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2020: Lessons from a Strange Year

Lessons from 2020

2020 is drawing to an end. I bet you loved reading that sentence, didn’t you? Here, I’ll say it again: 2020 is almost over. I love writing it, too.

While we can’t say for sure what 2021 holds in store for us, we do know we’ll be better prepared to face it. 2020 threw us all into the eye of a storm that we’re still learning how to navigate.

Yes, it was a hard year for everyone, regardless of the industry we’re in. The economic shock was hardest-hitting on small- and medium-sized companies, which reported the most losses.

We’re grateful that we have been able to weather the COVID storm and stay in business to continue serving our clients and providing good jobs for our team. We know not every small or local business is as lucky. 

The work we do has become all-the-more relevant in this volatile environment where companies with contactless operations and the ability to pivot quickly win. 

Remote Work Is Here to Stay

The statistics are scary. But a lot of businesses got the kick in the pants they needed to fast-track digital transformation efforts. It was the companies that managed to adapt and pivot to digital operations and remote work that fared best. 

We had a bit of a head start that helped us continue our work seamlessly and with no pandemic-induced business interruptions. Our processes allowed us to make a smooth transition to working from home. We never stopped serving our customers because we didn’t need to take a breather and regroup.

We started moving the Far Reach team to remote-ready work several years ago. Did we do it with an upcoming global pandemic in mind? We did not. Our efforts were focused on giving our team flexibility to do their work wherever was most effective for them. Plus, it has allowed us to hire the best talent without geography as a limitation. 

Our work over the last few years to become a virtual-ready team paid off yet again in March when everything rapidly shut down. Team members were able to take their laptops and work from wherever was safest for them. Most of us already had an at-home workspace set up, and everyone who needs it has VPN access. 

We had all the tools in place to make remote work seamless:

  • Zoom for video conferencing 

  • Digital project management through TargetProcess

  • Team communication on Slack

  • A digital portal, lovingly named the Huddle Helper, for team shoutouts and core value engagement

Digital Transformation Becomes a Necessity

Now more than ever, the digital economy is finally here to stay. Even the most tech-averse companies have begun to digitize some of their operations. The strides the world has made are nothing short of impressive. The pandemic has accelerated the digitization of customer interactions by several years in just a few months, according to a recent McKinsey study. It’s no wonder the world has made such strides since no less than 70% of businesses have increased or at least maintained their digital transformation spend in 2020. And likely under the pressure of the pandemic.

At Far Reach, we’ve always been huge advocates of using technology to:

  • Increase efficiency by streamlining operations and reducing manual work

  • Offer better customer experiences across channels and even reach new customers in new markets

  • Become truly agile to enable faster, more data-driven decisions

  • Boost productivity with proper implementation of the right tools

Throughout 2020, we were happy to continue to support our clients remotely. We worked eagerly with existing clients to expand their systems and add new features to respond to new customer needs. We look forward to continuing the work with our existing clients as well as helping new clients make software an integral part of their business success.

Good Decisions with Great Timing

As the world was scrambling to build a digital presence (sometimes from scratch!), there were also organizations who were all set up to pivot in the face of the pandemic. A great example is one of our very own clients, Leading Edge Fundraising. 

Leading Edge Fundraising helps school sports teams raise funds by selling cookie dough, discount cards, tumblers, and other similar items. As you can imagine, the usual in-person events or door-to-door fundraisers were out of the question this year.

Read the full story about Leading Edge Fundraising pivoting during COVID.

Thankfully, Leading Edge Fundraising had started their digital transformation prior to this year. In 2018, they began working with Far Reach to build a platform that added online fundraising capabilities to their services. Back then, this was not an emergency or an absolute necessity. However, they saw the potential online fundraising had and they acted quickly and strategically.

Fast-forward to 2020, not only did they stay open for business, they also managed to carry on with their important mission and support sports teams in meeting their financial goals, even when they were unable to meet in person.

Better yet, Leading Edge Fundraising added a new revenue stream: They lease the technology we built together to similar companies that aren’t their direct competitors. They managed to remain financially secure during a year that was brutal for most companies in their industry. 

And yes, they still had to pivot and adapt when COVID hit. New delivery and payment methods had to be added in order to comply with social distancing rules. But Leading Edge Fundraising already had the digital portal in place, so adding a few new features and options was infinitely faster than building a system from scratch.

We are honored to be part of their story, and of the stories of our many other clients putting in the hard work while things are tough. We know that we always have a lot to learn from our amazing clients—from their bold business decisions to the way they roll with the punches when things get tough. In fact, to us, this is what 2020 was about.

What 2020 Taught Us

Despite it being a tough year, 2020 taught us that we can also be incredibly resilient and adapt to even the most adverse of circumstances. We’re stronger now and we’re ready to tackle anything 2021 might throw at us. (But we’d be OK with a little break from surprises, too.)

A key takeaway for 2020 was, for us, the importance of making strategic technology and business decisions with the future in mind. Once again, we got confirmation that you should never put the agility of your business on hold. A lot of things can wait, but your ability to adapt and make data-driven decisions to respond to new market demands should never be one of them.

What technology and business lessons did you learn in 2020? Reach out