Before the pandemic, the main reason for digital transformation as part of the strategic planning was competition, a new player creating disruption, the fear of falling behind or not capturing margin-improving efficiencies.
Today, the world is on crisis management mode: millions of businesses are struggling to survive, some will be dissolved, and a minority will quickly pivot into a new growth trajectory. A structural shift has emerged: the highly discretionary digital investments of the pre-COVID19 days are now deemed essential survival and/or growth investments.
Now more than ever, businesses should be intentional around strategic planning, re-affirming and stress-testing their “growth bets” and reallocating human and monetary capital as needed. The degree of investment (and pace) in technology should rise to the top, as evolving customer and employee behaviors and the need for organizational agility makes a business digital strategy critically important to win in the marketplace.
Is not a coincidence that organizations that were more digitally mature before COVID-19 reacted and adapted to crisis better than those with a lower degree of digital maturity. Their business models and processes meant that they were able to shift more rapidly or accelerate changes already in the works. The businesses that lacked a robust digital backbone or online presence have struggled, as have those exposed to traditional bricks and mortar models such as retail, transportation, education, and entertainment sectors.
Meanwhile, software companies providing collaboration tools, software-as-a-service and cloud capacity are seeing record demand levels and rapidly meeting changing customer needs. According to a recent BCG article, building business resilience comes in three phases: Respond, Recover, and Reimagine. After ensuring employees safety, business leaders have to drive the organization forward and focus on the Recover/Reimagine stages. Some emerging trends include:
1. Organizing your Team: Technology should be used for human-centered enhancement
“Resilience begins and ends with people; A robust organization needs to have a culture that makes resilience part of its DNA so that it is embedded in the way things are done. Resilience must be valued, and goals, objectives, metrics and incentives must be aligned to demonstrate support for that value.”
Technology can support prioritizing the wellbeing of staff and customers and its often at the center of the business continuity plan. Now more than ever business and governments have a paramount role to play in protecting people’s health, bolstering the economy, and developing both practical solutions centered around innovation and digital transformation.
Also, the new normal comes with “Touchless Connecting”, both at the center of your client experience as well as your business development efforts.
In the traditional model, sales teams relied heavily on regular personal interaction. The new normal has forced businesses to rethink the way they connect with clients prospects and colleagues alike. Business travel, conventions, conferences, trade shows are all expected to a sharp decline in demand and the alternative has emerged : high performing companies will be investing in technology and infrastructure to support remote work and virtual collaboration capabilities.
Some ideas to think about:
- Consider reallocating your travel budget into high-resolution video conferencing tools, account-based marketing or virtual demonstrations.
- Communicate frequently (virtually) with employees to raise awareness, inform policies.
- Confirm employees have the capabilities to perform critical tasks remotely, including access to broadband, share drives, documents and other critical tools.
- Conduct conduct pandemic readiness tests to ensure organizational preparedness.
2. Your Clients: communicate and engage with them in differentiated manner
“resilient organizations as those that in the face of a crisis or economic slowdown…ride out uncertainty instead of being overpowered by it.”
-McKinsey & Co
The pandemic has introduced cultural and behavioral shifts. Customer priorities and touch points are changing rapidly. Beyond survival, businesses need to try and look beyond the immediate business continuity or liquidity issues caused by the pandemic. As lockdowns are being lifted by governments, we should all be thinking about what the future may look like. What lessons should we take from this pandemic to prepare for the post-pandemic “new normal”? How can we lead our organizations to thrive in a post-crisis world? The answers are often found in truly understanding’s the evolving needs of your clients. Businesses must continue to communicate with customers through multiple channels, reinforce that customer interests are a priority and provide information to alleviate their concerns. For companies that have both retail and corporate customers, consistent messaging is key. All channels must reconcile (e.g., social media, customer call centers, public relations releases). Part of evolving to digital maturity is breaking silos, information must flow with the ultimate goal of preserving and improving user experience.
Most likely businesses will need to find new and innovative ways to nurture long-distance client relationships. Many medium and small businesses realized too late they didn’t have a database of clients, not even an email or phone numbers list. Implementing a CRM system or a loyalty program, for example, should leverage not just social media but digital marketing strategies in general which would provide data-driven insights critical to both the customer acquisition process and the build-out of digital capabilities.
3. Assess/Optimize your Supply Chain
Business should objectively asses their reliance on third parties. How do you prepare your company for supply chain disruption? If your suppliers are still operating, how are you adopting to new protocols? Even your digital suppliers are at greater risk as global cyber-security threats become the norm.
The crisis has sparked a major social, economic and technological transformation that is playing out before our eyes. We won’t revert back to our old normal once the crisis has passed and how business is conducted “tomorrow” is certain to be very different . Now more essential than ever the businesses are intentional about developing / updating their strategic plans.
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