b'N o one was prepared for the last few years with COVID-19 anded before the pandemic, more than half of the executives said they the dramatic changes it caused. Today, we are entering thehadnt been a top business priority.post-pandemic period and still standing. Many businesses saw their doors close for the last time due to the pandemic, but manyA study from the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction are still thriving. How did the businesses that made it through preparefound that 63 percent of U.S. small businesses surveyed last summer for the unknown? How did they adapt?had changed how they served customers, while 56 percent had changed how they procured supplies. On the digital front, 41 percent had shift-Technology is the indispensable tool that many businesses utilizeded to online sales. Indeed, experience alone gives businesses a type of in a variety of ways to keep up with the rapid changes of recent years.resilience. Those that reacted to the pandemic, whether by pivoting Technology is our bread and but- to new business lines or navigating ter, and were going to be unpack- bureaucraciestogetaPaycheck ing some key aspects of the digitalProtectionProgramloan,canfall transformationthatdifferent63 percent of U.S. smallbackontheirknowledgethenext businessesimplementedtoadapt,time disaster strikes.survive, and thrive in the face ofbusinesses surveyed last the unknown.summer had changed howThis highlights an important lesson forbusinesses:youdontneedto HOUDINIS STORYthey served customers,wait until theres a crisis to invest in HarryHoudiniwasanillusionisttechnology that will help you grow andescapeartistwholivedfromwhile 56 percent hadyour business. 1874to1926.Heperformedhis famousescapesaroundtheworld.changed how they procuredOne thing that is abundantly clear Houdinis story is a tale of magic andinthepost-pandemicenvironment mystery; only Houdini wasnt a ma- supplies. On the digitalis that we have undergone a major gician, he was a showman. Houdinifront, 41 percent had digital transformation in the work-pulled off amazing tricks because heing world. Weve seen it already in was prepared. shifted to online sales.severalindustries,mostnotablyin eCommerce where online sales have He knew every move he had to makeincreased by 50 percent since 2019. to get out of any situation. He wasBy the end of 2021, eCommerce sales able to adapt to his environment to get himself free, and he spent yearsrepresented just under 20 percent of total retail spending in the US. training his body and mind so that he could perform incredible feats of strength and endurance. Our friends at Arival reported that in travel and tourism weve seen five years of online growth in just 18 monthsbut selling digitally is Houdini was a master at adapting to his situation, and this ability tojust the tip of the iceberg. The technology thats available now is so adapt made him such an effective escape artist. One of his standardmuch more than just online sales; it enables you to adapt your entire tricks was to be punched in the stomach by someone in the audience.business operations. Time and time again, he could withstand it. Until one day, he was struck when he wasnt ready. A trick that he had performed numerousSo, how can technology help you do more with less, and be prepared times successfully, is believed to have caused his appendix to burst,for the next COVID-19-sized game-changer? leading to his deathsimply because he wasnt prepared.OPENING MORE DOORSSo, when we talk about being prepared, were really talking about theWhen the company serving Governors Island in New York City de-ability to adapt. While theres no way you can prepare for everything,cided to go from a ticketing model focused on in-person sales to one you can set yourself up to be able to overcome new challenges. To adaptwith the ability to sell tickets online, they needed a way to manage and to roll with the punches, as they say. those transactions.ADAPTING TO COVID-19 The first step was to open online ticket sales for the park. The island Now that were coming out on the other side of a global pandemic, wehad been planning to expand its operations, as it was now open year can see that one of the most significant business shifts that occurredround and was even looking to be available to visitors 24/7. They want-was adopting technologies that allowed companies to reach their em- ed to ensure there was enough staff on hand at any time of day or night ployees and customers remotely.to accommodate demand.In one survey from McKinsey, nearly 900 executives from all indus- They planned to open new channels for selling tickets with a phased PHOTO: AARON DOWD / UNSPLASH tries around the world found that companies made the transition toapproach. First, they implemented online sales, which quickly grew to digital solutions far quicker than they had ever thought possible be- become the lions share of all ticket sales. Now they could see in advance fore COVID-19. In some cases, what was previously assumed wouldhow many people were likely to show up at any given day and time.take close to two years took less than a month. The survey also found that most of the technological changes were likely to endure beyondNext, they installed a bank of kiosks for on-site, in-person sales but the pandemic. When asked why such changes werent implement- no longer required a ticket agent to be available for late shifts and 13 JULY 2022'