A lot has happened across the globe since the onset of coronavirus pandemic, and these occurrences have changed the rules of the game for all businesses. Simply put, enterprises are slowly, but steadily progressing from rebooting their business strategy to renewing themselves in the “novel economy.” We’ve all changed the way we operate at this time of the coronavirus crisis. There’s been a reset of the workforce and of work itself, a reset of the business ecosystem, and a reset of the employer and employee relationship.
The truth? The pandemic may have wiped your strategy slate clean. It feels that way, right? But it’s time to use the lessons learned over these months to reset your business strategy and build resilience to sustain the “new normal.” As we revisit the journey from our first response to COVID-19 till today, i.e. the phase of renewal, we continue incorporating the lessons learned as part of our post-pandemic planning framework.
At this stage, instant actions should focus on keeping people safe and vital business functions operating. This relatively short period is marked by more efforts and possibly chaotic activity, like temporary fixes to stop the bleeding.
To illustrate, businesses began to shut down and employees were made to work-from-home and maintain physical distance as coronavirus hit, and cases began to skyrocket at the beginning of 2020. Technology played a crucial role at this time with workplace digitization becoming the order of the day. In the words of Gartner, “the Digital Workplace enables new, more effective ways of working; raises employee engagement and agility; and exploits consumer-oriented styles and technologies.” Critical to digital transformation, the digital workplace consists of all the technologies people use to get work done in the workplace of today. This workplace ranges from the core business and HR applications to instant messaging, virtual meetings, email, and enterprise social media tools.
Desktop and application virtualization led to doubling down end-user productivity, improving data security at the same time. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) technology simplified the work of IT administrators while mitigating overall computing costs. This year has also witnessed an increase in the use of virtual apps empowering remote workers to stay in touch and collaborate to conduct business. Not only did these apps ensure the transparent running of operations and higher productivity, but also led to clear communication among employees.
Besides, our IT teams worked hard towards strengthening infrastructure to alleviate good cybersecurity practices. It did and has become quite important to protect our crucial business data from any sort of malicious attack.
Though the majority of businesses responded in this manner, a few corporate directors began to reimagine the future of their organizations as soon as the coronavirus outbreak turned into the COVID-19 pandemic. It is possible to think about renewal as you cope with your triage response and recovery. This kind of agile decision making as well as strategy settings leads to outsized performance and enables you to maintain a lead over your competition, a lead that sustains long after the initial disruption.
This is the stage for the medium term. You need to make more coordinated efforts to stabilize operations. Key activities include creating a plan to restore a scalable state and recognizing capabilities you need to strengthen, refactor, reopen, rehire, rebudget, and resupply.
Remember recovery and renewal phases are intertwined. The ways organizations adopt to recover themselves are the same ones they should follow in their restoration or renewal phase.
For instance, three areas of focus that have helped plant leaders navigate the transition from the first response to the crisis to the next normal include protecting the workforce, managing risks to ensure business continuity, and driving productivity at a distance.
The most critical focus for every manufacturer and leaders in other industries is to keep employees safe in an environment where repeated outbreaks are an ever-lasting threat. Organizations have thus deployed a comprehensive set of policies and guidelines, including the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), enhanced hygiene measures, physical distancing, and changes to existing governance and behavior. These measures, developed in the first response to the coronavirus crisis, can be integrated into the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of an organization as it makes the move to next-normal operations.
Be it a manufacturing facility, a retail outlet, or a hospital, mitigating the potential future impact of infection required organizations to alter team structures and working methods to limit contact across the workforce. One way of doing that has been by establishing “pods” for all on-site personnel. Employee and workspace “pods” enable shop-floor physical distancing.
Facing higher levels of uncertainty over the medium term, plant leaders and retailers have found it useful to ramp up their scenario planning, with an accelerated pace of planning and a broader range of potential scenarios being a part of their analysis. Also, industries are using digital twins of their facilities to simulate operation under different production scenarios and staffing levels. New digital approaches have hastened the capability-building process and allowed employees to develop new skills remotely.
As businesses across industries are recovering from the current pandemic scenario leveraging technology (computer vision in AI and ML), focusing more on digitization, data, and personalization, building agility in innovation, adapting to changing consumer behavior, and addressing new pools of revenue, they are not only moving towards the restoration phase but also enhancing the customer experience manifold.
This is the long term marked by durable, strategic execution across the organization. Major activities comprise of learning to conduct operations processes and workflows in new, repeatable, and scalable ways, as well as using lessons learned and emerging patterns from initial phases to blend around a new foundation and way forward. It’s in the renew phase that prudent leaders reset or rebuild their business models and operations to realize the new reality.
In the absence of a cure or vaccine for COVID-19 so far, any rebound in business activity could very well be followed by another round of response, recover, and renew. The key is to absorb lessons learned faster and build sustainable changes into business and operating models. In this context, visual AI workplace safety solutions are increasingly used by businesses and industries across the globe to ensure the safety of their workers and customers. Computer vision applications are playing a crucial role in social distancing and occupancy monitoring. Coalesce senior and functional leaders around a scenario-planning protocol. This way they can recognize significant uncertainties and assess them in terms of their relevance to the future of their enterprise.
What Will The Future Of Your Business Be?
Given the highly disrupted environment, it is crucial to create a minimum viable strategy. As the novel economy emerges, use adaptive strategy tools and techniques to iterate. You should make strategic planning a continual activity so that it is responsive to the inevitable changes in the business context. Ask yourself: As we recover from this crisis, don’t we want to be different? If so, how?