The ongoing pandemic has had a devastating effect on many businesses big and small. Many have not made it to the other side and others are hanging on by a thread. Every one of them has had to pivot and make changes in their operations and business model as a whole. However, as the vaccine has been released and a slight glimmer of hope has come about for a future post-COVID-19.
Businesses will face their toughest challenge yet: bringing their businesses back amidst an already struggling economy. Leaders will have to create and implement the next normal with resilience, resolve, reimagination, and reform. Specifics will differ depending on the company, the sector, and what parts of the world the business is located in. That being said, these characteristics hold true across sectors. In addition, there are certain strategic areas businesses need to focus on. For example, rebuilding operations, recovering revenue, rethinking their organization and accelerating the adoption of digital solutions.
The pandemic has dramatically changed the demand and thus the supply for different products and services across all sectors. This shift has exposed weak points in supply chains and service networks, forcing companies to pivot and adapt. Companies have created new levels of visibility, productivity, agility, and customer connectivity. Pivoting and adopting these new changes is only half of the battle, however. As time crawls on, the question then becomes, how will companies maintain their performance?
If not already implemented, companies will have to redesign their supply chains and operations to protect themselves. They will have to rebalance their supplier mix and global asset base as new technologies and changing demand has changed supply chain location. This changing of the location of supply chains is most likely going to accelerate the adoption of other practices such as increased use of external suppliers to aid in internal operations, dual/triple sourcing, and greater cross-training in the workplace.
Reinventing operations is most likely going to be expensive because of the time and resources the reinvention requires. However, operations that are low-cost and highly flexible are possible as they are already happening. Companies were digitizing their operations even before the pandemic. If they continue to digitize everything at a fast pace, they will succeed as periodicity, flexibility, and quality will increase.
The reinvention of operations will need to create new value and greater relationships with customers in order to gain an edge going forward. Companies will have to learn how to accelerate their product development, customer experience, customization, sustainability, and ecosystem management.
Impact of Technology
Technology is also increasing cost transparency as procurement-spend analysis and clean-sheeting are adapted. Other practices such as end-to-end inventory rebalancing, capital-spend diagnostics, and portfolio rationalization will also increase transparency and decrease costs. Companies that haven’t already done so should look to turn more of their fixed costs into variable costs by using “as a service” models.
The pandemic has required everyone how to learn to complete tasks and work remotely by using digital communication tools. There will be an increased decline in manual tasks and an increase in the demand for technical and analytical support. This will increase investment in workforce training.
The rate at which a company will recover its revenue will determine if it will succeed going forward. They will have to rethink their revenue profile and position themselves in a way that they have an edge over their competitors.
Companies need to identify where their main sources of revenue are coming from and make hard decisions regarding cutting back, restructuring, or expanding. There will also need to be a continued focus on health and safety, continued support of remote selling, flexible payment options, and automating processes to free up sales representatives.
The speed at which campaigns are launched and decisions are made will have to increase as well. Lack of efficiency is what kills revenue most of the time and can be fixed by solutions such as internal changes within the company. Remote teams will have to have more authority when it comes to decision-making and problems will have to be solved more quickly over a video call.
What leaders need to keep an eye on
Companies have to take action more than the research and testing processes more than they analyze. There should be an air of agility and accountability among your team by implementing things such as check-ins and reviews.
Companies will have to analyze how their employees work best. Some people in the company could be more productive working remotely going forwards. Expanding digital channels goes along with this as companies have and will need to continue to advance analytics in order to make faster and better decisions.
Leaders will also need to reevaluate what their customer values and how this might have changed because of the pandemic. They should tailor the customer experience to fit this. Companies will have to be able to adapt and change the ecosystem by reexamining their supply chain partnerships.
Rethink your organization
Due to the pandemic, companies had to work in new ways almost instantly. Most of this came from changes in their operating models as focused teams, goals, and rapid decision making are now the norm. Leaders of a company will have to reexamine their mission and what the company represents. If employees share a common sense of purpose and workplace culture, tasks will be completed more efficiently and the result will be better.
Companies have learned that team work and decisions that are made out of this are more effective than decisions made by an authority figure(s). They will gain a competitive edge if they learn how to decentralize their operations and utilize the right talent when faced with challenges. Simplifying and streamlining organizational structures will also cut down on costs and new leaders will emerge. In order to attract capital such as talent, companies will have to cultivate an environment where people want to work.
Insight generation will also need to increase as technology has and will continue to change how companies relate to their customers. These insights will help to make connections between goods and services and increase growth and adaptation.
Increase digitalization and re-imagination
The past year has changed how we go about life. It has changed how we interact with people, how we work, how we spend our time, etc. The integration of digital technology into our lives has only increased across every sector. Technology has played a role in how we all operate during the pandemic, and it will continue to play a vital role in how we all operate post-COVID-19.
Consumer behavior and demand and how the economy works differ from place to place. Depending on the individual and the culture, various activities such as going to a restaurant will occur before they get on a plane or go to a large event. Supply chains will need to be ready in order to navigate the economic recovery successfully. Leaders will need to have a plan and agenda months into the future, yet will need to be able to adapt because of unforeseen circumstances/events.
Companies will need to rethink their customers and how technology can help with solutions. This differs between parts of the economy. For instance, many retailers have had to create an easy-to-use e-commerce experience that lets a customer do everything online. For travel such as airlines, these companies have and will need to continue to ensure health and safety with “contactless” check-in, boarding, and experiences in-flight.
Similarly, companies will need to include new data and models into their decision-making. The use of data and analytics will become more important than ever as companies will need to examine demand forecasting, asset management, and new volumes. They will need to improve their IT productivity and make them variable wherever they can to lower their costs. Companies will need to examine nonessential costs related to projects and establish the roles needed to sustain an IT-product platform. Companies will also need to adopt the cloud and automate technology at a faster rate.
Going back to how one operated before the pandemic is not an option. The world has changed far too much to go back to operating as one did. Instead, companies will need to rethink how they operate, organize, utilize technology, return to work, and set the foundations for recovery in order to succeed going into the future.