Even as recently as the beginning of the year, we couldn’t have predicted the 2020 Enterprise Connect playing out the way it did. But it does seem fitting that one of the country’s longest-running annual conferences for enterprise communications and collaboration would take place even in the middle of a global pandemic—and that the show’s organizers would make it work as an all virtual conference. RingCentral is proud to have played a thought-leadership role in #EC20.

In one of our speaking sessions, RingCentral assembled a panel of CIOs—David Baker of Pacific Dental Services, PM Pediatrics’ Steven Xenos, and RingCentral’s own CIO Trevor Schulze—to discuss what the enterprise will look like in a post-pandemic world. Their insights were illuminating.

New tools and strategies for the post-pandemic enterprise
Having just experienced a forced transition to remote work with little notice, these seasoned tech executives came away with strong thoughts about the types of tools and practices that will play key roles in business as the world emerges from the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Video sessions
David Baker, CIO at Pacific Dental Services, a dental support organization that provides business and administrative services for more than 850 owner-operated dental practices, sees video conferencing as a permanent fixture in the new corporate culture.

“It’s definitely the next-best thing, next to being there in person,” he says. “I think it helps build culture. There’s nothing like that face-to-face interaction.”

Communication apps
Steven Xenos, CIO at PM Pediatrics, the nation’s largest pediatric urgent-care provider, notes that because his organization has such a distributed workforce around the country, he experienced firsthand how important it is that everyone has an app they can use to communicate from anywhere using their business identity.

“We can easily find people, instead of having to maintain cell phone lists and home-number lists,” Steven explains.

Steven believes this anywhere communication will also help maintain team cohesion and productivity. “When a corporate location goes home, everyone loses that high touch. People are used to dropping by and chatting for a few minutes. Being able to spin up a video session or a quick chat is huge in keeping that corporate continuity together.”

Changing tech-investment focus
Both David and Steven believe the lockdowns will also speed up the migrations in communication technologies businesses across many industries—but particularly in healthcare—were already undergoing or at least considering.

“We’re going to embrace more agile development cycles,” David says. “Speed to market and embracing innovation will be important.” He believes a major priority of enterprises going forward will be removing friction points created by legacy tools and processes. “Patients don’t want to pick up pens anymore. So it’s going to be about continually streamlining to create a more seamless experience for patients and staff.” He notes that in healthcare, this will mean patients spend more time with their caregiver, and less time filling out forms.

Steven sees omnichannel digital communication becoming a priority for businesses going forward. “This generation doesn’t want to pick up the phone,” he says. “They want chat and other ways of getting information and interacting. I think omnichannel is going to be huge in the future.”

How to improve the patient experience?
For healthcare, the lockdowns accelerated the industry’s move to digital, cloud, and other modern technologies. But as our healthcare CIO panelists explained, these moves were aligned with the direction that providers were already heading—albeit relatively slowly—to improve the patient experience. They had several ideas about where things are heading.

Communicating on patients’ terms
David said he sees the trend continuing toward digitally enabling all aspects of the medical practice, including communications: “It’s patients being able to communicate on their terms, on the channel of their choice, and when they want to, 24/7 essentially.”

Streamlining patient support, scheduling, and care
As David notes, a key benefit of the move to digital communication channels for any healthcare provider is to improve every patient encounter—both for the patient and the company’s staff. In practical terms, he explains, that includes “taking out all of the laborious, manual steps” in every patient encounter, so the practice’s front-office staff don’t need to ask, “What’s your name? What’s your date of birth?” on every call.

Leveraging telemedicine
As Steven says, “Telemedicine and urgent care were made for each other. We can do most of what we need to over a telemedicine session with a camera.” The massive adoption of the telehealth solution PM Pediatrics offered during the pandemic—they handled nearly 200,000 telehealth appointments in the first few months—convinced Steven that this technology will play a major role in medicine going forward. “There’s a huge need for telehealth in this country, and I think we’re just in the beginning of it.”

It was a fascinating and insight-packed conversation, and you can view it here or watch below.