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Being proactive is a key lockdown strategy: a message from the CEO

July 2020

Having monitored what was transpiring in various countries overseas regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, a total lockdown locally was not unexpected, and so our main aim was to prepare our employees to work from home and be able to continue working at the most efficient level.

Being able to communicate with each other and our partners was essential. Some of our systems were moved to the cloud prior to the lockdown, to enable continued processing and support for our customers, and some were already there. Processes were put in place for ensuring that we had the ability to support any partner, new or existing, when you tried to contact us.

One of our key goals was to make certain that our employees were kept focused and received support where needed. Communication was key and it was essential to remain transparent around what was happening in the business. Additional support services were made available to our staff for HR-related issues and personal well-being while under lockdown.

Our management team was prepared and displayed an amazing ability to lead, communicate and keep teams engaged, while adapting to this new way of doing business.

From a Networks Unlimited perspective, we were very proactive in implementing a Covid Response Plan during April. This included a full operational assessment covering cashflow projection; government regulatory information and facilitation; financial plans; and actions and delivery.

I believe that our sector operates in a unique space and so, with a move to remote working and companies moving applications to the cloud to facilitate operational resilience, ICT is one of the few industries that has an active business. From where I sit, demand for our product sets is still very strong, possibly even more so than previously.

As far as our channel goes, I am seeing the adverse effects for our partners who service industries in the retail, hospitality, travel and service industries. There is a severe impact in this space and unfortunately the ones affected the most are our SMB channel and Managed Service Partners focusing on these segments, as many of their customers are not currently operational.

We are also seeing a few delays into Africa from a logistics perspective, but this has not really impacted on our business as a whole. Unfortunately many companies have been negatively affected from a cash flow perspective, and we need to manage our debtors’ process and deal terms very carefully.

On a positive note, what I have also seen in the industry is a pivot on the way companies engage with their customers:

  • A number of vendors held virtual partner events, which were excellent in their quality and information.
  • Our teams focused on virtual engagements and product updates with partners.
  • We held partner-leads and customer events on a virtual platform, as well as a number of ‘virtual braais’ with customers, while doing product presentations. These have proven to be very popular.
  • From a marketing point of view, most physical events were obviously cancelled and a pivot towards digital campaigns was increased.
  • We have also used this time to work on building the skills of our channel across the region to prepare them for the more difficult times ahead.

Finally, I believe we will have a successful year. Our choice of products, our team and our partners are all fighting to survive and together we will thrive.

Let us remain proactive!

Warm regards

Anton Jacobsz
CEO

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