- Strategy Advisory,
- Target Operating Model,
- Technology Strategy
– 07 May, 2020
How Can Business Thrive In A Post COVID-19 World?
Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, there is no doubt that the level of uncertainty is still extremely high among businesses. What is certain however, is that the effects of the pandemic will be felt for many years to come and that the post-COVID-19 world will be different.
When considering the implications of this crisis, the following words from BP’s CEO, Bernard Looney, sound like a stark warning: “Hope is not a strategy”. Hope that sometime soon the market will revert to pre-COVID-19 conditions, that consumer habits and expectations will not be altered or that similar crises may not surface again in the future. Action is required now, action supported by clear and in-depth analysis to create stability and opportunities for growth in the medium and long term.
It could be argued that the world has previously witnessed unforeseen economic disruptions that caused some companies to go out of business and others to thrive, what makes the COVID-19 crisis unique is the combination of extreme factors:
- Scale – it forced changes both inside and outside of organisations deeply impacting the status quo in terms of productivity, offer and market demand and its people.
- Speed – events evolved so quickly that even those countries that tried to march on with business as usual had to make swift U-turns. This brought an element of shock and disorientation and often panic.
- Reach – there is no ground zero; no business or country can consider itself outside of the impact from the crisis
For many organisations the immediate response to the COVID-19 was to hunker down, safeguard cash flow and cut costs wherever possible, however businesses that want to not only survive but to thrive need to adopt an alternative mindset one of evolving. The following lists the main impacts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic that will have to be decoded to articulate specific implications for each organisation relative to their strategy and relationships with customers, workforce and suppliers.
- Deeply different market fundamentals: Business leaders need to respond by adapting to this new scenario resisting the impulse to keep a short-term focus and give priority to salvaging what is already in place. Their attention should be on evolving their longer term strategy, adapting to new conditions, building on the lessons learnt from working practices put in place during the lockdown. These need to be combined with careful consideration of the implications for the supply chain, the entire globalisation model may be questioned and need to be re-evaluated.
- Accelerated path to digital transformation: COVID 19 pushed the digital transformation agenda on top of the priority list of many organisations. Thriving companies are revising their business strategy and architecture, ensuring that they have the right mix of IT, architecture, capabilities and digital tools to be able to leverage the value in the data. As with any digital transformation, the focus should not just be given to the technology, the people side of the equation is just as important. People centric digital transformation will allow the company to achieve their objectives, through adopting the right company culture for business leaders, team members and consumers.
- Uncertain future state mapping: Transition through the phases post-lockdown will be slow and volatile. Businesses need to map scenarios, breaking down their ramifications and devising response strategies. Boards need to embrace this uncertainty and embed the right level of agility in their organisations and processes to be able to respond quickly to evolving market landscapes. Businesses that succeed will be those that define and maintain an iterative approach, developing a portfolio of initiatives to transition from current to a range of end states covering all eventualities.
- Workplace Transformation: In the pre-COVID-19 world, remote working was synonymous with flexibility, what we are going through today is the opposite of flexible working. There is no option of transitioning between working from home or from the office. Data gathered to date demonstrates that this lack of flexibility takes its toll on people’s productivity not right away but after a few weeks. It is for this reason that companies need to put greater focus on their staff mental health wellbeing. It is predicted that remote working will become more commonplace once lockdowns are loosened. This will impact many business practices, including recruitment plans, IT operations, real estate, and workplace modernisation plans.
As much as business plans may have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, following the initial fight or flight response, it is now time to refocus, to look ahead with caution and openness to the opportunities to be realised in tomorrow’s “new normal”. Business leaders should act quickly by making time to put in place well-articulated change programmes.
There are certainly lessons to be learnt from those that made unplanned tactical digital transformations in response to the lockdown. So now it is time to understand how to make the benefits stick and implement a wider, more structured approach to digital transformation. Organisations that give due consideration to the challenges outlined are the ones that will be more likely to survive and thrive in the post-COVID-19 “new normal”.
Michele Turitto PhD CEng
“Digital transformation success impinges on people, culture and mindset as much as technology”
Michele is a versatile and experienced management consultant delivering pragmatic and data driven digital business transformation. Geographically and culturally aware, having led projects in over 15 countries with proven ability to engage at all levels to embed step-change innovation. He has a deep advisory and consulting background centred on a solid Change Management, Strategy, Delivery Lead and Programme Management skill set.