As President of a Digital Transformation Service Provider, every year presents new challenges for my team and me to re-imagine clients' business models, optimize their IT investments, or elevate their customer experience using our solution-driven thinking. 2020 started on the same note of helping clients achieve their business transformation goals. But it turned out to be a different year for everyone. As this year is coming to a close, I decided to share what it's like to be leading from the front.
The Initial Response
The company was doubling revenue every year since its inception; 2020 was no different. There was an active pipeline @ more than 300% of the company's 2019 revenues, and most of them were in the final stages of getting executed. As President, the leadership team and I were preparing for a big 2020, but then the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a health pandemic on March 11, 2020. Like every other business, we had no option but to adjust as quickly as possible while taking care of our employees, clients, and partners.
Imagine, as a Digital Transformation Provider Leader, it's your job to not only keep your business operations as usual but also keep clients' businesses up-to-date, keeping in mind uncertainties ahead. During pandemic physical operations of companies are affected, this means the Digital arm's responsibilities have increased, and so is ours.
I called for several emergency leadership catch-ups with two messages: First, we need to take care of our employees, and Second, we need to help our customers enter this new era of virtual work with complete confidence in our teams and digital solutions as they are an absolute imperative in such an environment. Our digital plans always worked for our customers, and it was no different this time.
Now, it is my team's job to keep over 450 employees informed, safe, and move ahead in the same direction while working virtually. We have over 50 clients, including retail firms, banking and financial institutions, and eCommerce firms, and all of them have a high dependence on the development and implementation support we provide.
The whole business world was in panic mode, and I, too, had my fears about the coming unknowns. As I was silently facing these fears and rolling out new strategies alongside my team, everyone acted vigilantly to tackle all the challenges in the way. This is the return that you get when you build a People-Centric Culture and empower them in a way that matters to them.
Our Innovation and Development center is based out of Hyderabad, India. As the global pandemic dimensions first came into view, we proactively shifted the entire staff to the WFH set-up. We assembled our IT and Operations team to know the immediate asks for going remote and the roadblocks. We did it in less than three days with all tight-security adherence and necessary compliance. Many Disaster recovery drills in the past helped us achieve this.
On the customers' side, we interacted with each of our customers and assured them that their operations would run as usual. We formed a customer advisory panel composed of our senior leaders to understand any immediate clients' challenges and how we could help them.
Selling in the New Normal
Once we shifted the entire staff to remote, we rolled out a new selling strategy in the New Normal. Qentelli's sales team excelled in selling through live networking events, conferences, and meeting prospects face to face. In the absence of these meetings and events, Qentelli's sales and marketing teams turned to Digital. The most popular digital marketing avenues were webinars. Unfortunately, everyone started conducting webinars, and there was an overload of these webinars.
Qentelli's leadership team was quick to realize and moved away from running the regular technology webinars. Instead, the company did a virtual wine tasting, virtual cooking, and online poker events, which were more fun and engaging. Each of these events had a 15-20 minute company introduction followed by hearing from a vintage winemaker or a master chef. The marketing team increased outreach via LinkedIn and other channels; the sales team educated prospects and clients on how digital automation can help them survive the pandemic and accelerate their next phase of growth.
In terms of revenues, the company maintained its 2019 numbers while actively building a significant pipeline for 2021. Qentelli also released some new offerings in the Intelligent Automation, Digital automation, and Data analytics space.
2020 has been a Year of Awards
2020 has been a challenging year but rewarding too. Qentelli has won several awards in the last few months. This reaffirms that we are providing exceptional service to our clients, and the industry is recognizing our efforts. To name some of the recent awards we won:
- Qentelli has made its debut on the list of Deloitte's North America Technology Fast 500™. We ranked at 194 overall and 8th in Texas, and 2nd in Dallas. The Technology Fast 500 honors are based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth, and services are provided using the company's intellectual property.
- Named as the Second Fastest growing technology company in North Texas by Tech Titans in their Fast Tech list
- Recognized by 'Great Place to Work' as one of the Top 100 Fortune Best Small and Medium Workplaces™ 2020
- Named to the list of Dallas100 Fastest-Growing small private companies in North Texas by The Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship at SMU Cox School of Business.
- Under the category of Small Business Awards 2020, Qentelli has been recognized as 'Most Innovative Business Transformation Solutions Provider - USA' by the Corporate Vision Magazine.
- Qentelli's Co-founder and CDO, Prasanna Singaraju recognized as Gold Winner in the Technology Executive of the Year category by Best in Biz Awards 2020.
Our HR and Internal Communications team stepped up
The sudden shift to WFH brought many changes in day-to-day workings like team meetings, daily stand-ups, informal catch-ups, and other activities. We knew employees would face burnout, so we started early preparations via our HR and Internal Communications machinery. We rolled out WFH Guidelines and COVID-19 Infopack to educate employees about the global pandemic and how to stay safe.
Additionally, the company ensured regular check-ins with all employees using virtual tools. To ensure productivity, we put together a comprehensive plan for promoting employee welfare. This includes regular All-Hands Meet, Virtual Informal Catchups, Online Yoga and Mental Health Sessions, Rewards, and Recognitions Program. Even in the pandemic, Qentelli completed its annual performance appraisal cycle & given a pay raise to all eligible employees. Qentelli arranged company-sponsored teleconsultation for all its employees and family members suspecting COVID-19 symptoms.
Lessons to take forward
- As a President, I always believed People are your most essential assets, and this crisis proved it right. In 5 years, we have invested a lot in building a People-Centric Culture, and it paid off at the right time. The tough times proved that half the battle is won if you have the right people in place.
- Crisis and Communication go hand in hand. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of communicating with your employees, partners, and clients in this situation. At times, I felt we are at the risk of over-communicating, but the results in terms of productivity, trust, and commitment removed the clouds of dilemma. Giving an overall picture to employees and clients is the best idea when everything is uncertain.
- Plans and strategies go for a toss when a health crisis like COVID-19 hits the world. Sitting down and making strategies will not work. So, as a President, I placed firm faith in my team and took quick and strategic decisions to direct all my efforts towards employees' welfare and clients' success.
How's 2021 looking for us?
We are well on track with our 2021 plan and goals. As a team, we are looking for some in-person face time. We work hard and party harder. In 2021, we are looking to kick our shoes off, let our hair down, and party a lot to compensate for all the lost face time with each other.
As every challenge presents a new opportunity, businesses have now realized how important it is to fast-track their digital initiatives. And this is a trillion-dollar opportunity for Qentelli, a Services provider helping organizations bring their native mindset into the digital medium using technology as an enabler positively contributing to Top-line and Bottom-line. We are hoping for a tremendous 2021 for our company and industry as-a-whole.