The only thing good about 2020 is it's coming to an end. Right? Actually, taken in perspective, it could also be considered the year of opportunities.
This year, the death care industry was completely consumed with navigating the new normal brought on by the pandemic. In addition to dealing with caring for the dead, there were new protocols to learn and implement. And yes, there was fear and uncertainty. But, as always, funeral directors were up for the challenges. For an industry that is thousands of years old, the pandemic was really one of the first times it faced major disruption, perhaps even more so than during the 1918 pandemic and through two World Wars.
In likely every industry, COVID shifted the status quo. And funeral directors, some of whom may have been too rooted in the past or comfortable with the "way things were always done," were charged with finding new ways of conducting business.
But there was no room for slow adopters. And no longer was there any "business as usual."
It's been said that necessity is the mother of invention. So, too, it's true that adversity is the catalyst for change, and the death care industry has risen to the challenge.
Consider that funeral directors are often the first responders when a death occurs. Essential. Heroic. Dealing with volumes they never before had seen.
Amid long hours, never-ending weekends, and lots of uncertainty, funeral directors put in their time armed with new safety protocols and an extra dose of compassion. Thankfully, what they've learned through COVID, they can now take forward into the future—and meeting the needs of constantly evolving customers.
While keeping up with deaths was the first order of business during the pandemic, funeral directors were forced to refine their processes, streamline workflows and offer remote transactions and services. In short—they learned to work, more exclusively in some cases, in the digital space.
Some protocols and regulations prohibited large gatherings, creating a change in the way funeral directors interacted with each other and families. That meant shifting to private services or remote viewings and memorials.
And while that technology was already available, not every funeral director was using or offering it. COVID became the driver for that change, opening up the opportunity—ready or not! —to use that technology. Hopefully, funeral directors are now more comfortable in the digital space.
It was only a matter of time, really. Norms have changed. Today's contemporary consumers are seeking new, fresh ways to connect.
They're not as tied to cultural or religious traditions. They're a mobile generation. They expect products and services to be delivered in a different way. These changes in both the customer and their demands will drive the future of the digital age for the industry.
In a year where funeral directors may have used any extra time looking for new products and services or building new facilities, they had to figure out how to do things—quickly and as seamlessly as possible—in a remote way.
And online business-to-business marketplaces, like byondcloud, are stepping in to ease the transition, making workflows and connections even easier.
Even governments are taking a lead. For example, in the United Kingdom, in response to COVID-19, The Deceased Management Advisory Group (DMAG) recommended using a central portal for meeting increased demands for cremation services. OpusXenta's cloud-based byondcloud platform was recognized as a solution to address this heightened need. The centralized portal streamlines how funeral directors can make bookings and gives them the ability to make crematoria and cemetery bookings directly—online.
Some funeral directors will look back at 2020 and wish it good riddance. But for those innovative organizations that have been prepared for and willing to change, there is only one way—that is to go forward. There will still be a distinct desire to go back, to return to "That's the way we've always done it."
Famous last words. Don't let them be yours.
Looking forward to 2021 is all we can do now, but before the New Year's ball drops, know that we send a heartfelt thank you to all of you this year. Our profession is one of compassion, empathy and relationships, and that's been even more important than ever this year.
You've had to face insurmountable grief, fear and a climbing death toll and still continued to serve families, often with little recognition or support. So to our essential heroes in the death care industry, bringing a bit of peace to families in need, we salute you. Our resolution is for continued strength and resilience in 2021.
With a background in accounting, Tony built an interest in technology in the early days of the personal computer ("PC") coming to the market. He quickly built solid experience by providing the clients of the audit practice with the services they needed to properly understand what they could do with a PC and what the benefits could be for their business.
At the risk of developing the perfect "nerd" storm of both accounting and technology experience, Tony soon grew a strong customer base that relied on his expertise to succeed in their use of technology.
With this background, he has built a track record of success in creating and sustaining highly regarded world-leading business software firms in highly competitive global environments.