What did life look like in 2020? That, of course, depends which part of the year you look at.

Our 2020 workplace was based in an office space or at home. Classroom learning occurred in person or in video calls. Basic financial management involved face-to-face visits with a teller or online banking.

With more than 150 million Americans now fully vaccinated and many COVID-19 restrictions lifting, a new normal is emerging. No one is turning back the clock to early 2020 — not entirely. Our society has fundamentally changed, creating more options for how business can be conducted.

The path forward won’t be forged from “or” thinking. The “And Era” is here.

I first learned the application of “and” as a business concept when undergoing leadership training early in my career. Sally Jackson at JS-International taught that when there are two competing ideas, decision makers tend to select option A or option B. She encouraged choosing both A and B, the combination creating a world of possibilities. I’ve made great effort throughout my career to embrace “and” thinking.

This ingrained lesson is ever applicable and timely today, as I step into a new role at Samsung as head of Mobile B2B. I’ve worked at Samsung since 2016, and I’m excited to begin this chapter. My goal is to continue this business unit’s strong legacy of leadership, bring fresh perspective and help Mobile B2B pivot from “or” to “and.”

‘And’ now

What will that look like for Samsung? Like many businesses, we’re still figuring it out. But fundamentally, it will mean embracing new ways — and multiple ways — of doing business. It will mean preserving the preferred aspects of the virtual world, which are surprisingly productive, while rediscovering the value and simple joys of in-person interactions.

For example, before the pandemic, I encouraged our sales team to be on the road, in front of customers. I understood how in-person meetings were valuable to cultivate personal connections. Now, like many business leaders, I see the power of remote interactions, too — the flexibility and convenience they provide for customers and employees alike.

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Why force a decision between one or the other? Today, I encourage my teams to get on the road and online.

When we recently launched a program to deliver 740,000 Galaxy XCover Pro devices to in-store associates at Walmart, we experienced firsthand an occasion where “or” would have been insufficient. “And” was the answer.

Walmart ran pilot programs in their stores to confirm that our solution would help their associates better serve customers and improve the associate experience. We had our team there in person, which allowed us to solve their high-touch problems.

But once the program launched, shifting to a virtual model allowed us to be available around the clock to answer their questions and support day-to-day management. We realized that an in-person and virtual support plan enabled us to deliver more value and greater success to customers at scale.

Changing for the better

When reflecting on what we learned from doing business in the early days of COVID-19, it’s not that being physically present was inessential. It’s that, now, we need both in-person and virtual solutions to be truly successful.

Along those lines, I think the virtual work environment has helped me better serve my employees and my customers. While remote, I can seamlessly jump from a customer meeting to an employee’s annual review and back again with mere clicks of a button.

In contrast, before the pandemic, I spent much of my life on airplanes. And while I loved it, it inhibited my ability to be present every day for both employees and customers. I found myself either on site with customers or at the office with employees. Now, I’m confident I can effectively stay connected to both, however possible.

Virtual work has also provided some personal benefits. I am spending more time with my family, virtually and in person. In the same day, I am able to meet one of my daughters for dinner in New York and a few hours later see my other daughter, who lives in Melbourne, over a BlueJeans call.

Versatile solutions

The pivot away from “or” creates opportunities to reimagine what “work smarter, not harder” looks like in the And Era of business.

But embracing virtual and in-person approaches places pressure on industries to be good at what they do in a variety of ways — remote learning and in-classroom learning, digital banking and in-person wealth advisors. Neither approach can be neglected. For example:

  • In education, how do we help students and teachers readapt to the physical classroom, close learning gaps and effectively incorporate tech into the learning process long term?
  • In finance and business, how do we deploy technology across a mobile-starved workforce while ensuring that same technology empowers better in-person service, too?

Throughout the remainder of 2021, we at Mobile B2B will continue digging into these questions, providing perspective and ideas on how to tackle them via fresh, exciting content and research that will be available here on Insights. You’ll continue to hear from me, as well as from many of our Mobile B2B team members, customers and partners.

Be sure to continue visiting Insights for more content. And if you’re on LinkedIn, let’s connect. Feel free to drop me a message via InMail — I’d love to hear your insights and experiences in navigating the And Era.

In many respects, a new chapter is beginning. I’m eager for us to navigate it together, discovering what’s possible when minds and methods convene to reimagine what business in the 21st century can and should look like. I firmly believe this process will help us push forward as leaders in the Future State of Business while meeting our organizational goals.

And then some.

Find out more about how Samsung’s innovative mobile solutions can help your team work effectively and stay connected — from near or far. Or, get more expert insights on 2020’s unprecedented changes in business, healthcare, education and leadership with this free guide from our Future State of Business series.

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John Curtis

John Curtis is Vice President and General Manager of Samsung Electronic America’s B2B Mobile division, overseeing product, business management, sales and customer success for Samsung’s full range of mobile hardware, software and solutions. With over 20 years of experience in the mobile industry, including leadership roles at Vodafone, John is passionate about helping enterprises leverage technology to enhance business operations and the customer experience, and is a regular speaker on emerging tech trends at industry events. LinkedIn

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