Reimagining business in a COVID-19 world

By : |August 31, 2020 0

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to major disruptions across industries and functions. To ensure business continuity early on, leaders undertook measures to prioritize employee safety, conserve cash, strengthen remote working, and adjust to the new demand and supply situation. Now, as the lockdown lifts gradually and businesses reopen, it’s not just about restoring business to pre-COVID times. It’s about comprehensively reimagining business to win in a COVID-19 world.

To reimagine business, leaders need to start by addressing some fundamental questions around changes in the underlying need for products and services, method of access or consumption, and delivery systems.

Here are some key aspects for leaders to consider while reimagining business:

1. Reassess consumer understanding

The pandemic has led to an evident change in consumer preferences, behaviours, and spending patterns. According to a study, online shopping has grown 60% in some categories in the US.

Furthermore, about 20% of US online consumers have switched brands. This implies that while some products or services may have new takers, others may witness a drop in demand. Historical data about consumer behaviour is a good guide, but the changing dynamics imply an urgent need to reassess consumer definition and understanding.

Start from ground zero – review consumer segments, rethink consumer journey, identify consumers in new geographies, and so on. This will help leaders ascertain who are the new consumers, where are they spending, what do they value, and if they are permanent or just temporary shoppers. The insights will also guide key business decisions such as the need for vertical or horizontal diversification.

2. Rearchitect the business offering

As consumer dynamics change, traditional business offerings may lose relevance. Leaders should reanalyze the business offering to offer products and services that meet existing needs.

Based on the business landscape, leaders could make decisions around repositioning existing products or services or launching new ones. To enhance its value offering to consumers, businesses could also consider partnering with complimentary service providers for mutually beneficial outcomes.

To enable rearchitecting the business offering, revaluating operations and pricing will be key. In operations, leaders may bring in automation in processes, introduce flexibility in work models and consider either outsourcing or insourcing. In terms of pricing, leaders will have to assess what works between subscription or outcome-based models.

3. Redefine consumer engagement

The next normal demands a deeper, meaningful, and sustained consumer connect. Go beyond simply replacing physical interaction with virtual meetings. Take, for instance, during the early e-commerce days, retailers simply listed their catalogues online. Over time, the experience radically evolved to be more interactive, engaging, and exponentially help businesses harness value.

Today, as physical distancing becomes the norm, leaders must innovate consumer engagement to provide a truly meaningful experience. This would entail rethinking communication channels, marketing mix, campaign spends, and measurement as well as rethinking customer acquisition and retention strategies.

4. Re-envision talent engagement

Businesses have been quick to adapt to work from home models and streamline functions such as HR and IT amongst others to support remote working. Now, as businesses reopen gradually, there will be a need to maintain optimal capacity in compliance with physical distancing norms and other safety guidelines.

Some may continue with a 100% work from the home model in the long run, while many would consider a hybrid work from home and office model. There could also be an added need for a flexible workforce structure (contract employees).

Managing talent and effectively building deeper, long-lasting connections with new and existing employees is even more critical. This would require leaders to re-envision the entire talent management journey, from recruitment, onboarding, training, to retaining and measuring productivity.

More importantly, leaders need to reimagine maintaining a uniform work culture for different talent groups such as contract workers, those working from home and others from office. Instilling company values and maintaining a cultural fabric in a world of the modified employer-employee social contract will be critical.

Disruption in the wake of COVID-19 is inevitable. Reimagining business in the face of these disruptions will necessitate careful observation, precise implementation, immediate evaluation, and agile refinement.

  Sunil Mirani, Co-Founder and CEO, Ugam, a Merkle Company

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