As the second most densely populated state in the nation, Rhode Island faces an unprecedented health crisis. Nestled between New York City and Boston (two hotbeds for positive COVID cases), the people of Rhode Island were struck by the COVID-19 pandemic. They needed a plan—fast.
What Governor Gina Raimondo faced within her civic duties to the people of Rhode Island is similar to what many of today’s business leaders face. They need reliable, well-executed solutions to keep their workforce employed and safe, their doors open for business, and their customers happy. It’s not rocket science, but it does require a fresh look at the current economic climate and determining what formula will be successful.
Governor Raimondo broke it down into three basic steps. “The core of what we did was based on innovation, a focus on the facts, and practical, concrete solutions,” she said. Let’s discuss these points to explore ways a three-step plan can move your business forward amid times of uncertainty.
1. Identify the problem.
That is why innovation exists: to offer a solution to a problem. Although corporations share the same circumstances due to the pandemic, each faces a unique opportunity to grow amid the challenges. When you get to the root of what you hope to accomplish and what stands in your way, you’ve found a promising starting point for change.
“The coronavirus pandemic has exposed numerous weak spots in how the government, businesses, and citizens prepare for and respond to such events,” explained business expert Adeo Ressi. “But these weak spots are opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate solutions. . . That includes things like artificial intelligence spread modeling, symptom-tracking solutions, chatbots for diagnoses, and people-tracking with nearby infection notification.”
For Rhode Island, the problem was finding ways to control a virus from overwhelming their healthcare systems and halting the local economy. For your organization, it may be finding ways to bring a remote workforce back to the office to comply with current CDC guidelines. Or finding a new way to connect with valued customers, who have experienced their own transformation. Getting to the base of your current challenges will help determine how to move forward and what type of support you’ll need.
2. Find a source of expertise with solutions.
Should you rely on in-house staff or consider outsourcing tasks? Will it be expensive? Will they do what we want? Will we become too dependant on an outside source for our essential duties?
There are a host of questions surrounding the decision to outsource or keep tasks in-house. Despite those concerns, more than half (68 percent) of large U.S. consumer products companies are outsourcing an area of their workforce. And when you need to move quickly and have a job done right the first time, reaching out for expertise to fill those knowledge gaps is a strategic move.
Governor Raimondo knew she needed a way not only to collect data but also to analyze, record, and define it in ways that measure the current health state of residents. Raimondo relied heavily on public and private partnerships. “One of the first partnerships I had was with Salesforce to do our contact tracing,” she explained. “Their software was fantastic to do that. We partnered with CVS health to do testing, which has been a huge success.”
They also partnered with Survey Monkey to give them data to keep them ahead of it. “We partnered with Infosys to help us do an app, a CRUSH COVID RI app for every Rhode Islander to download,” Raimondo added. Moving toward new, disruptive strategies has made all of the difference in implementing a quick, responsive, and accurate process for Raimondo and her team.
3. Incorporate innovation.
Innovation is the reason Rhode Island is in such a strategic position. “Our partnership with Marc Benioff and his team at Salesforce has been a game-changer for us,” said Raimondo. “We have all of our labs entering their information immediately into the Salesforce-powered system, and a 100+ member team works full-time on contact tracing.”
Raimondo’s team defines outbreaks as any facility with two or more people who have tested positive that are linked. When alerted, the response team conducts rapid testing, engages isolation, and contact tracing.
The Infosys-developed, Salesforce-based app called CRUSH COVID RI also houses collected data. Endorsed by Rhode Island’s Department of Health, CRUSH COVID RI is a response app that gives residents easy access to real-time public health resources and includes features like a location and symptom diary.
“All Rhode Islanders are encouraged to use the CRUSH COVID RI app and take an active role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Rhode Island,” said The State of Rhode Island Department of Health. “You can make a difference in the health of your loved ones and your community by helping us track the virus in our state.”
Along with other states, the battle to control the spread of COVID-19 continues. But what sets Rhode Island apart from other states is their commitment to embracing innovation to execute their plan. By identifying the base of their concerns and determining their focus, they knew what support they needed and welcomed new ideas on moving forward. That approach is making a big impact on the overall health and economic future of Rhode Island. “Be practical,” said Raimondo, when it comes to approaching new challenges. “Then, innovate.”