Leaving lockdown: an interview with Guy Cuthbert of Atheon Analytics
Published 13th October 2020
We spoke to five IT companies to find out how the COVID-19 lockdown has impacted their business, including their experiences of the shift to remote working – and back again – and their expectations for the future.
In this blog we hear from Guy Cuthbert, founder, CEO and CTO of Atheon Analytics which provides advanced data analytics services to the grocery sector.
When the COVID-19 outbreak hit, what changed for your business?
“There wasn’t a great deal of disruption; most of us worked from home one day a week already, so we were well placed to transition to remote working without missing a beat. Our team had a ‘work anywhere’ mentality which we’d introduced to accommodate a healthy work-life balance. We moved from desktops to laptops three years ago, and have been cloud-based for six years with no IT kit in the office.
Regular stand-up ‘state of the union’ meetings were a part of our company culture, but some team members dialled into these remotely anyway, so we simply moved the meetings online.
Cybersecurity wasn’t an issue, despite the increased risk of everyone working away from the office. We had the appropriate measures and protocols in place to work safely, and levels of security awareness, accountability and personal responsibility were high within the team. When it came to serving customers, our support and training was already delivered online so nothing really changed tech-wise there, either.”
What were the biggest challenges?
“Lockdown was a super busy time for us. Our customers supply big supermarkets, and the changes in people’s shopping habits led to heavier trading and added complexity. They needed us to step up and provide the data that would help them make sense of what was going on in the supply chain.
We answered a lot of individual queries, and we also quickly created a new solution that gave our clients rapid visibility into exactly where their products were, and how they were selling. This enabled them to make decisions about which lines to manufacture to ensure shelves remained stocked, communicate with retailers, and finely tune distribution channels. We were able to quickly boost the capacity of our cloud services to support our increased needs.”
What would you say were your key learnings?
“The way we interact with customers has changed for good. Online selling is now the preferred approach; we’ve successfully prospected, pitched for and won business this way. We’ll keep doing more early stage sales work remotely – the days of going to customer sites for a speculative sales chat are gone.
The different way of working during lockdown has also influenced the way we recruit: we can now look at hiring team members who are based further afield.”
What does the return to ‘normal’ work look like for your teams?
“Lockdown has made us question why we do things a certain way. We’re definitely questioning how much office space we really need, for example, and whether we need as many physical meetings. A strong company culture is important, but we might move to holding social events as a way of reinforcing this rather than formal get-togethers.”
How has the experience influenced your customer strategy?
“We expect things to keep changing – but few things ever sit still very long in tech, and we’re used to having to be agile, innovative and resilient. We’re having lots of ongoing dialogue with our customers, so we’re in a good place if and when their needs change again. This enables us to be really customer-centric.”
Download the whitepaper Leaving Lockdown: A Major Reset Moment for IT