Business and Technology in a Post-Pandemic Era

How have 2020 and 2021 changed your world?

If you answered radically, well, you are not alone!

Across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic turned homes into offices and schools, colleges into distance learning programs, and it caused businesses to close their doors or move their operations online.

It’s hardly an overstatement to say that the pandemic has permanently changed the way businesses operate. A recent IBM survey revealed 55% of respondents made permanent changes to organizational strategy and 64% moved to more cloud-based business activities.

New ideas and business model transformations

Innovation often comes from limitations — and since the onset of the pandemic, new ideas and business  models have blossomed. From telehealth solutions to automated warehouse management, industry-wide disruption is everywhere. The post-pandemic landscape seems a promising ground for business and technology.

Many small and medium-sized businesses too are looking at business and technology solutions to help them with:

1. Gaining real-time visibility into business operations

2. Agility, security, and the ability to build scalable cloud-based platforms

3. Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to drive automation

4. Gaining accessibility from anywhere and anytime

5. Increasing collaboration in a remote and/or hybrid work model

6. Innovating to gain a competitive edge

Today, many organizations view technology capabilities as a strategic differentiator…

Take, for example, the manufacturing industry. The pandemic completely disrupted the supply chain, logistics, and factory labor force. Progressive manufacturing facilities are now investing in sensor-based technology and Internet of Things (IoT) to reduce the number of people on shop floors. The industry 4.0 solutions are geared to deliver intelligence throughout the shop floor operations and increased end-to-end supply-chain transparency.

Rethinking strategy

During the pandemic, good leadership has displayed calm and bounded optimism, effective communication, quick decision making, and the demonstration of empathy. The six key focus areas for business and technology leaders are:

1. Streamlining and simplifying operations

2. Adopting unified and scalable digital solutions

3. Rethinking business models

4. Tapping into hidden opportunities

5. Enhancing customer experience

6. Bolstering corporate resilience

Let us understand each of these six focus areas in more detail.

 

1. Streamlining and simplifying operations

Operational efficiency is critical to the bottom line for any business. So, what does it take for operations leaders to reinvent the way they work?

Regionalization of supply chains and changing consumer behavior are two of the main factors to look at. To complement that, dependence on external suppliers to support internal operations, greater workforce training, and scaling sourcing requirements become a logical next step. Some larger companies have done so with help of a suite of digital and analytics tools and approaches.

2. Adopting unified and scalable digital solutions

The dependence of businesses on technology is clear. From increased remote collaboration to advanced digitization, technology has changed the way organizations function. Whether the digital requirement is transactional, logistical, collaborative, or operational, digital solutions are here to stay. Companies large and small must chalk out their paths to remodel their businesses with the help of technology. Investing in a unified and scalable technology platform allows businesses of all sizes to maneuver through uncertain times and scale up at their own pace. A Deloitte study on role of digital transformation on business outcomes found a direct connection between digital maturity and financial performance.

3. Reinventing business models

There is hope that the world will come to operate as it was in a pre-pandemic era — but we caution you against this false hope. While normalcy will retain, it will not be business as usual. For the sake of convenience, cost-effectiveness, and safety, consumer behaviour has evolved. It’s time to move from response to reinvent mode. Look at the pandemic as an opportunity to reinvent your business and technology landscape. Tap into hidden opportunities such as digitalized offerings of your product and / service or weave your digital strategy around how you can satisfy your customers and target audience by digital means. Draw inspiration from Airbnb, the home rental company, that redesigned its product offerings and survived the pandemic.

4. Tapping into hidden opportunities

Listening to consumers is key.

Smart organizations, including small businesses, have pivoted in their sales by tapping into hidden opportunities: Retailers, grocery stores, and restaurants for example are partnering with delivery agents to support cashless and contactless commerce. Robotics is another untapped opportunity. More and more businesses are now trying to leverage it to fill in the gap of reduced workforce and safety protocol. For example, airports using a robot to spray disinfecting chemicals on their facilities or heavy investments being made in industrial automation and robotics.

5. Enhancing customer experiences

Asking your customers about their challenges is a great way to understand them.

But you could also predict customer behavior. Use advanced data and predictive analytics to foresee consumer behavior. For example, one airline relies on a data-driven system using artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict customer behavior. This airline proactively addresses the consumer’s needs before its competitors, and as a result, will enjoy increased revenue. Businesses that enhance customer experience with the help of technology will be able to conceptualize new product offerings and enjoy a first-mover advantage. To do this, you need to be smart about investing in data, technology, and systems that are required to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

For more, see “How to use data-driven analytics to grow your business”.

6. Bolstering corporate resilience

Since the pandemic first appeared, much has been said on the subject of resilience. Most people think of resilience as the capacity to withstand extreme conditions (e.g., the pandemic). But there is more to resilience. It also encompasses the ability to recover, reinvent, sustain and stay ahead of the competition. Business executives must hold their ground to bolster resilience. Having the right technology is important. It is also important to democratize data across the organization. In the words of Bernard Marr, bestselling author of ‘Big Data in Practice’, “Data democratization means that everybody has access to data and there are no gatekeepers that create a bottleneck at the gateway to the data. The goal is to have anybody use data at any time to make decisions with no barriers to access or understanding,” This approach will enable people across verticals to make informed decisions and build trust.

The future is about breaking down silos and integrating customer experience, business operations, and technology. But to build a more sustainable business model, organizations must invest in sustainability and fulfilling their broader purpose. More than ever, consumers are sensitive about how companies contribute to fight climate change and reduce their carbon footprint.

Getting your organization ready for a digital transformation? Talk to us about your requirements.