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Business after COVID-19: What’s the New Normal?

The COVID-19 pandemic is a historic world event. It is already causing widespread societal and economic change.

Even if lockdowns are relaxed over the coming weeks, we will have to face COVID-19 for many more months.  And new ways to live and work will have become entirely normalized by the time this pandemic is behind us.

It’s reasonable to ask ourselves what these changes may be and what they will mean to our businesses.

Visit our COVID-19 knowledge center, which have more useful content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

How Tech can help your Food & Beverage business grow

The Food & Beverage sector is experiencing a major surge. The best performers are seeing strong demand and solid cash flows – and a real opportunity to scale up significantly in the coming months.

This can be a permanent change. If they do it right, Food & Beverage companies will see a consistent increase in market profile, profits, and company value.

But it won’t stick unless they get their IT right. If your Food & Beverage company is to grow and thrive, you need to improve IT, systems and digital strategies.

In our experience, there are 5 areas to focus on:

  1. Streamline processes.
    Often this means simply ensuring that existing ERP systems are fully exploited:
    a. Reduce time wasted on manual processes like rekeying and tinkering in Excel
    b. Rollout unused or underused features (you may already have paid for!)
    c. Retrain staff to ensure tech is properly used and processes followed
  2. Reduce product wastage – especially for perishables.
    But maintain quality and quick response to retail demand by:
    a. Improving demand forecasting and business intelligence
    b. Enabling intelligent trend analysis
    c. Efficiently controlling inventory, production, and warehousing processes
    d. Utilising AI and machine-learning where practical
  3. Take an agile approach to online direct-to-customer sales.
    Focus on flexibility and foresight:
    a. Look for simple, low-cost entry points, perhaps based on Amazon as well as your own website, with minimal capital outlay
    b. When cost-effective, integrate to ERP system to minimize rekeying and to provide accurate stock availability
    c. Create a roadmap for warehousing and delivery options as the online business grows
  4. Optimize promotions and ramp up marketing.
    Improve promotion ROI and establish brand with:
    a. Wider use of marketing tools like social media and an email database
    b. Better analysis tools to optimize planning, execution and analysis of promotions (investments in retail price reductions)
    c. Improved integration and sharing between tech and marketing
    d. Well-implemented CRM and data-driven marketing systems
  5. Seize new opportunities.
    Keep testing new products and new markets!
    a. Combine new and existing data to identify capacity and market demands
    b. Combine costs and sales forecasts to model ROI

Our Principals are often asked to help scale up companies in the food and beverage sector, they’ve got the commercial and tech experience to help your company grow. If you’d like to know more about what we do, or even if you just have questions about Food & Beverage and IT, get in touch!

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

17 Critical Cyber Security Questions To Ask Your IT Team

Suddenly the office is closed, and everyone’s working from home.

The IT team is coping, but you’ve got nagging doubts about cyber security. You ask the IT team a few questions, but the answers seem to be in a different language!

Well, you should be concerned. Criminals are ramping up their activities, because systems are more vulnerable when people work from home.

But there’s no need for panic. Most cyberattacks are successful simply because basic steps haven’t been taken.

Here is a simple checklist to ask the person in charge of IT. The answers should all be YES!

Protect your data

  1. Do we know for sure that our backups are working?
  2. Does data stored on a home user’s drive get backed up?
  3. Does our central data storage have versioning?
  4. Do we have a Data Loss Prevention system running?

Protect your remote devices

  1. Do we have multi-factor authentication set up for our systems?
  2. Will our anti-virus, anti-malware and patching tools automatically update for home users?
  3. Has everyone who’s working from home signed a communications and internet usage policy?
  4. Have we given cyber security training to the team within the last six months?
  5. Are our legal policies appropriate for people working remotely and at home?

Protect your network

  1. Do we use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect remote users to the company network?
  2. Is our email system encrypted, and has DKIM, DMARC and SPF been set up on the Domain?
  3. Do we have mobile device management systems controlling all mobile equipment on the network?
  4. Do we have an appropriate system usage and data management policy?
  5. Are business applications configured to provide least-access privileges?

Stop the bad guys

  1. Is our video conferencing protected and are calls secure?
  2. Do we have the right checks in place to stop us losing money through fraud?
  3. Are our remote support tools secured against rogue access?

If you value your business, make sure the answer to all these questions is YES. And visit our Cyber Security and COVID-19 knowledge centers, which have more useful content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

 

Urgent operational challenges from some of our clients

For every business, the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge to the wellbeing and safety of their people.

For some businesses it’s also a new strategic opportunity. People’s needs, lifestyles and habits have had to change and some of these changes will be permanent. Services, products and markets will be reinvented and some companies can take advantage of these changes for their long-term benefit.

But for some companies, this is a time of urgent operational challenge. For these companies maintaining basic business operations is a huge concern and in many cases the key areas of focus right now are:

  1. Getting staff working effectively from home. People may be connected but that’s not the same as effective. For example, making business processes work may need new collaboration tools, video software and introduction of e-signing of contracts. Collaboration, efficiency and smooth operations require good tech and also positive leadership. Managers need to be coached and led through this change.
  2. Relocating operations and supply chains. Interruptions, transport restrictions and lock downs are requiring companies to move entire operations or change suppliers. These changes require leaders and managers with vision as well as strong knowledge of the operational and technical details.
  3. Reprioritising IT plans and renegotiating with suppliers. Many companies need to bring forward cloud migrations, new cyber-security or connectivity projects. Leaders need a simple IT strategy and the ability to challenge existing assumptions. Many suppliers and customers are pulling together and sharing the burden but there may be a need for tough conversations. Some companies will need to renegotiate and to protect their cash.

It’s unclear when business will return to normal, but it’s likely that normal will be different to what it used to be! IT, systems and digital will be more core to business success than ever before.

Visit our COVID-19 knowledge center, which have more useful content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

 

COVID-19 Changing suppliers, contracts and managing cash

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

COVID-19 Delivering effective homeworking

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

COVID-19 Moving operations and supply chains

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

COVID-19: Message from our Co-founder Graeme Freeman

Visit our COVID-19 knowledge center, which have more useful content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

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Graeme Freeman
Co-Founder and Director

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Thank you.

You’ll now receive regular expert business insights.

Call us on 0203 020 1864 with any questions.