Tapping martech in times of crisis

Martech, adtech and business tech has rapidly developed new tools and solutions for marketers and businesses grappling with the challenges of the coronavirus crisis

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyone the world over, bringing unprecedented disruptions and challenges both to the way we work and the way we live.

Across the globe, businesses in every field and every industry, from global corporations right down to the local cafe, are feeling the effects. It’s required rapidly shifting strategies, fast deployment of new technologies and quickly adapting to a new way of work. 

Businesses have had to take account of changing customer needs while at the same time meeting the new needs of their people, their partners and citizens. In fact, work may never return to the way it was pre-COVID as the crisis has accelerated the need to prioritise digital transformation. It's clear adopting a digital-first approach can be the make or break difference for many businesses as the world moves to the new-normal, whatever shape that may take.

What's more, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to alter consumer behaviour permanently and cause lasting structural changes to the consumer goods and retail industries, according to an Accenture survey of more than 3000 consumers in 15 countries across five continents. The primary takeout from the research is that the pandemic is accelerating digital adoption.

The scale of the changes suggests it’s a long-term shift, according to Accenture managing director, Oliver Wright. “While we have been seeing these trends for some time, what’s surprising is the scale and pace — compressing into a matter of weeks changes that would likely have taken years,” he said.

Right now, with advertising spend down and consumer confidence at all-time lows, the task facing marketers is a mighty one as they grapple with how to adapt messaging, look to bolster brands and fight for growth in the current climate. Marketers seeking new tools for navigating the changing operating environment will find many martech outfits have been quick to retool solutions to meet the coronavirus challenges.

COVID-19 martech, adtech and business tech

CMO has compiled a list of new COVID-related martech, tech and business offerings to help meet the many new and varied challenges of distributed workforces, rapid digital adoption, surges in customer inquires and the sudden need for reliable virus-specific information.

Salesforce announces tools to reopen business safely

Salesforce has launched Work.com, a new platform to help businesses safely reopen within the ongoing pandemic. The idea is to have single hub as a command centre to get a 360-degree view of return-to-work readiness across locations, employees and visitors and make data-driven decisions. It will have new and existing solutions that cover reporting, contact tracing, emergency response, employee wellness and shift management. 

Freshworks integrates with Slack

Customer engagement software, Freshworks, has announced it now integrates with Slack to scale rapid customer service for organisations trying to meet increasing demand due to COVID-19-related issues and inquiries. This customer support integration extends Freshworks’ omnichannel experience that allows teams and customers to collaborate and communicate via a choice of platforms to support customers.

SAP launches tool to cut through fake COVID-19 news

SAP has launched ‘Bridge-IT’ app and dashboard, which was created using SAP and Qualtrics technology and is aimed at providing employees and customers with accurate real-time facts on COVID-19 and personalised guidance on how to cope with the virus.

It includes a data platform with trustworthy information from global and local sources,a chatbot for questions and access to company specific FAQs or healthcare information, automated guidance tools to provide resources based on user needs, and a dashboard with real-time data visualisations on impacts of COVID-19 on supply and customer-based data.

Verint launches new tools

Customer engagement outfit, Verint, has launched a COVID-19 rapid response effort to complement its Interaction Analytics solution for organisations needing immediate and ongoing insight into impacts on customers and employees now mostly working from home.

The solution is designed to help organisations formulate coordinated and data-driven responses to customer concerns, update agents on answers to key issues and customer queries, and surface real-time insights and analysis. Verint’s Covid-19 Analytics Support is configured out-of-the-box with a set of 13 pre-built categories that are easily imported into an existing Verint Speech Analytics solution, providing timely and valuable insights to improve responsiveness.

Additionally, existing language models are calibrated and customised to include new terminology related to this crisis. The results can be automatically pushed to the data warehouse to fuel insight and action across other Verint solutions, including performance management and quality monitoring.

Live launches Covid-focused digital vouchers for SMEs

Small business payment and marketing service provider, Live Group, has launched a new digital voucher platform to help Australian SMEs through COVID-19 revenue issues by offering them a way to create, promote and accept digital QR powered-vouchers. 

The vouchers are available for anyone to purchase and can be from $5 to $1000 in value and are redeemable through the Live local app. The platform is free for businesses and the digital voucher can be promoted via social media, email or SMS promotions to customers wanting to support local small businesses to pay now and claim a service or product at a later date.

LogMeIn virtualises face-to-face tech support with Rescue Live Lens

LogMeIn has launched a visual support service via mobile camera which enables field service and customer service teams to deliver on-site support remotely.

The interactive, fully browser-based solution uses a mobile device’s camera to allow agents to quickly see, diagnose and resolve equipment issues remotely. Live Lens enables IT and field service teams to deliver instant, guided assistance to lower handle times and resolve issues faster.

In other LogMeIn news, the vendor has also launched a new widget for businesses which are trying to cope with an influx of COVID-19 related communications and information sharing. The Bold360 Rapid Response FAQ Web Widget is designed to help manage the increase in volume and complexity of questions related to the crisis from both customers and employees.

Hotwire launches COVID-19 content platform

Hotwire has launched HotComms Toolkit, a content hub designed to help communications professionals prioritise and implement successful marketing strategy during COVID-19. It includes content tackling crisis communications, best practices to efficiently engage internal and external stakeholders, the importance of tone, how to maintain and reinforce its brand reputation and the importance of measurement.

The guide specific focuses on digital channels and formats such as podcasts, webinars, social strategies or videos that can help relay the right message to the right audience.

New COVID-19 digital transition pack for online retail 

Digital agency, Digital8, and all-in-one eCommerce platform, Neto, have joined forces to give Australian retailers the tools required to get their businesses up and running online through their COVID-19 support pack.

