2020 was a year full of surprises and mysteries. We did not anticipate that the world could change 90 degrees. When we started this year, it was like every other year we had experienced previously. We had a lot of ideas and began to make travel plans for the whole year, with the conferences we needed to attend, the revenue goals we needed to hit, investments we needed to make, and so on.
On our event calendar, we had planned two Summit’s; one in Cleveland, OH on April 13, 2020 and the other in Los Angeles, CA on November 10, 2020. Before the restrictions were put into place, our team also attended some conferences (Acumatica Summit and eTail West) in January and February of this year.
When we started hearing about the COVID-19 Pandemic sometime in February, we assumed that it had nothing to do with us and it was a China-specific problem. Business went on as usual. Then, in March, there was a lot more about the virus in the news. Bill Gates started speaking extensively about it, and he compared COVID-19 to a software start-up which is looking to scale exponentially. This made an impact, as we have seen software start-ups scale exponentially with compounded growth.
Work From Home
We did not want to take a chance considering the close proximity with how we work in our offices. We also wanted to experiment with working from home. Our initial assumption was that we would try working from home for a week, and things should be back to normal after that.
On March 13, 2020, we announced that all our employees would be working from home and shut down our offices temporarily for safety reasons. One week after we closed our offices, there was a nationwide shut-down in different parts of the world (in the US and India). The decision we took one week in advance before the local authorities’ announcement was a good one, and it allowed us to prepare better.
How did the team respond?
We take a lot of pride in our work culture. Our team was super responsive. The first few months, as a team, we were very cautious with our spending and we took a closer look at all our expenses. We did our best to support our team in the ways we could. In March, as it became even more tense, we took it one day at a time.
By April, the team had adjusted; however, we were still very cautious as a team. In India, there was a complete lock-down where people did not come out of their homes. We also saw productivity levels increase. Thanks to the digital initiatives of the Indian Government, it was easier than we anticipated with the internet connectivity. Our team was very efficient, responding to client’s needs and supporting them during these turbulent times. By May, we understood that this was going to be the norm for the next 6 months, or longer, and it all sunk in.
In the early days of working from home, people were shy to turn on their videos and we had to ask them to turn on their cameras. As months passed by, turning on the cameras and seeing each other became a practice. We did not even imagine that we would be able to serve our customers, build products, launch product releases, conduct eSummits and more while working from hundreds of different locations. It was a big disruption, but in a positive way.
We went virtual with our monthly meetings and realized that we will be able to carry on our business with a distributed workforce. We also provided the flexibility to continue to work from home, if employees so choose. We also saw some of our employees permanently relocating to their hometowns in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India.
Travel is an integral part of our culture, and we invest in travel because we strongly believe it creates a lot of exposure to our team. However, with travel paused for the moment, we looked at ways to create similar exposure. In the past, as a team, we have benefited from the Stanford Continuing Studies Program.
With learning becoming digital and Stanford opening up their Continuing Studies program to everyone across the world, our entire team had the opportunity to enroll in Stanford Courses. There is a lot of exposure in a classroom with people from different parts of the world. A good number of our employees benefited from this, and we’re very grateful to Stanford for enabling global learning.
DCKAP eSession and eSummit
Since we were not able to travel in 2020, we made the most with our virtual events by creating the DCKAP eSessions and eSummit. The eSessions were designed with a smaller format in mind, for an audience of around 50 attendees. The DCKAP eSummit was designed as a larger event, to take the place of our in-person Summit event.
Thanks to Zoom, we have been able to successfully experiment. We have seen an increase in engagement with our content. We are also very honored that Erin Meyer, co-author of “No Rules Rules”, was able to join us for the DCKAP eSummit in November. Thanks to all our speakers for being so supportive of our efforts. We do miss our travel and in-person events. However, the eSession and eSummit has helped with our marketing efforts.
We had paused hiring for the first few months of the pandemic. However, in June, we realized that this is a great time to hire. In India, we largely recruited people from Tamil Nadu (where our office is located). That changed this year as well, and we started hiring from different parts of the country, from North to South and East to West. This has also started bringing in a lot more diversity to our team.
Though we miss seeing each other in person, one great benefit out of this pandemic is that we’ve been able to spend a lot of time with our family. This definitely strengthened relationships. Our families have been able to see how we work daily. They were also a part of some of our calls. Kids also got a lot of business exposure and saw what their parents did every day.
Our customers have been very understanding and supportive of our efforts. If there were ever mistakes from our end or if connectivity issues happened or babies were crying on a call, they understood. Our customers wanted us to succeed as a team. We were able to deliver projects and build products without any major challenges. We cannot thank our customers enough. Thank you!
2021 and beyond
The world is full of surprises. Smooth seas don’t make a good sailor. We got to experience it first hand with the COVID-19 pandemic. We strongly believe that digital technology initiatives will enable growth and create prosperity, not just for people in the tech but for everyone. The world has become even smaller and it is a level playing field today. We will begin to see new technologies and disruptions being created from different parts of the world and better connectivity being enabled. The distributed wealth creation and prosperity will be a reality, and global trade will be the new norm.
Thank you to our customers, employees, partners, and the entire DCKAP Community.
Happy New Year & Wishing everyone a healthy and prosperous 2021!
Stay Healthy and Stay Safe.