One word has been buzzing the world in the past three months, called Covid-19. It is a trending and impactful topic that has affected all of us in some way. Even though we try to take on the positive sides of the Corona outbreak, like spending more valuable time with families, doing some things we never had time to do, and gaining some kilos 😊, from a business perspective a lot of companies were caught unprepared. The pandemic slowed down GDPR growth worldwide, millions of jobs were lost and we will yet have to recover from the crisis that imposed reinventing business strategies and just try to adjust to what the world would look like tomorrow. InterWorks is also preparing for the future and adjusting some strategies and plans in order to stay resilient even in times of world crisis. In that manner, we organized a webinar Building a resilient business that brought a conversation among the managers and founders of InterWorks, who shared their experience and best practices in building a strong brand and leading a company with 160+ employees in all types of economies – economy flourishing to economy crash and pandemic.
In addition, we share some of the questions that were discussed in the webinar:
- InterWorks has been present in the software market for more than 16 years. How would you say COVID-19 has impacted InterWorks? – Aleksandar Memca, Managing partner at InterWorks
Talking personally, I would say that we are all impacted in a similar way – we all worry about the things that we didn’t worry about previously. We worry that the virus is going to change the economy or change the way we live, we all have loved ones that are in the impacted group to some extent, and we obviously worry about things that we cannot control. But the choice of whether to worry or not is up to us.
When talking about business, COVID-19 changes the future, the way businesses operate. The impact is more than obvious – we are working from home, putting our contingency plans on a test. We have always wondered whether we are ready to have all people working from home, and it turns out we were ready basically overnight, whether we wanted it or not 😊. Some of our customers have experienced a negative impact, as they are in the retail and transport industries, which are one of the most affected industries in this situation.
Besides the direct impact that we all feel, we have an indirect impact as well that comes from the impact that our customers, partners, and friends felt. We are witnesses of companies laying off people which further transfers to all people around them.
This is a new situation, which requires changes and which slowly introduces a new way of doing business. COVID-19 will not go away tomorrow, it will stay and the only thing that we should do is adapt to it.
- Is InterWorks on the right path technology-wise? What are the future technology trends every software company should prepare for if it wants to remain competitive on the market? – Marjan Sterjev, CTO
The world was talking about digital transformation for a long time however it seems that it is happening now. A couple of days ago I saw a joke on the social networks saying who is driving the digital transformation in your company CEO, CTO or COVID-19. And it is not a joke that COVID-19 is running the digital transformation at the moment. In that manner, the main topics when we talk about digital transformation are application services and data integration. InterWorks started 16 years ago as a company that provides integration-related services, and today we have well-recognized integration practices that deal with some of the best tools on the market like TIBCO, SnapLogic, and MuleSoft. InterWorks also has some well-established development practices that use contemporary platforms for application development like .NET core, Laravel Spring as well as front-end development with React Angular and UGS. The services and applications developed shall be tested as well. Our QA practice offers functional, regression, and performance testing using a variety of tools for test automation. InterWorks’ Data Management practice is capable to mine the data and I would say provide business insights and customer personalization to our applications. InterWorks’ DevOps and support team can provide application infrastructure in minutes and our project management team is flexible enough to organize projects and business processes effectively. So yes, I would say that InterWorks is on the right path and we can cover a full software development lifecycle. Regarding future technologies, I would bet on Big data, AI, Machine Learning, Networking and security, AR and VR, Cloud services, etc.
- Have clients changed because of the pandemic? If the answer is yes, how is InterWorks addressing these changes? – Elizabeta Memca, Principal Advisor
Yes, our clients definitely changed because first of all our clients are people, as all of us changed during this time, so have our clients. We have pretty open communication with all of them during this time and we actually got to know them a little bit more on a personal level. What changed is I would say that they actually took the hand we offered, a hand with all the positive news and everything we can help with. We’ve had more candid conversation about what’s needed, where they need to go, what are some quick wins we can do. Also, one of the other changes we’ve seen is we talk more with the administration, with the accounting companies that process our invoicing. We never knew them before. They were just someone who pays our bills. Right now, we know them as people because we have more frequent conversations and we actually talk about their families, their kids, what they like what they don’t like… They’re all concerned about the same things as we are, and that is what’s going on outside. Is it safe? How’s our business going? What can we do to survive or how can we thrive? To put it one word, it definitely had a positive impact on our relationship with customers.
