Things to consider for your post-COVID19 business strategy
Last updated on May 14th, 2020
Author: Robert Rutherford
I should first acknowledge that not all businesses can be thinking of what lies on the other side of this situation, as some are simply fighting for survival. My thoughts are certainly with them and those who work for them.
Many other sectors and businesses need to plan for the other side of this pandemic now. While we do need to deal with the acute issues day by day, strategic planning is also critical. The way we work has changed significantly and forever, hopefully for the better in due course.
Although a pandemic was a well-called risk, most weren’t fully prepared for it. Many businesses already had operationally mature IT systems, e.g. working in an agile manner, had the right management metrics, controls and security in place, and had their business continuity plans up together and well tested. However, most weren’t fully prepared for en-masse and sustained disruption and working.
Looking forward – 8 changes to prepare for
A few weeks into this global pandemic, the dust is ‘temporarily’ settling for some businesses. Those business leaders are now thinking how the other side is going to look and what steps they need to take to survive and, in due course, thrive. In reality what’s on the other side is going to make, break, or seriously impact a business.
Things will change, some areas more than others. The national and global market has become smaller again, the norm is now to do business without being physically present on a wider arrange of sectors – technology is going to play a big role in streamlining services and operations. This creates huge opportunities for the savvy, innovative and ambitious. It’s certainly time, at the very least to get the virtual whiteboard out and get back to basics with a SWOT assessment!
So, here is my take on what business leaders should consider at a high-level when creating a strategy.
Office space & agile working
Business leaders now know that their teams can remain largely productive without being in the office every day. They know that buildings are a big chunk of the overhead and can now see a real opportunity to drive those costs down. That coupled with staff understanding that they can generally get as much done out of the office whilst having a better work/life balance is going to fuel the shift from big expensive offices. Staff are going to be expecting more flexibility in how they work – and why shouldn’t they? If employers don’t give them choices on the other side of this, they may have talent retention issues in some sectors.
Client demand for service and choice rises
Client services expectations have been rising for years. This will continue to escalate now people are used to working, buying and interacting in different ways to the norms. They’ve been interfacing with other suppliers and vendors, seeing how things can be done. They’ve become used to video-calls on demand, improved responses and better service as suppliers seek to overserve clients to protect revenue. Many consumers already do a lot online and on-demand, but now it’s come to the masses. Now they’re up to speed, they like the choice and will very likely want to do things differently.
Security risks grow
As people work more flexibly, very likely on different devices in different locations, this does increase a business’s threat landscape. However, the security threats themselves aren’t new and can be controlled through effective Information Security Management frameworks and systems. In due course, the key thing will be to get some Information Security Management systems in place, such as ISO 27001.
Video over voice
The standard office phone isn’t going to cut it now. After years of resistance, people are now expecting to chat on video; it’s the new normal to video call prospects, clients and colleagues, it’s the new norm. This is going to provide big advantages on engagement and around cost reduction, in terms of travel, meeting space, etc.
Data is ‘still’ king
Data, metrics and information are always essential to a business. However, during the current disruption, it’s been quite clear for many to see where their weaknesses are, be it tracking productivity and measuring performance, through to lacking the ability to be able to easily delve down into each client, product or service at a granular level. Even at a high level, it would make sense to be reviewing what KPIs matter now, across the business and at a departmental level.
Virtual teams become common
Now we know teams can remain connected and engaged while apart, the makeup of many teams will change. If you want specific skills – does it matter if don’t live within a certain radius or even the same country? Do they need to be full-time? Do they even need to be employed by you? If a business has the right technologies, management frameworks, measurements, and the right culture then everyone wins. Sure, we do miss some dynamics, but they can and must be overcome. Many sectors have been reaping the benefits for some time, it’s just come to the masses.
Business structures and operations will change
All of the tools are in place to analyse, report and forecast on every area of business operations, in terms of productivity, efficiency plus more. A short (hopefully), sharp shock is what many businesses leaders really need to open their eyes, to see what’s really going on, whilst also listening to the gut instincts they’ve had for some time. There has never been a better time to review processes, KPIs and technology all of which could lead to widespread disruption and business improvement. Automation will rise, customer and client engagement will change, selling and buying methods will alter, everything is up for review. The major factor is that technology’s place in business has changed, particularly since the last significant event, the financial crisis of 2008. Although it will be a cost to the business, it is now more accessible than ever (with access to the cloud etc) and should be viewed as an investment; significant gains are there to be had if the right decisions are made. If you can see the cold hard facts decisions have to be made.
Strategy is everything
Getting the right strategy, particularly around business and IT alignment, is critical right now. If you have the capacity to invest, it needs to deliver value now and in the medium to long term. Now is the time to make the strategic decisions, or at least to evaluate them. The pandemic exit strategy is as important planning for and dealing with it. Things will have changed and the decisions we make today are going to have ramifications for some time.
The list above is just things that that I expect to change. In fairness, many are just things businesses should have been doing and/or considering pre-COVID 19. They aren’t exactly revolutionary, but it’s important to acknowledge and take note of the obvious as we often get lost in the heat of battle, in the good times and the bad.