Strategic Recovery Priorities

I know that speaking of Recovery may sound a bit of out of tune as many businesses are still struggling to survive and not perish, let alone to recover in the future. However all the research in the world is showing that the businesses that will very likely thrive and grow in the future are those that are carefully planning for their recovery. The logic is simple in itself. The huge disturbance brought by the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge game changer, a sudden earthquake, that has changed mindsets and consumption patterns in a short space of time. When such disturbance and change occurs there is also fertile ground for new opportunities for those who can adapt quickly and act accordingly. All the research is pointing towards 4 strategic priorities that businesses planning for a recovery are working on. These are a rapid recovering of revenue, rebuilding operations, rethinking the organisation and accelerating the adoption of digital solutions.

Rapidly recovering revenue: It will not be enough for companies to recover revenues gradually as the crisis abates. They will need to fundamentally rethink their revenue profile, to position themselves for the long term and to get ahead of the competition. To do this companies must SHAPE up. They almost need a start-up mindset leaving aside what worked in the past and facing this with a fresh mindset. All the market research is showing that as time goes by people are adapting fast and remote/online sales channels are proving to be as effective or even more effective than traditional channels. Thus, a Rapid revenue response isn’t just a way to survive the crisis. It’s the next normal for how companies will have to operate. But how will company leaders go about choosing what to do? Identify and prioritise revenue opportunities. What’s important is to identify the primary sources of revenue and, on that basis, make the “now or never” moves that need to happen before the recovery fully starts. This may include launching targeted campaigns to win back loyal customers; developing customer experiences focused on increased health and safety; adjusting pricing and promotions based on new data; reallocating spending to proven growth sources; reskilling the sales force to support remote selling; creating flexible payment terms or digitising sales channels. Once identified, these measures need to be rigorously prioritised to reflect their impact on earnings and the company’s ability to execute them quickly.

Rebuilding operations: We know now and are experiencing that the coronavirus pandemic has radically changed demand patterns for products and services across sectors. At the same time, it has been striking how fast some (not all) companies have adapted, creating radical new levels of visibility and end-customer connectivity. The question Business leaders should be asking is: How can we sustain the new way we are operating in this “new normal”? Please consider the following aspects: Building operations resilience. Successful companies will redesign their operations to protect against a wider and more acute range of potential shocks. In addition, they will act quickly to rebalance their supplier mix, not to be too reliant on any supplier. The once-prevalent global-sourcing model has proven its weaknesses and many are lookiing at changing their supply chains and source from closer to the home base. Another aspects regards operations is future of work. The future of work, defined by the use of more automation and technology, was always coming. COVID-19 has hastened the pace. Employees across all functions, for example, have learned how to complete tasks remotely, using digital communication and collaboration tools. In operations, changes will go further, with an accelerated decline in manual and repetitive tasks and a rise in the need for analytical and technical support. This shift will call for substantial investment in workforce engagement and training in new skills, much of it delivered using digital tools.

Rethinking the organisation: In the heat of the coronavirus crisis, organisations have been forced to work in new ways, and some are responding. This is an excellent time to have a look at your business from the ground up. This crisis has pushed shifts in operating models, the setting of clear goals, focused teams, and rapid decision making has replaced corporate bureaucracy. Now, as the world begins to move into the post-COVID-19 era, leaders must commit to not going back. The way in which they rethink their organisations will go a long way in determining their long-term competitive advantage. Specifically, they must decide who they are, how to work, and how to grow.

Accelerate digital adoption: Over the past few months, there has been a transformation in the way we interact with loved ones, do our work and spend free time. These changes have accelerated the migration to digital technologies at stunning scale and speed, across every sector. In Malta, as we are now during the early recovery period of partial reopening, business leaders are facing some fundamental challenges. One is that consumer behavior and demand patterns have changed significantly and will continue to do so. Another is that how the economy will lurch back to life will differ from sector to sector. For example, consumers may feel first comfortable going to restaurants before they will consider getting on a plane. Thus, early signals of increased consumer demand will likely come suddenly, and in clusters. Analysing these demand signals in real time and adapting quickly to bring services back will be essential for companies to successfully navigate the recovery. To address these challenges, leaders will need to set an ambitious digital agenda—and deliver it quickly, on the order of two to three months, as opposed to the previous norm of a year or more. There are various elements to this matter. This includes creating a seamless e-commerce experience, enabling customers to complete everything they need to do online, from initial research and purchase to service and returns. For industries such as airlines, ensuring health and safety will be essential, for example, by reinventing the passenger experience with “contactless” check-in, boarding, and in-flight experiences. We will surely see the rapid rise of Internet of Things and AI to better manage operations. On the other hand, the adoption of cloud and automation technologies will need to be speeded up, including bringing cloud operations on-premise and decommissioning costly legacy infrastructure.

To deal with the crisis and its aftermath, companies not only need to seize immediate and short-term revenue opportunities but need to re-think their operating models, the purpose of their organisation and also develop digital solutions. This means implementing change management. Business as usual will not be nearly enough: the game has changed too much. But by reimagining how one can recover, operate, organise oneself and how to use technology, companies can set the foundations for enduring success.

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