2020 has been a challenging year for every human being on the planet, to put it mildly, and organizations are no exception. The COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated one of the biggest financial and economic crises in living memory and shows no signs of being stamped out just yet.
In this uncertainty-fraught year, how do businesses regroup and gird their loins, so to speak, ride out these stressful times, and come out stronger?
Here we bring you a compilation of the best practices and strategies to bounce back from the uncertainties of this crisis:
1. Businesses must be proactive in evaluating their business models, the disruption thereof, and coming up with viable alternatives. As human beings, it is natural for us to want to hold on to the comfort of what we know. Instead, this is the time for us to think of what could be, and how our business could be reshaped to be relevant in the world to come. Once the short-term rescue or contingency measures have been deployed, organisations must divert their attention to the broader picture, and come up with longer-term plans to keep the show on the road.
For instance, the new work-from-home norm led to a spike in the demand for laptops. Once the short-term supply is met and work has resumed, companies can devote more attention to whether it is feasible in the long term to have a certain percentage of workers doing their jobs permanently from home, and whether they can move from refurbished leased laptops as a stop-gap arrangement to investing in more streamlined models.
2. Organisations must be agile in sniffing out opportunities to gain or retain their competitive edge in these new and changed circumstances, and then quickly take advantage of whatever resources remain available to them to make it happen. Several travel service providers such as Airbnb have started curating good virtual experiences for their community of avid travellers. While these may not be long-term solutions, they certainly help tide business through. These measures also cause us to ask some important questions- what are we in the business of selling? Is it the operational element that is ‘travel’ in Airbnb's case, or is it the joy of discovering new things?
3. Some organisations can use this time to reinvent themselves. In fact, many are using this forced hiatus to rebrand, revamp their website, go back to the drawing board wherever necessary. This is the business equivalent of picking up the DIY home improvement project that keeps getting pushed to the back burner for lack of time. There is no better time than now to take the risks you’ve been putting off. We have seen businesses that were typically social media shy taking to Facebook and LinkedIn with great gusto. As the saying goes, not trying gets us nowhere, but trying gets us somewhere along the path to where we eventually want to be.
4. Organisations can also scope out new tools and build capabilities that will help them stress-test their ongoing processes and protocols, and come up with a solid roadmap to recovery. Eventually, this knowledge gain will be invaluable in helping them ramp up their market presence in the post-COVID business era. Having the right mindset and accepting difficult times as accelerators of change can make such an effort a highly productive exercise.
For instance, Wow! Momo Foods, a fast-service restaurant brand just as fast launched a grocery service ‘Wow! Momo Essential Services’. Similarly, dine-in restaurants known for their ambience but shut for months have adopted the “cloud kitchen” concept and come up with pandemic-inspired menus for home delivery.
5. Planning scenarios and harnessing all possible data can help organisations identify areas where they must concentrate their resources. Simulating various scenarios across the different areas of their business, for instance, inventory/supply chain management, finances, meeting prior orders, or attending to emerging customer demands will provide valuable data towards identifying bottlenecks and high-priority needs across logistics, marketing as well as financial sectors.
For example, mobile ad spending went up as companies targeted people spending more time on their smartphones. Sales and marketing metrics changed rapidly during lockdown periods. HubSpot researchers found that the ratio of marketing email engagements to open rates improved since around the start of the crisis. 5&Vine shifted their resources to support content, social and community teams and spent less on strategy and digital acquisition.
Organisations can study each other to see what is working and what isn’t. A pandemic is one scenario where shared knowledge of successes and failures can benefit all. It is also an opportunity to build strong leadership, better vendor and customer relationships, and embrace change.