The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown to curtail it is not something the world is going to forget anytime soon. The health crisis has been unlike any other witnessed in recent history, which subsequently triggered an unprecedented economic crisis.
Naturally, in the wake of such a fatal pandemic, businesses all over were driven to implement equally extraordinary measures to safeguard their operations and people. Now with the vaccines slowly rolling out, businesses have begun efforts to resume and restart. For most enterprises and industry sectors, the dawning and ongoing Industry 4.0 (also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution) is playing a vital role in keeping them afloat. The companies that had already adopted the digital transformation found themselves better equipped to be resilient. For the companies that had not started scaling, 2020 served as a stark wake-up call.
With the global economies restarting, we are already seeing companies and organisations heeding the said wake-up call, beginning their journey to a digital recovery. Experts agree on four critical areas that need to be addressed immediately if companies want to be better prepared for establishing the ‘new normal in the post-pandemic times.
Reimagining the organisation
We saw a true adaptation of the power of humanity – which extended to even businesses. We saw apparel brands taking up manufacturing masks and stepping up to fulfil public-health needs. Perfume manufacturers, breweries, and distilleries adapted to manufacture sanitisers. We saw local retailers and vendors setting up a store online to meet their customers who had migrated there. And the unprecedented shift to remote working developed the ‘work-from-anywhere culture where productivity does not seem to get affected.
When the crisis struck, companies globally quickly realised the importance of strategising, clear goal-setting, and agile leadership. Going forward, businesses in diverse sectors must remember that the future would have technology as the key ingredient of their business model. Therefore, it is imperative to encourage skill development or upskilling that addresses this shift. Additionally, where business operations ride on data, the way ahead would involve leveraging data insights and data analytics to be better prepared for the upcoming unpredictable consumer and user patterns.
Reimagining customer strategies
With all the operations grinding to a halt, there was a sudden and never-before-seen shift in consumer patterns worldwide. While the demand is expected to increase, the process shall be gradual, and it is unlikely to reach the 2019 levels at least for the next few years.
Businesses will need to deploy remodelled digital solutions that take into consideration the shifting user expectations and work on their user experience accordingly. As mentioned before, their customer strategies need to be embedded with relevant technology integrations as they remodel their consumer solutions. Data, the internet of things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI) can be deployed to stay on top of fluctuating demands and to also catch and resolve any glitches in the demand-supply chain.
It is an opportunity for businesses to drive the acceleration of digital adoption and tech modernisation. We are set to see new needs and expectations that are unique to the post-pandemic world across all sectors – namely contactless service, the ability to do everything online, and prioritising human health and safety at every turn. Rapid digital reinvention is the best bet organisations have if they wish to stay ahead in the competition.
A shifting consumer pattern demands a shifting operation strategy and industrial models. Traditional educators had no option but to embrace eLearning. Retailers and local sellers – irrespective of their digital literacy – had no option but to adapt to e-commerce stores. Employees far and wide had no option but to learn to work remotely without compromising on their productivity.
2020 challenged and upended the digitalisation rates. We not only reimagined our operations but also performed them with a radical level of agility, visibility, scalability, and productivity. The objective now is to retain this performance. The way forward will need to be dominated by remodelled operations that are resilient as well as flexible. Low cost and high flexibility shall need to be the norm for businesses to remain successful.
One of the methodologies that are quickly gaining popularity to turn fixed capital costs into flexible ones is harnessing the benefits of the ‘as a service’ operation model. Speed will be of the essence for companies to sustain their progress rates in the post-pandemic world and the way to deploy it is digital.
Leveraging revenue, technology for business re-imagination
COVID-19 was the biggest stress-tested for IT operations globally. The world changed the way it interacted, communicated, shopped, sought healthcare and entertainment, and ran all those errands which were both a necessity and luxury. Rising to meet these demands were technologies and IT solutions repurposed or newly designed and deployed at impossible speeds.
And now, as the value and importance of technology is re-emphasised, the IT industry is going to be further leveraged like never before. Businesses need to be ready with advanced analytics to foresee the surge in offline demand as less essential sectors open up to be equipped at making decisions. They need to be prepared to expect and understand what will be valued post-COVID-19 and design solutions accordingly. And above all, businesses need to continue being humane at the core.
Going forward, the future of businesses will not only be guided by their radical technology implementations and digital integrations but also be dependent on how their operating models and technology strategies address their people. Better connectivity solutions, productivity tools, sensitised upskilling programmes, and rebuilding their talent pool would play a vital role in the future of businesses.
The world has transformed, and its effects are going to permanently alter how we all function. We stand to see new user preferences, consumer patterns, enterprise operating models, and an overall novel way of working. The impact of the lockdown will surely be different in kind and scale for different industrial sectors. But the tool for assured revival and the path towards certain success in the coming future will remain common for all, which is digital.
Nishant Rathi is CEO and Founder, NeoSOFT Technologies
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