Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
There’s no time to lick our wounds as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the time to build up our resilience for the new future.
2020 has brought challenges that even the most prepared, digitally advanced organisations have struggled with. As business leaders we all understand that we need to take a hard look at how we operate and build resilience in a post-pandemic world.
Every area of the economy, and every area of business, was affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic and, as we start the slow return to a new normal, we also start refining our plans to survive and thrive in an uncertain future. From operational remodelling to radically changing employee systems, from digital evolution to overhauling the product mix: the to-do list seems endless. However you choose to prioritise your transformation backlog, it is wise to maintain focus in on three key areas when building long term resilience: create flexibility, empower your people and, advance your digitisation.
Traditional businesses that historically enjoyed the comfort of predictable, rigid operating models find themselves limited by their inability to flex and adapt to sudden new demands, limitations and processes. Resilience comes not with this rigidity but with the fluidity of running a responsive, adaptable model with digital capabilities at its core.
McKinsey talk about how consumer companies, retailers and B2B companies – and their providers – need to be considering their adaptability across operating models, pricing and promotions, looking further to the future to predict behaviours and trends and, ultimately, embracing ‘agile techniques to sustain the hard–won momentum’.
When Toyota’s business units felt that legacy IT processes were inhibiting their ability to create and deploy their own solutions to a rapid schedule it was Microsoft PowerApps that helped unlock the workforces’ agility and brought their vision to life.
PowerApps now help employees to develop low/no code apps that are custom made to their business needs without the involvement of IT. Over 400 apps have now been developed by employees and over 100,000 sheets of paper have been saved.
Most companies – many surprising themselves and their employees – made the transition to remote working with a reasonable level of success. But sustaining this success long term is where the new challenge lies. Gone are the serendipitous moments of inspiration between two colleagues on a coincidental trip to the coffee machines, and the nuances of one–on–one communication can fade without the comfort of proximity and insufficient virtual means to counteract these challenges.
Establishing a platform with the breadth of tools and the adaptability to respond to changes needs and creative, employee and customer driven solutions is essential for future resilience and continuity of engagement.
Dutch multinational health, nutrition and sustainable living corporation Royal DSM needed to protect the health and well-being of its global workforce during COVID-19 but wanted to minimise any impact on business continuity.
Through Microsoft Teams DSM was able to ensure that its 23,000 employees across 50 countries were able to remain connected when a third of the workforce had to shift without warning to working from home. After a rollout for 19,000 employees in just three months, and integration across interfaces to ensure collaboration, Teams remains the backbone for business continuity.
Legacy platforms with disparate data sets can weigh down your organisation with the burden of time and risk management. The more digitally augmented a business, the more able it is to identify impacts and pivot to new ways of working.
Digital transformation can be a long path for some but if you can focus on delivering a robust fit-for-purpose, scalable platform, with low-risk availability and easy access to consistent, secure data then you can take a staged, evolutionary route to absolute resilience.
When coronavirus struck Australia, the Red Cross needed to connect their 10,000 plus team of volunteers to opportunities to help vulnerable people in need of their help.
Using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service and Power BI volunteers and team leads are able to communicate with each other and people in need to check on well-being and arrange for the provision of food and psychological first aid. The network was implemented on just one week and gives the ability to scale to meet demand instantly.
Resilience comes not simply from disaster mapping and scenario planning but from having the agility and culture to adapt to any situation as it arises. The next global crisis will definitely throw us new and unexpected challenges but, with the right tools in place, with an engaged and productive workforce, and with a flexible attitude to flex our model and pivot out of disaster we have every opportunity to survive… and thrive.