Offering rapid, cost-efficient eCommerce and digital transformation packages, the support opportunity has been designed specifically for Australians transitioning from bricks and mortar stores, to online selling.

TrafficGuard goes free

To help small and medium-sized enterprises protect ad spend during COVID-19, TrafficGuard has launched a free version of its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered ad fraud solution for free. TrafficGuard uses AI and machine learning to guard against actual human activity being accidentally labeled as fraud.

TrafficGuard's ambition is to provide customers with the ability to understand the problem better, see how big their ad fraud problem is and why traffic is suspicious or fraudulent

JotForm launch Coronavirus Responder Program

Online form platform, JotForm is offering free, unlimited JotForm accounts to eligible first responders, healthcare workers, and government and nonprofit organisations that want to help their communities.

Watson gets COVID smarts

IBM has trained its artificial intelligence (AI) platform, Watson Assistant, to now understand and respond to COVID-19-related queries.

Among the use cases are citizen engagement. Available for no charge for at least 90 days and available online or by phone, IBM Watson Assistant for Citizens on the IBM public cloud brings together Watson Assistant, Natural Language Processing capabilities, and enterprise AI search capabilities with Watson Discovery, to understand and respond to common questions about COVID-19.

Watson Assistant for Citizens leverages currently available data from external sources, including guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and local sources such as links to school closings, news and documents on a state website. IBM already is delivering this service across the United States, as well as engaging with organizations globally in Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, UK and more.

IBM is also offering the Watson assistant via IBM Cloud free for 90 days.

Facebook Community Help

Facebook launched a COVID-19 Community Help Hub to be a global platform for those looking for help and offering help during the crisis. The newest features just added are gift cards available to support local businesses, donate to local non-profits and fundraisers.

Atlassian boost suite of free collaboration tools

Atlassian Cloud is offering its products at no charge for small teams, in addition to its existing free offerings for teams of all sizes.

Teams can get cloud-based editions of Jira Software, Confluence, Jira Service Desk and Jira Core free. This adds to the existing free offerings already in place for Trello, Bitbucket and Opsgenie, which give all types of teams a set of great capabilities for collaboration.

90 seconds releases video production map 

Video production platform, 90 Seconds, has released an interactive video production location map that shows brands which video production locations are open during the Coronavirus pandemic so they continue to create video content.

To do this, the company took aggregate data in its platform and tapped its network of over 12,000 video creators across 900 cities and 160 countries to provide production location information.

Virtual AGMs now an option

Now that the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has allowed companies to hold virtual annual general meetings, Redback IR is answering the tech call with a new platform offering.

Redback IR enables executive presenters to appear via video or audio feed with supporting resources and the ability to manage commentary, questions and through an online interface.

Employment help 

A free marketing job site, m4marketer.com, has been launched by Clearmob to help marketers find new positions and companies find marketing talent during the COVID-19 crisis.

In other employment-related news, People + Work Connect, a new employment platform has been developed by Accenture, Lincoln Financial Group, ServiceNow and Verizon to bring together companies whose workforces are laid off due to COVID-19 with those in urgent need of workers. The free platform is global and cross-industry to maximise the ability to deploy people with similar skills in one industry into other industries where jobs are being created.

Webconferencing tools get raft of updates 

When workforces were rapidly working from home, Zoom quickly became the default virtual meeting room, but then privacy and security issues came to light - although the company has been working to address these.

The rapid, global work-in-your-PJs trend has now spurred on updates to other videoconferencing platforms. Here are some updates:

  • 8x8 Video Meetings has unlocked unlimited usage and Google Calendar and Outlook plugins.
  • Cisco Webex now has unlimited usage and support for up to 100 participants.
  • Facebook Messenger Rooms was quickly rolled out as a Zoom-alternative and there are no time limits and video chats can be conducted with up to 50 people at a time.
  • Google Meet is now available to everyone, previously it was just enterprise and education users, and there are no time limits now, with a restriction of 60 minutes set to come in September.
  • Microsoft Teams the premium version is now free, although some features are limited.
  • Slack has made the paid version of its chat app free to those directly supporting COVID-19 response.

COVID-19 check-in app launches

iQuarantine is a mobile check-in and case management system for the coronavirus crisis which uses NEC’s facial recognition technology to allow users to report their location and health status numerous times a day from their own homes.

The iQuarantine app prompts people to check in numerous times a day, confirming who they are, their location and current health status. When a user notifies health services they are ‘OK', an update is automatically made in the iQuarantine Case Management Portal. 

New COVID-19 crisis management portal

Critical event management outfit, Everbridge, has launched COVID-19 Shield, a new set of coronavirus protection solutions designed to protect the safety of employees and customers, maintain business operations, safeguard supply chains and reduce costs and liabilities stemming from the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Nitro launches free eSignature tool

Document productivity company Nitro has launched Nitro Sign, an eSigning and digital collaboration tool designed for digital and virtual work. It will be rolled out at no cost through 2020 to support businesses work from home during the global pandemic. It enables users to eSign and digitally collaborate on documents and is available via the Nitro Sign website, with Premium (for individuals) or Team (for teams of all sizes). After the promotional period (effective January 1, 2021), Nitro Sign will be available for US$10 per month for the Premium plan, and US$25 per month per user for the Team plan.

With unlimited eSigning, advanced team features, and integration within the Nitro Productivity Suite. Key features include unlimited eSignature requests, custom signing order to ensure proper sequence of signature approvals with multiple recipients, and nudge reminders and notifications. There is cloud storage integration including Google Drive, Box, Dropbox and OneDrive, templates,, visual analytics on document activity and signature workflows, and custom branding.

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