“We are living in unprecedented times”, “We are currently swimming in uncharted waters” and “We are at war”. How many times have we heard or seen these phrases pop up in an email over the past couple of months? Thankfully, no one seems to be including them in emails anymore, however up to 3 weeks ago, I still found myself rolling my eyes at every instance possible.
In all fairness, this was, and to some extent, is still very much relevant due to the breakout of Covid-19 – The only difference is that we are now finally in a period where we can see a ray of light at the end of the tunnel.
Don’t get me wrong, the ray is nowhere near being described as blinding! However with far fewer cases of the virus being discovered, restrictions slowly being uplifted, a clearer shed on the discovery of the vaccine and the overall positive fighting spirit and synergies of the population wanting to get back to normal, business entrepreneurs and executives are now able to sideline the humanitarian side of the crisis and focus on what lies ahead from a strategic business point of view.
Disruptions in the supply chain, unemployment and economic uncertainty have been the major players acting as obstacles for “business as usual” activities to operate.
At some point, all shut business-gates will open again. The overarching message is it’s not enough to take a wait-and-see approach and only those companies/businesses that take proactive steps to bounce back will actually do so.
PREPARING YOUR ORGANISATION FOR POST-PANDEMIC
Due to the situation, many businesses at this point in time have resorted to working under reduced hours with staff members possibly being placed on furlough. Re-opening your business does not mean that staffing your operation will be done as smoothly as it used to be done in the past. Questions on roles and responsibilities will be asked and a strong, assertive start will be needed – otherwise you will find yourself in a position where you risk losing loyal customers and/or loyal staff members since you will not be able to meet their needs.
Some questions you might want to consider:
- Will you bring all business operations to an opening at once or introduce them strategically based on the right timing?
- If so, are you currently adequately staffed for what you want to achieve in the short run ? If not, what will you do to address this potential issue?
- What picture can depict what your company will look like post-pandemic?
- If you have people on specialised leave or furlough, which employees will you bring back and in what order?
- Have you ever considered the potential issue of employees not wanting to return back?
- On the other hand, have you ever considered the potential issue of not needing all your employees anymore due to the drastic measures to help with business operations ? Will you wait until the pandemic has passed or will you act upon it now?
- How will your corporate culture change?
- What position did you attain during the pandemic and how will this remain or change post-pandemic?
- Most importantly, what is your new definition of risk management?
- Predict. Are the right probabilities assigned and the right scenarios identified?
- Adapt. What are your built-in checkpoints and procedures to adapt to the aforementioned probabilities and scenarios?
- Be resilient. How will you tackle and be resilient towards unanticipated issues?
WHAT ARE THE EXPERTS SAYING ?
In a publication pushed out by Sifted Business Magazine, a handful of business futurists coming from different backgrounds were interviewed based on their knowledge and expertise in the field. The interviewees were the following:
Tamar Kasriel – the retail and FMCG futurist
Tamar has a remarkable portfolio in her 20+ years of experience advising giant brands like Bacardi, Unilever, Costa, De Beers and Tesco how to understand, translate and deal with consumer change.
Maneesh Juneja – The digital health futurist
Looking at the situation through the political, socio-cultural and economic lenses, Juneja aids organisations and enterprises to think differently about the future. Exploring the integration of latest technologies that facilitate the need for a healthier world.
David Wood – The radical futurist
With a background in the telecoms industry, co-founder of Symbian and an author of 9 books based on observations focused on radical transformations of human society, David Wood is also the chair of the NPO: London Futurists which boasts approximately 8000 members.
- Was a pandemic in the future scenarios you constructed before? Does one actually happen to rewrite a futurist’s playbook?
All interviewees here provided the same type of answer. Whilst stating that the risk of a future crisis is always in the thoughtful pipeline, a pandemic has always been perceived as a wild-card due to technologies which have played a key role into avoiding such a crisis. In the future not only would other wildcards be tackled with a higher priority but futurists are also looking into a better form of effective communication amongst their audiences.
The Covid-19 crisis is pushing us to quickly adopt digital technologies, remote working and e-commerce. But what non-obvious changes might we see?
This question was tackled by the interviewees with an agreed observation on how digital technologies have proven their worth and come to our rescue in such times. Any barriers there might have been pre-pandemic for companies or governments to push their services online have now had the opportunity to eat a slice of humble pie and drop these barriers. Thus providing the barriers for previous trends to accelerate for a boom post covid.
