The three keys to emerging smarter

By | 4 minute read | October 29, 2020

For many companies, the past six months have been focused on surviving the pandemic and creating new operational processes. Now, as the post-COVID environment looms in the foreseeable future, it’s time for organizations to make the shift to determining how they can emerge better equipped to handle disruptions related to the pandemic in the near future — and, even more importantly, how to respond to the economic recession caused by the pandemic.

One of the key lessons of the pandemic revolved around digital no longer being optional. However, companies must take this lesson to the next level by redesigning their approach and strategy based on today’s environment and increased digital needs. By focusing on the following key areas, businesses can position themselves to not only weather the recession but create the processes to thrive in the post-pandemic world.

Innovate through ecosystems

Businesses can no longer rely solely on their own resources to exceed the expectations of employees and customers. Instead, the key to successfully emerging from the pandemic recession revolves around an organization’s willingness and ability to create an effective ecosystem. The traditional, siloed approach no longer works. Companies must be willing to proactively forge partnerships with vendors that possess the skills and tools that complement their goals and focus on actionable insights.

Organizations must build their ecosystems over the cloud for innovation and continuous improvement. Since one’s needs are unique to one’s company, the cloud architecture for each ecosystem must focus on differentiation. By starting with the cloud, organizations build resilience into their core and that resilience radiates into the company. Even in the post-COVID environment, resilience is likely to remain a key element of success.

By focusing on core applications, third-party vendor partnerships, and employees, organizations build ecosystems that enable the level of innovation required by the post-pandemic environment. However, having these relationships and structures in place is only the first step. Once these ecosystems are in place, businesses must then focus on operating in an “agile at scale” state. By laying down the foundation of processes, metrics, and actions, organizations will be prepared to move quickly to respond to marketplace and industry changes.

Accelerate results with your partners

Many organizations mistakenly assume that forging partnerships means relying on another company to solve their problems. Today’s unique situation requires a middle ground between “going at it alone” and handing over responsibility — and that middle ground comes in the form of collaborative partnerships. This approach requires a new mindset, processes, and core applications. Successful partnerships involve each party working independently toward the shared outcome.

While exploring new forms of revenue or lines of business may appear, on the surface, to be the best route, businesses should instead focus on their core capabilities and outsource other needs to partners. By outsourcing to partners, businesses gain speed and co-innovation. Organizations should carefully select partners that provide excellent customer service and are aligned with the company’s strategic goals.

While partnerships often focus on collaboration with the vendor, organizations must also focus on platforms that accelerate change — especially in terms of cloud resources. While partnerships provide additional resources and applications, they also significantly increase the speed of response to a new direction or opportunity. By building in decision-making processes that allow all parties to focus on their strengths and respond more quickly, an ecosystem can respond with collective action.

Operate with flexibility

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses were forced to evaluate the market’s needs, determine their own business needs, and understand their current resources — all at a pace never seen before. Instead of responding to an idea with “It’s never been done before,” businesses put new processes, and even products or services into action with almost no notice. The agility demonstrated by many organizations came down to the flexibility to adapt and change course as new information was learned.

While no one wants to relive or repeat those stressful weeks, the lessons learned about the ability to respond at a speed previously assumed impossible should be a key takeaway of the pandemic. Even more importantly, businesses should work to keep the flexible attitude that helped them survive the initial crisis. This pandemic and recession are unlike any past experience for every organization. Business agility means willingness to try new approaches and ideas at a net-new level.

However, flexibility does not mean operating on a whim or with a scattered approach. Organizations must create the foundation of flexibility by building core digital cloud-based applications to allow the agility needed. With this core in place, the next step revolves around creating a clear road map and, almost as importantly, a realistic budget. By having the processes in place, teams have a clear structure to operate within.

Achieving the true agility needed for businesses today and the foreseeable future means focusing on empowering employees to make the quick and collaborative decisions required in uncertain times. With an effectively created ecosystem, teams have the structure and resources need to quickly gather and analyze the data needed for the business insights that lead to effective decisions. Without that ability, true flexibility is not possible.

Through the pandemic, businesses have gained the ability to operate with a high degree of uncertainty. By shifting focus to creating the ecosystem and partnerships needed for tomorrow’s digital needs, organizations can leverage the flexibility learned during this disruption to position the business to take advantage of new opportunities and overcome unforeseen challenges.