5 Questions with... Tony Lorge
1. How did you start providing solutions for the death care industry?
It all really came about by chance. I have been involved in providing business software solutions for many years across many sectors across the globe, and out of the blue, we got a call from a cemetery in Melbourne, Australia, seeking help with their systems. Well, that got the ball rolling, and while we were building and deploying the solution, we were surprised to find that there weren't any complete solutions that covered all the areas needed for the death care industry. We also realized that the problems we were solving were not unique to this cemetery alone. We had the expertise to build a solution that would address the needs of funeral homes, cemeteries, and crematoria. So, that was how OpusXenta was born, and we are now a leading technology provider in this sector.
2. As a technology provider, what changes do you see on the horizon?
We've all seen the rapid changes that technology brings to our daily lives. We are living in an "always-on" world, where technology provides immediate answers.
Consumers are used to making travel arrangements and buying big-ticket items like cars, tools, and appliances online. People are becoming comfortable visiting their doctors virtually through telemedicine. It's only natural that they would turn to technology to arrange funerals and burials.
With consumers increasingly moving their transactions online, death care businesses need to adapt to meet this changing consumer. Funeral homes, crematoria, and cemeteries need to meet consumers where they go, which is online.
3. How has COVID-19 affected the death care industry?
When the pandemic first hit, everyone was forced to change how they delivered goods and services, funeral homes, crematoria, and cemeteries included. COVID-19 increased the demand for services while also limiting in-person gatherings. While many were already adopting new business-management technologies, they suddenly faced tremendous pressure to go beyond their traditional way of doing business to offering services online. The pandemic accelerated their digital transformations.
Online solutions are no longer "nice to have" but "must-have" solutions for the sector to keep on top of the demand. If one thing is for certain after the trials of 2020, it is that business will not go back to the way it was before the pandemic.
4. How is OpusXenta addressing industry changes?
The way I see it, despite all of the challenges coming our way in the death care industry—there is great opportunity. Let's look at what's impacting us today and certainly in the not-so-distant future. It's clear that funeral directors, crematoria, and cemetery operators will continue feeling pressured by consumer demands and market changes.
To help funeral homes, cemeteries, and crematoria respond to these changes, we've created byondcloud, the industry's first b2b online marketplace. With byondcloud, owners and operators can sign up for free and then expedite online bookings, use grounds and service management tools, track and manage suppliers, utilize tools for records and inventory, update documents, and manage projects in real-time. With a perfect storm of change hitting the death care industry—changing needs, trends, and audience—online marketplaces like byondcloud will be key to success.
We are also continually extending the digital capabilities of our byondpro operational solution to allow seamless integration between running the business operations, managing the financials, and being able to transact online.
5. What should death care providers know about starting their digital transformation?
Making a digital transformation is not a question of "if"; it is a matter of "when." My advice is to get started as soon as possible—there is no time like the present. While you may feel too busy, taking steps now will prepare you for the future.
Start by determining business goals and objectives. Think about how consumer expectations are changing and how you interact with the families you serve, then determine milestones you would like to reach. Ask yourself: "Can digital tools help me achieve these milestones faster while saving time and money?"
Take a look at the tools that are now available in our industry. And remember, you don't have to make sweeping changes all at once. It is okay to take a gradual, phased approach when undertaking your digital transformation.