Companies who adapt will survive. The ones who do not will unfortunately perish. It was also discussed that although we are gifted with the convenience of such technologies, we must not let them curb our freedom. In the interviews, an example was brought up of how an Australian state had the power to tackle self isolation regulations by installing surveillance technology in their homes rather than just simply trusting people into not going out.
How should businesses be thinking about the future when it is still so unclear how we come out of the pandemic??
Unfortunately and fortunately, the last global pandemic was experienced over a hundred years ago. This means that the information we have on how people dealt with it at that time is very limited. And with the limited information that we do have, we can never compare the societies of back then with the ones of now.
This pandemic provides a crash course in the nature of exponential change and this crash course will prepare us for any future pandemics that might occur. Whilst it is ideal to be prepared for an even more damaging crisis that can occur in the future, there are limits to what can be accomplished by developing better powers of foresight.
Instead of focusing on a tailored approach just in case a specific crisis of a certain nature occurs again, companies should shift their focus on agility – how fast would the company adapt to a completely new environment.
Another interesting discussion point brought about by this question is that businesses are powered by people. Companies should now be strategizing around the idea of investing in their employees – to make sure that they are given the right, adequate tools to help them cope with anything lurking in the future.
For the full interview and article, please refer to the link below
REDEFINING YOUR BUSINESS MODEL
As an all-round digital experience agency, ANCHOVY. has for a long time given importance to the digital side of business activity. Times like these help validate the importance of our business model and help reassure our prioritisation and connection with the digital world.
We believe that Malta on the whole has come a long way in recent years in terms of stepping away from the brick-and-mortar approach and instead acclimatizing to the new found strategic world of online business.
YOUR BUSINESSES’ MOST PRIZED POSSESSION
In times of crises, people’s behavioural habits, motives and priorities change with some being more drastic than others. If you are a B2C company, your most valuable stakeholder at this very moment is the human being. I choose my words wisely here. I refrain from using the word consumer for a reason.
People right now are craving comfort, connection and peace of mind. No matter the brand they are currently loyal to, it is very clear that the situation has radicalised the need for a new type of customer experience to be presented from a B2C company. As a business owner, it will be fundamentally wrong of you to strategize around how you should acquire the largest market share. What people need right now is for the brand that they’ve been loyal to for all these years to reciprocate in kind.
Brands with the best price, coolest product, or most memorable marketing campaign might not have an advantage compared with those that exhibit emotional intelligence and communicate with care, honesty, and empathy, and build trust as a result.
This all falls in line with a research conducted by PwC before the crisis even hit. The research highlighted the development of customer experience in the highly accelerated digital world and how it is perceived.
The results showed that 59% of global consumers surveyed felt that they were betrayed by their brands and the companies that supply them due to the fact that personal customer experience had become a sunken ship. 75% of the surveyed preferred interaction with a human being rather than an automated machine.
Ask yourself the question: Are you reaching out to your customers to help them or are you trying to sell them something ? This can be a make or break for you. Never forget that people right now especially, are thriving on empathy and with that comes a high sensitive response to tone and motive. Your messages and marketing must come across as authentic, caring and valued and not perceived as self-serving.
Let ANCHOVY. Help you find ways to make your digital concept more human.
Wartime is no joke. What we have all passed through during the past months was massively burdensome for us both on a high level business level as well as a humanitarian level. Although we can finally see “normality” coming back slowly, without a shadow of a doubt, the ripple effects will be felt for a long time.
In times like these, on boarding a nonchalant attitude for your business approach will be terrible for the future of your organisation. Unless you ingrain in your head that we are going to come out of this and face a totally new normal, you will find it very difficult to adapt.
Understandably the metaphorical opaque doorway is still very much relevant as none of us have a clear image of where we are headed. We are in no man’s land and it is fundamental not to succumb to complacency, now more than ever. I definitely encourage you to ask yourself questions related to your business which could have been perceived as awkward ones in the past which might have therefore been avoided. It is now time to face them and tackle them at full force. Never has it been a more important time to do this.
Only once this is done will you be able to strategize accordingly to what lies ahead in the future.
ANCHOVY. fully understands the importance of forward thinking
and customer-oriented strategies. Help us help you!
If you follow the same understanding and want to digitally strategize your operations, improve your customer experience, track your customers and expand your reach to clients in the most natural way, contact us and hop on the metaphorical boat, let’s sail together straight into success.
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