantage. Not only does digital transformation ensure business continuity and resilience, equip employees with the tools and systems to work across different circumstances – but it also lowers costs, boosts productivity and performance, as well as allocate resources more efficiently.  With the right digital infrastructure in place, businesses are in a strong position to weather difficult situations with greater flexibility and expand value-added offerings to their own customers.

COVID-19 emphasized the important role of advanced technologies. Which ones do you think are playing the most important part today? 

There are a number of technologies that are in the critical right now. Tracing technology and AI have been invaluable in monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and predicting the risk of infection from patients. We have seen various countries using robots, electronic bracelets and mobile applications for this purpose with qualifiable results.

In addition, advanced traceability technologies can also be implemented within global supply chains. With the crisis affecting various countries at different times, global supply chains have been severely impacted along with food security and availability of products. As countries and businesses look to diversify their supply chain, traceability will be essential for fortifying supply chains, ensuring availability of goods, and verifying their origins.

Contactless payments and contactless security access, which often use voice and facial recognition, have also seen some momentum for companies who are customer-facing, or whose employees have physically returned to the office.

Communications platforms have seen the largest growth with increased traffic and user bases, such as Microsoft Teams, Webex and Zoom. Unified digital communications have had unprecedented demand during this time as people seek connectivity and businesses face the need to bridge gaps between leadership, stakeholders and employees. This will lead to a greater burden on our global networks, and as such, the advent of 5G will be very welcomed.

In your opinion what are the gaps that this crisis has amplified?

The crisis has definitely amplified the shortcomings in companies’ digital readiness. Companies that had invested less in digital infrastructure and employee training would have had a more difficult transition to remote working and digitally run operations.

Similarly, while the UAE has had admirable success in dealing with COVID-19 patients, many countries have not been as reactive. The pandemic has taken its toll on healthcare systems across the globes. But herein also lies an opportunity for leveraging technology to shoulder the burden on the healthcare sector such as telemedicine, remote monitoring tools, sensors and wearable technology.

The novel coronavirus crisis has also highlighted the need for us to re-think our workplaces and buildings. With so much of time spent within buildings and interacting with people, there is a need to learn from the pandemic and introduce technologies such as facial and voice recognition, contactless pathways and other smart building elements to help mitigate the risk from infectious diseases in the future and help us boost performances.

Have you elaborated a recovery plan? What are the main elements you intend to focus on to achieve a successful recovery?

As a company with the DNA of a digital player, EVOTEQ has very quickly adapted to the changes, smoothly weathering disruptions and having promptly adopted a new way of working from home. We had a frictionless infrastructure and digitally-ready employees, which did not encumber our business operations and customer engagement at any point.

In addition, when it comes to our business strategy and focus, addressing customer pain points and advising them about the use of technology is at the heart of what we do. We didn’t have to considerably change our strategy. What happened was that our customers’ concerns, pain points and challenges radically evolved. We stepped in to help them overcome these issues, mainly with cloud, contactless and frictionless solutions as mentioned earlier.

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