- InterWorks is known for its stability and longtime presence in the market. Is InterWorks’ vision remaining unchanged in times like these? How do you manage to stay stable even in times of pandemic? – Aleksandar Memca, Managing Partner
Our mission to help our partners and come up with ideas that would really empower them to outsmart the competition hasn’t changed and is never going to change for us as a company, that’s what we do, that’s who we are. We always remind ourselves why we do things, so if we stick to that, the noise that’s happening around us really doesn’t change anything. The only thing is how we basically act and whether we do react to anything or not. So, if we look at it from that perspective we decide what actions we will take, and obviously based on the new situation that we are in, we are taking some new actions. But that doesn’t change where we go, because the destination is still the same. Whether we’ll take a different route or adjust the steps we take, our vision is still the same. We care about our people, we care about the family and we care about who we want to become. How we get there is obviously part of the strategy of the company and we are adjusting that. We are adjusting on numerous levels, some short-term some long-term, but in essence, how we stay stable is by not panicking.
We don’t ignore things, but we also don’t overreact. Everyone gets frustrated, which is normal, since there are thousands of people dying, and it is human to get frustrated. But obviously we can’t get locked down on that. We look at the situation, we pause and we understand what’s the situation and then we move on. Moving on simply means we determine what we have to do, what actions we have to take and that’s why I believe that’s the real difference between us as a company and others that see this situation as detrimental to their future. It’s not pleasant certainly, it’s not something anyone would have predicted. It’s one of those Black Swan events that you can’t predict, but it is here and we can’t ignore it, we can’t hide. So, we’re just taking actions given the chessboard that we have in front of us. I often say that if we’re good chess players we will be able to play any game. The real guiding principle on how we stay focused is to be the chess player and not be the pion or any other figure on the chessboard because then you just don’t know what’s happening. As long as you know and you are aware of the fact that someone can shake up your chessboard you’ll expect it, and that’s what we do. Regardless of whether it is COVID-19 or anything else that’s basically the way forward.
- How is InterWorks helping companies deliver outstanding value in times like these? How is technology helping companies operate during a pandemic? How is InterWorks helping its clients using technology? – Marjan Sterjev, CTO
During crisis and pandemic, people are staying at home. The world is isolated, people can communicate only remotely. The Internet is the main highway for business and social interaction. Children have their educational process conducted online and video conferencing dominates the world. The only way most of the companies can sell their goods and/or services is through online stores, e-commerce, and educational portals. Some of the companies have been more or less prepared for this digital-only scenario. However, there are a lot of companies that will start with their online store and portal implementation today. In this digital ecosystem, technology will help them integrate that with their payment and shipment providers, automate their order inventory, and supply shipment processes. This is a perfect match with the services InterWorks offers today. Besides that, InterWorks is ISO 27001 security certified company and the pandemic is one of the scenarios covered in our business continuity plan. Up to this moment, I would say our employees are working remotely from home, using well-established processes for VPN and backbone information system access provisioning. In addition, we are trying to help our clients with our security practices and apply our best practices that best fit their specific use cases.
- The pandemic changed everyone’s lives and everything. We see companies changing their approach a lot these days. Which changes have been done in InterWorks’ marketing plan now to adapt to the crisis? Are your core values and key messages still representing the company? Is your product/solution still visible to your target audience? – Elizabeta Memca, Principal Advisor
Marketing has been a hot topic during this crisis, especially because a lot of people are on lockdown and they spend more and more time on social media. They read more which is positive, what they read is another topic 😊. But, it has definitely changed our marketing approach. Now we are more present, we post more often, just because people read the information. In that manner, we post more frequently. We’ve also increased our internal communication with our employees because we don’t see each other in the hallways anymore. Our internal marketing activities are increased and we have all kinds of different engagements going on, with people sending us drawings from their kids, because we work from home and the kids are there right next to you, we also received recipes from what they cooked.
On a professional side, we have more and more professional content, we have more free guides with helpful tips, there is a webinar coming out on how you can create a simple e-commerce site using Laravel. We prepared guides on how you can start reading your data or how we can make sense of the data. In other words, we provide more guidelines and help to our clients. Going specifically to clients we have a weekly update, called working from home update, where we concentrate on all the positive things that happened in the world or inside InterWorks. For example, how many babies were born last week, how many people were cured in the world, instead of going through the news and hearing how many people died.
We managed to stay focused on the positive side and managed to focus on the help we offer to clients with the pain points they have. One client started working from home with 300 people who didn’t know how to use VPN and connect to the environment so we help with things that are outside of our domain, and we offered a hand to all of our clients which was very positive. We have clients communicating back to us with what they want to see next from us. Out of this crisis, we came up with a digital coloring book for our kids, and we are offering that to our clients free of charge. I think we have done a lot on the marketing side, we have a lot more webinars right now because people want content, real-time content, where they can ask questions not just read about it. Also, our blogging activity was very increased during this period of crisis.
If you want to find out more about what it takes to build a resilient business and thrive even in hard times, you can watch the whole webinar on our YouTube channel. If you have any other questions or are interested in one on one conversation, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.