From Formula One to football leagues, from local council services to enterprises and startups, every company and organisation is looking at how to restart their business in the post-Covid era. Taking advantage of these ways to boost your business prospects and get a head start on rivals, using your skills, technology and the tools to work smarter.
The coronavirus has had a massive impact on business and society, but for business leaders, once the health battles are over, the focus is on bringing companies from the smallest to the largest back up to strength.
During the virus, many will have been surprised at the resilience, flexibility and willingness of workers to learn new ways to do their jobs. Others will have found that their old processes were not amenable to any disruption and need to be revised in the fresh light of day.
The crisis has also taught us that relying on one or two metrics is not a helpful way to run a business, and many companies find they need a more complete view of the business to run a reactive and strategic management team. All of these lessons need to be learned by the surviving businesses to adapt to the changing landscape ahead.
1 – Funding and innovation
Most governments at national and local levels have grants, loans and other schemes to offer companies a route back to normal services. There are plenty of other investment options, even as the venture capital markets have seized up, from seeking private investment to partnering with former rivals or aligned companies to build robust alliances.
Companies can also look to sell off non-core business units or IP assets to free up cash. Or, if another company is trying to buy yours out, seek to defend by hiring strategic talent or assets to boost the value or strengthen the company’s reputation brand. These activities generate market interest and can trigger other investment opportunities that you might have been unaware of.
2 – Boost and engage with your supply chains
Supply chains have faced all kinds of pressures during the crisis and the next few months is the perfect time to engage with existing and new supplier options. See how you can work together to ensure supplies and provide mutual support from pragmatic financing, valuable competitive intelligence data and advice for each other. Plan how you would cope as demand fluctuates and how you would respond in another crisis.
Building good, stronger and new relationships with partners will be key to maximising supplies, especially as suppliers and shippers turn against those firms trying to play hardball or bully their suppliers in the aftermath of the crisis.
3 – Running IT smarter and cloudy
Your IT may have creaked its way through the crisis or your business might have had to improvise to keep teams and leaders talking and operations going. Either way, now is the perfect time to look at adopting smarter workflow-based systems, and cloud operations that make it easier for people to work remotely, with the crisis giving a substantial boost to cloud providers.
Legacy desktop-based and local server systems still dominate many businesses’ IT thinking, while many non-technical smaller firms might not understand the benefits of cloud, or still worry about security and privacy. All of these issues have been resolved and most providers deliver on their 99.9% uptime promise (otherwise the millions of happy business users wouldn’t rely on them).
Use an IT-savvy partner, specialist provider or set up an in-house team to see how your business can move to more efficient services, while migrating existing data and tools. These can save substantial capital costs and provide business leaders with a better view of the company through modern dashboards among many other benefits.
Remote working tools like Slack and Google Docs can provide dashboards or other ways to monitor task or production progress, while providing all the collaboration tools people need across timezones and multiple projects.
4 – Promote remote working
One positive from the global shutdown is that it has proved that many roles can work from home successfully. The tools have long been available, but corporate intransigence or tradition has mitigated against progressive working practices.
Now we all know it works in practice, most businesses can promote it as a perk or benefit, or drive their business forward with remote workers from around the world, depending on the need. Just remember to apply the appropriate security measures and tools, and train people in best practices to keep their minds on the job. See Slack’s report on remote working for examples and benefits.
5 – Start using chatbots and AI earnestly
Chatbots have been the secret weapon of a few brands, but most businesses isolated them to trials or niche projects, partly due to a lack of understanding of AI and the limited nature of early efforts.
The Covid-19 virus demonstrated them as fit-for-purpose when dealing with large numbers of queries, sharing vital information widely and engaging with customers to explain a fast-moving situation.
Modern bots can engage with a massive audience in multiple languages, providing mixed media, links and perform searches to find better answers. They are easy to develop and deploy, with cloud tools like SnatchBot. Smart bots using AI can teach themselves the best answers to user questions and provide vital live feedback on a situation or about how a product or service is received to the business through analytics.
Among these solutions are ways that any businesses leadership can look to as part of the route back to normal operations. At every point of the relaunch, it makes sense to analyse if other parts of the business structure or processes can be modernised to help improve how people work and to make them more flexible to avoid future disruption.