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Case Study: COVID-19 Has Created an Entirely New Era of Digital Transformation

PARTNERS / 04.22.21 / Alex Willis

In 1997, Netflix was a very different company, renting and selling DVDs via the postal service and eventually the Internet. In 2007, everything changed. That was the year the company first introduced its streaming service and ultimately (if unintentionally) destroyed the rental industry.

For those companies that have operated for decades and don’t think they need to change to keep with the times, consider this. A digitally transformed company doesn’t just enter a market. It has the potential to decimate it and disrupt it right to its very core, unlocking new revenue streams and leaving competitors in the dust. As you might expect, this isn’t an easy or quick thing to achieve, but advancements in technology open new pathways to potential that didn’t exist before.

Successful business transformation requires more than adopting a few new pieces of software, venturing into the cloud, or going paperless. It demands a cultural shift—a complete rethinking of existing business processes, and potentially creating new ones.

This isn’t something that happens overnight. It usually takes years of groundwork. Unfortunately, thanks to COVID-19, businesses weren’t given that kind of timeframe.

They had weeks. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, many were forced down a path they were by no means prepared to walk. Companies had to grapple with the challenges of secure remote work and digital collaboration.

By now, everyone who needed to adapt has either done so or gone out of business. There’s no going back to the way things were. Distributed work is, as we’ve grown fond of saying, “the new normal” – but that isn’t always a bad thing.

Rather, it represents an opportunity to take a great leap forward to improve productivity, employee satisfaction, and customer engagement—which is where Shafer Systems comes in. Based in Dallas, Texas, Shafer’s focus has always been on digital transformation. Its core product, Notate, is designed to help its clients take the first step. 

From Paperless to Officeless

Available globally and in multiple languages, Notate connects with Microsoft Exchange to enable more efficient remote collaboration. Using Notate, professionals can digitally record everything from handwritten notes to physical documents. The app also features advanced desktop-quality functionalities like PDF editing, audio recording, task management, and a built-in calendar.

“We designed Notate to provide the same level of usability and flexibility you’d experience in an application like Evernote or Adobe Acrobat,” says Joel Shafer, Founder and CEO of Shafer Systems. “The idea is that with Notate, you have access to your entire digital workplace no matter where you are.”

“We’ve seen a dramatic peak in sales as users have transitioned to working from home,” he continues. “One financial customer, for instance, enabled all of their brokers to work remotely by allowing them to view, edit, and sign documents on iPads. They were able to keep productivity high while transitioning away from their office PCs.”

Security is perhaps the most significant challenge associated with distributed work. Businesses must protect sensitive data, especially on home networks and personal computers. This is especially crucial for organizations in regulated industries such as financial services firms and healthcare providers.

Shafer recognized this early on, which is why it built Notate using the BlackBerry® Dynamics™ platform. A secure foundation for mobile apps, Dynamics allows Shafer Systems to leverage BlackBerry’s portfolio for authentication, encryption, secure connectivity, interoperability, and Zero Trust security. Notate is also integrated with several BlackBerry productivity apps, including BlackBerry® Work and BlackBerry® Access.

“In enterprise, it’s all about productivity and security,” Shafer concludes. “That’s a difficult, delicate balance to strike at the best of times–but during COVID, it can seem insurmountable. Our partnership with BlackBerry has allowed us to strike that balance with ease for our clients.”

For the Distributed Workplace, the Future is Bright

The novel coronavirus took the global shift towards distributed work and transformed it from a slow burn into a raging inferno. Those businesses that survived the lockdown are now well-positioned to create market disruptions of their own. Drawing on what they’ve learned over the past year, I expect that they’ll become part of a new revolution in business transformation.

A revolution that BlackBerry and its partners will happily support.  

Learn more about Notate for BlackBerry. 

Alex Willis

About Alex Willis

Alex Willis serves as the Vice President, Global Technical Solutions at BlackBerry.