The Record - Issue 18: Autumn 2020

166 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om E very week, the Sri Lanka Tea Board and Ceylon Tea Traders Association host the Colombo Tea Auction, welcoming hundreds of buyers and sellers of tea. However, the Covid- 19 pandemic forced the organisations to close the auction house doors in late March, putting the jobs of almost two million people who are involved in growing, producing and exporting tea in Sri Lanka at risk. To ensure the country’s multi- million-dollar tea industry continues to thrive, the Sri Lanka Tea Board worked with Cicra Solutions to quickly develop and deploy a virtual auction solution where all buying and selling is conducted securely via the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Sri Lanka Tea Board is just one of many organ- isations that has harnessed the power of tech- nology to transform the way its employees work during the Covid-19 pandemic. “One of the most striking transformations we have seen taking place with both front-line and back-of-house retail workers has been the rapid adoption of technology as a means to stay safe and secure while staying open for business,” says Abid Chaudhry, cross-industry and devices product marketing manager for Microsoft 365 at Microsoft. “Retailers have changed how their businesses work, reinventing various routine processes that were previously to be carried out on paper or in person. This includes everything from digitising their employees’ clock-in/clock- out procedures to engaging with their customers via the web or mobile apps, and implementing digital tools to aid the management of stores.” For example, when mobile and wireless com- munications provider T-Mobile was forced to temporarily shut around 80 per cent of its US stores in March, it used Microsoft Power Apps to develop a mobile app to manage staff rosters in real time. Employees submit their availability for shifts via the app, which then uses Power BI Microsoft’s Abid Chaudhry explains how technologies like Microsoft Azure, Teams and Dynamics 365 are enabling retailers to operate safely and serve customers effectively during the Covid-19 pandemic BY R E B E CCA G I B SON F E ATUR E Empowering retail the workforce Services like home delivery have become increasingly popular with customers