2020 was a year noone could’ve predicted. E-shopping has been accelerated by years and a whole new segments of customers have been forced online.
Meanwhile, marketplaces have had to deal with new unpredictable moderation challenges as illustrated very poignantly by the spike on this google trends graph showing the past years search volumes for facemasks.
The entire world has had to get used to a market that was very volatile and extremely sensitive to any new development in the pandemic, good as well as bad.
Now however, at the end of 2020, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The vaccine is finally within reach and hopefully social distancing and face masks will soon be a curious terms in a bizarre chapter of our history books.
A return to “normality” will, however, not erase the incredible jump the world has done towards a fully digitized society.
What will the new world order mean for marketplaces going forward? What can eCommerce, sharing economy and online platforms in general expect from 2021?
We’ve asked 8 industry experts to give their trend prediction for the new year.
Behind every successful company is a team of hardworking tech people diligently keep the IT infrastructure safe, optimized and resilient towards unsuspected events. They are the unseen and sometimes unsung heroes of digital operations. At Besedo the head of that team is Kevin E. Ducón Pardey. We sat down with him to understand what it takes to ensure that we can deliver high quality services to our clients 24/7 all year long.
Interviewer: Could you introduce yourself?
Kevin: I’m just a guy who dreamt about doing what he loves and who worked and studied hard to achieve it. I’m Colombian, 34 years old, married with one kid and a dog. I hold an MSc in Computer Science from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid and a BSc in Computer Science from Universidad Ditrital de Bogotá and I have different certifications in IT Service management, IT security, and cloud computing. I have been working in ICT for more than fifteen years. I have been working at Besedo for almost seven years. I started as a local ICT Administrator in our Colombian branch office, then I was promoted to ICT Supervisor, and currently, I am the Global Head of ICT-IS, which means I’m in charge of all levels of ICT support. Together with my amazing team, we make sure that we fulfill our most important metrics, service-level agreements, and customer satisfaction.
I have applied my knowledge and skills to this ever-changing industry by creating policies and processes aligned with the industry’s best practices of IT service management. I’ve developed strategic and operational plans aligned with security guidelines for the ICT department to ensure that all necessary tools and processes are fully functional to achieve the company’s goals. Our commitment is to keep our mission-critical systems alive and running 24/7, to ensure that our moderation services are successfully delivered to our customers worldwide.
Interviewer: How does your team manage such a variety of clients ICT needs and set ups?
Kevin: We need to be aligned with the business guidelines to properly onboard the clients. So, with the help of Sales, Customer Success, and Service delivery teams, we are able to translate business and operational needs to ICT needs. It all starts with a cross-functional plan which is the key to understanding the whole process, IT requirements, and compliance aspects.
Once this plan is clear, from ICT we need to provide all necessary tools and fulfill all requirements. Our local ICT teams manage the local implementation according to the plan and they ensure that everything required is ready to go-live under the defined time-frames. They also to tackle any post-implementation issue immediately.
When you have a capable, knowledgeable, and committed team like I do, things are always easier.
Interviewer: How did you make the transition from office to home office so efficiently?
Kevin: We’ve actually had a remote workforce project running since 2017. We were quite early in identifying remote workforce as our future and as a necessity in order to explore new markets and cope with some specific requirements. Also, working at home boost the team’s morale and it is a benefit in countries where some have commutes as long as 2 hrs. COVID was a challenge for all ICT departments, but it also made our work visible. Talking with different colleagues, a pandemic situation likelihood was low, but the impact based on the government measures taken in each country was high, it’s what we refer to as a black swan. So, COVID gave a boost to the investment in the required resources. Also, it changed the business culture to focus on identifying areas and covering areas of vulnerability, we’re now even more resilient, we’re managing the internal resources more efficiently, and are taking a people-centric approach to IT security. As we we’re already working with cloud and virtualization, it was relatively painless to scale up. But I won’t lie, it was not easy. As we moved from 30% to 100% of the operation working from home, we had to boost some processes, provide resources, and try to tackle challenges fast, since we were operating under tight deadlines. However, we’ve made it. Of course, there were challenges at the beginning (as there always are when a new technology is implemented) in terms of support requests and provision of services but now, we are in a stable situation. The next challenge is to improve our delivery and make this more efficient. That’s an on-going process.
Interviewer: How do we manage disaster recovery in Besedo?
Kevin: It’s important to have proactive safety measures in place to guarantee that the moderation operation always is carried out correctly. A good first step is to plan the implementation of the moderation services before putting disaster mitigation plans in place. As I mentioned earlier, a good onboard process, but also, a fault-tolerant and highly available infrastructure is necessary.
For example, at Besedo offices, we work with different Internet service providers in case one fails to deliver correctly. We also work with fault-tolerant networks, a resilient infrastructure, third-party support, etc., to ensure that our IT operations remain stable when potential risks materialize. Also, we believe that remote workforce/work from home can support the delivery on-premises, and a mixed model (On-premises and remote) makes sense.
To complement proactive measures, we run IT checklists, backup routines and we have monitoring systems that allow us to prevent potential challenges during IT ops.
Interviewer: What is the next big ICT project you have planned in your team?
Kevin: We plan to go-live from a new office in Germany this year. We are preparing all that is required to have an operational center that is compliant with some specific guidelines and which are imperative to Besedo’s worldwide commitment to client satisfaction. Also, we are making exhaustive research in a Desktop as a service (DaaS) solution which can improve our current remote workforce delivery. That will be beneficial when we explore new markets and make it easier to scale up or down according to business demands.