Prior to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations were already reimagining their business models. This was largely in part due to an unprecedented rate of change caused by advancements in Information, Communications, and Technology (ICT), which resulted in changes in consumer tastes, the intensity of competition, and the threat level of technology-enabled new entrants. The pandemic has further accelerated the rate of change as it expedited the mass adoption of ICT solutions across all industries. Problems facing organisations are therefore not limited to surviving and bouncing back from COVID-19 but extend to ensuring that they remain competitive in an ever-changing world. Business recovery will, therefore, be technology-led and transformation will be at the centre of recovery.
For a successful business recovery, organisations need to balance ensuring both the immediate and long-term success of their operations. To ensure immediate success organisations should be in crisis mode making sure that they protect their current business operations. For long-term success, organisations need to evaluate and rethink how they deliver value to their customers.
Companies should have cross-functional teams of experts whose objective is to ensure immediate organisational success by formulating and implementing actionable plans and strategies. These short-term plans and strategies need to ensure the safety of both customers and employees throughout their value chain. The strategies must also improve employee productivity while working from home, and the revenues, costs, and cash operations of the organisation. A proactive response is essential in managing the COVID-19 crisis and developing the agility to adapt to rapid changes in the external environment. Certainly, nobody can predict the future, however, when it comes to the pandemic, there are three possible scenarios. The pandemic could come to an end through mass vaccination, it could be endemic due to regional differences in the response by the public to vaccination, or vaccination could be a global success and completely eradicate the pandemic. Leaders need to model extensively around these possible outcomes for a successful recovery.
Long term success
For organisations to thrive in the long run they need to undergo a fundamental change in how they deliver value to their customers. COVID-19 has expedited the mass adoption of technologies such as video conferencing, e-commerce, online banking, and more. COVID-19 regulations have forced both customer and organisation reliance on these technologies that have proven to work. As a result, customer tastes and behaviours have changed rapidly as a result of this reliance. It is therefore essential that organisations investigate fundamental changes in how they deliver value to their customers to meet the demands of changing spending habits. Organisations must deliver value to customers in a manner that meets their needs and exceeds their expectations. The delivery of value must be fast and convenient, without compromising the safety of the customer. For example, for traditional banks to remain competitive in the long run, they need to match the levels of convenience, speed, and safety with which neobanks service the needs of their clients. However, traditional banks and neobanks are rooted in two differing fundamental principles (what is the major differentiator between the two). Traditional banks, therefore, need to undergo transformation throughout their value chain to effectively service the needs of their customers, and match and outperform their competitors to ensure their long-term success.
Leading a business transformation
For a successful organisational transformation to occur, leaders must first understand the current state of their organisation and that of the influence of their macro environment on operations. They must then determine the desired future state of the organisation and think reflectively about what they need to do to realize their aspirations. Leaders must develop a clear strategic vision, with foresight of risks and possible mitigation strategies, that will direct all employee efforts in realising the purpose of the organisation. This would aid efforts to solicit buy-in from the employees who would resonate from a personal level with the overall strategy. An organisation could, for example, aspire to be agile. The vision must help employees understand the motivation behind the aspiration. It is then up to the leaders to develop action plans translating how the transformation will be realised to reach the desired future state. This must be followed by the most difficult step in the transformation process which is execution. Getting all stakeholders aligned on, and adopting the strategy makes this phase challenging (why or how? common pitfalls?). Once the execution phase has been completed a transformation will have occurred.
Business recovery will require leaders to simultaneously focus their attention and resources on the current and future needs of their organisations. Focusing on one and neglecting the other could be detrimental to the organisation (why and how? consider opportunity cost?).
The scale of change that has occurred over the past year demands that leaders consider transformation to match the scale of change and level of uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
At EMZ Advisory we assist organisations to live out their vision of providing customised solutions that enable positive change to unleash their growth potential. We have adapted our best practice delivery model to help leaders deal with recovery and transformation during these challenging times of crisis where individual and team accountability is key.
Deloitte. (2020). Workforce Strategies for Post-COVID Recovery. Deloitte.
Hernan Saenz, D. O. (2020). Protect, Recover and Retool. Baine & Company.
Kanarick, B. (2020, April 6). Why transformation is essential to a COVID-19 recovery. EY.