Managing your business and COVID-19 are having you feeling overwhelmed ?
As a business leader, there are most likely one or two things keeping you up a night on a regular Monday night. With the recent global events, chances are there are a few more things keeping you up these days.
Are your regular operations fully functional with your employees working remotely from home?
Were you caught off guard with the recent global crisis and wished your operation tools were Cloud-based?
Scientists around the world will agree, COVID-19 is not the world’s first pandemic, nor will it be the last and as always, there will be new competitors coming to play in your market, new technologies that will make yours outdates, new trends to catch up to, etc.
Knowing history will repeat itself, isn’t it time to take on your business’s full cloud transformation into action in order to fully thrive when the next curve ball hits? Are you getting the most out of this unpredicted downtime? Wishing your business to be thriving instead of surviving?
5 Ways to Prepare your business for an Upcoming Upturn (or how to use the most of a downtime)
The forecast is clear: multiple factors like economic, environmental, geographical, political and yes, viral (and we are not referring to phishing here) can and will have dramatic repercussions and impacts on most businesses at some point.
Some businesses will get through this curve ball and some won’t. There are many ways to get through tough times during an unforeseen downtime, here are 5 to guide you and help you start preparing for upcoming upturn (and yes, it will come, be prepared).
Other businesses are seizing this opportunity, so should yours.
What falls down will eventually go up and the same principle applies to business downtimes. Inspired by this Harvard Business Review article that was published in 2009 and that is still very relevant today, here are two takeaways that certainly apply to your business in 2020, or should we say, especially in 2020.
Companies that survive a downturn actually do more than survive, they thrive.
Invest now (yes, during a downtime)
Supported by main corporate objectives, they ensure to position their business in the upcoming upturn by investing for the future. Even when financials are not optimal, this should not stop your business from taking some risks. Putting in priority options that do protect investments and that have a significant impact on the long-term health of your business and postponing initiatives that have a lower or negative ROI is a good strategy for the future success of your company.
Adapting to ever-changing needs
Successful businesses will have foreseen these changes to their industry landscape and will have adapted their business models to set themselves apart from their competitors. You must have observed their readiness to take on a global crisis by their fully functional teams work from home using your Cloud-based productivity tools and wishing your business had embraced the cloud transformation last year. Now, where to start? Is your business too late in the digital game? Not at all.
All these ideas to migrate your operations to cloud-based applications and have your teams fully productive working remotely as well as any initiatives to keep your business competitive are good and there are potentially more than you can handle all at once. Your best option is to prioritize based on urgency, financial impacts, difficulty to implement and potential risks for your business.
Successful businesses will have foreseen these changes to their industry landscape and will have adapted their business models to set themselves apart from their competitors.
A pharmaceutical company with a solid portfolio maintained their R&D during the 2001-2003 recession in order to keep its product pipeline robust. The outcome is that the company gained market share and outperformed peers in the stock market that did not take advantage of the downtime.
Another example of a business known worldwide: Apple. The company wasn’t in particularly good shape as it headed into the 2001–2003 recession. Nonetheless, Apple increased its R&D expenditures and maintained that level in the following two years. The result? Apple introduced the iTunes music store and software in 2003 and the iPod Mini and the iPod Photo in 2004, setting off a period of rapid growth for the company.
Based on facts not fears
An interesting approach is to use the “revolving door” technique that relies on using an outside perspective. If you’re stuck in a big decision, you can pretend you’re a new CEO or a turnaround manager who can “see things more clearly.” Adopting a third-person perspective helps you tap into an objective mode of judgment, one based on facts and an understanding of the consequences.
You may realize that you should have make this change/migration a year ago thanks to this methodology and assess how this could have impacted your business’s productivity and profits.
When looking at stock markets today, you certainly wish you had more Tech related stocks in your portfolio for example. It will be of no surprise to you that businesses that make working from home easy and services related to a home office do very well (RingCentral, Shopify, Slack, Teams and Zoom to name a few). As an example, Teams gained 12 million new users during first week of home confinement in North America (week of March 16, 2020).
Nurture your clients
Take time to nurture your existing clients and assess how you can better serve them. Chances are, they too are going through a downtime and you want to be present and assist in any way you can. They might need a different service or product or even for you to adapt your processes and delivery in order to meet their new reality.
Rethink your Business
Use this down time to revisit how you do your business (new client acquisition, processes, operations, billing, etc.). Human beings tend to agree and act upon news and information that reinforces their pre-existing beliefs, while disregarding information that calls these beliefs into question (reminds you of a certain someone?).
This being said, several operational and management tools or processes, such as net current value, are built on a foundation of assumed certainty that it’s realistic to forecast cash flows into the future. In today’s world, such thinking is no longer effective nor practical. So, how should business leaders approach this challenge of keeping the core business relevant and anticipating what the future could or should look like? More on this later.
Invest in your business
Invest in Technology
One way to prepare your business for the upcoming upturn during this downturn that was not in any forecast, is to continue (or start if you have been putting this one on the back burner for a while) to invest in technology. Businesses that do invest in technology with a clear strategy new and well though and planned processes are more likely to come out ahead after the market bounces back.
This may involve reevaluating your current processes, setting your entire business to be able to work remotely and might also have to do with embracing analytics so you can enhance your understanding of what’s driving your business.
And, of course, a downturn is no time to let up on tools that make it easier to serve your customer base. Teams is a great tool to keep in touch with your customers and share reporting while still being able to read their nonverbal.
Karina Lemay, Creative Dynamic Customer Centric Digital Transformation Enthusiast and AZUR Group Key Account Manager for IATA
Now, where to start?
Adaptation is key and having a solid digital transformation roadmap built with a trusted partner is a great way to ensure the right approach is used, identify quick wins, regain your potential loss during slower periods and optimize your costs by prioritizing your business’s main pains and gains via a process analysis and customer journey mapping.