News media and the Internet are on fire with the coronavirus. It’s disrupting lives and businesses around the world. Over 50 countries are already infected. The number of infected people are raising. A sad and growing tragedy of thousands already dead. Tourism is way down. Large technology events and other public gatherings are being cancelled. Stock markets are down. Supply chains are drying up. And, that is just the tip if the iceberg.

The Corona buzz is definitely getting louder every day as the world ramps up its preparation for what’s to come.

“Hope for the best but plan for the worst”

Smart companies are already focused on the business continuity side of the equation. Here are 5 things that the IT channel should be tackling immediately to ride this storm:

1. SUPPLY: The supply chain disruption is going to impact companies depending on production or parts, especially from China. Product sales will be hammered. The ripple effects of this will be devastating for all companies who are relying on hardware sales. This will continue well after the crisis is over as it will take time to ramp back up. If a significant portion of your business relies on hardware then stock up now and find alternative sources. Buckle up for a bumpy ride.

2. LIVE DOWN, VIRTUAL UP: Face-to-face contacts will be reduced to a large degree until we beat this virus. Large gatherings will most likely be postponed as people will obviously want to avoid higher exposure risks. That said, most smaller local events will probably continue as people are social creatures and the exposure risk from smaller groups is much less. Virtual meetings and webinars will become the go-to place for people to connect and learn. Digital news media, social media (and the Internet at large) will be where the buyers and sellers gravitate to carry on business. Smart companies are already ramping up their digital presence and engaging with digital news media to buffer disruption. We are already seeing a major increase in demand for leveraging and webinar bookings from vendors looking to ensure that awareness, partnership-building and retention continues. If there was ever a good time to double down on your virtual game, this is it!

3. BUYING DECISION DISRUPTION: The affect of delayed buying decisions on the channel can be significant. Unfortunately, there is very little anyone can do to mediate this problem. One of the main buffers to this problem can be remote managed services. Now is a good time to double down on selling more remote managed services. That said, channel partners will need to prepare for the delivery and monitoring of the services if their staff gets sick.

4. BUSINESS HEALTH: If the situation worsens or extends for a long period of time, some businesses will most likely have to layoff or shut down. The impact on businesses and its recovery can be slow and painful. The smart move is to switch to a remote (stay-at-home) workforce. This will also mediate the problem for employees with children (who will most likely not be able to attend school or daycare if this virus gets out of control). All of the tools are already available to seamlessly build a remote workforce. There is a good potential opportunity for channel partners to sell their clients more technology so their employees can work remotely.

5. GO DIGITAL: Shift resources to build out your digital presence and marketing. Improve your digital tools, website, content, advertising and social media. You can continue to reach, educate and prospect customers virtually. With more eyeballs and more time for people to roam the digital World, you may actually get more attention and traction than you expect. Improving you digital game is something that you must do anyway and now may be a good time to focus on it.

It goes without saying that the ultimate impact of this virus will be on people. We can replace things but cannot replace people. So be safe. Protect yourself, family, friends and colleagues and hopefully we should also make it through this terrible mess!

Always worth repeating something that we should be doing every day: “Wash hands often. Avoid hand to face contact! If you feel sick, stay home!”