As organizations emerge from the shadows of the COVID-19 crisis, many are wondering which changes they made during the outbreak will stick in terms of how they get things done and accomplish work. Are all the solutions they put in place “enduring or just band-aids?”
It is still too early to really know, but here are several trends and lessons learned that can make a difference moving forward.
As the need for human workers challenged the continuity of many business processes, companies will try to adopt more automated and advanced technological solutions to mitigate the risks they faced during the pandemic. Forbes has outlined several technologies that will be on the rise.
- Cloud technology – Remote work, video conferences, virtual spaces, remote monitoring, online education and telehealth are all possible because of the cloud. It allows flexibility to scale computing capacity on demand with centralized management and fast data backup and disaster recovery. If companies have not already made the move to cloud technologies, they will accelerate implementation or partner with a managed services provider as part of their digital transformation journey.
- Workforce mobility technologies – Mobile apps will help employees access corporate services anytime from any place in the world., Videos will become a major communication medium providing remote connection and continuous data transfer to enterprise apps. More apps will use video functionality to process and analyze data received from multiple sources. Robotic process automation and artificial intelligence will impact direct sales, equipment production and maintenance. The need to replace people in many business processes will push businesses to consider similar emergency scenarios in the future and automate certain operations to rely on AI, which is always accessible. In addition, augmented analytics implementation will automate decision-making for specialists who oversee important business operations speeding up operations and excluding bias and human errors.
- Smart infrastructure – Internet of Things for smart spaces and smart cities will focus beyond comfort control to real safety. Air quality, CO2 and temperature control will be used to provide 24/7 security in environments where people spend most of their time, especially considering the possibility of a massive shift to remote work. Edge computing will bring computation and data storage closer to the devices where they are gathered to increase network performance, speed and security.
Organizational Culture and Behavior
In a thought-provoking article, “Reimagining the Post-Pandemic Organization” [McKinsey and Company], the authors explored the impact of what management teams learned during the crisis outbreak and what they could do to move faster and be resilient.
Fast Reflexes – On one hand, some organizations rose to the challenge by making radical changes in how they get things done. Amid the fear and uncertainty, people were energized as organizations made good on purpose statements, eliminated bureaucracy, empowered previously untested leaders with big responsibilities, and “turbocharged” decision making. Examples included:
- A fast-food chain that had to shutter its operations avoided layoffs by partnering with a health and wellness retailer, thus helping the retailer meet spiking demand in a newly designated “essential business.”
- One large retailer dusted off a pre-pandemic initiative to launch a curbside-delivery business. The work plan said 18 months. When the lockdowns hit, it went operational in two days.
- A financial-services company transitioned more than 1,000 of its global operations staff to work-from-home arrangements, equipping them with new technology within 72 hours to ensure business continuity.
Bogged Down – Other organizations, however, were alarmed to discover they could not move quickly to make changes. They felt too bureaucratic, too insular, too inflexible, too slow, too complicated and often more focused on profit than on people. Without being able to pivot operations and reallocate resources swiftly, they did not like what they saw about themselves and how they operate.
The McKinsey article recommended several principles that can guide people in times of chaos and uncertainty.
- Know who you are and what you stand for as a company. This is your “North Star” in making the tough decisions and getting everyone lined up behind you to move forward with a sense of unity. Beyond simply making money, people and organizations are interconnected and responsible to one another and to society in ways beyond short-term earnings. Organizational culture may seem invisible during prosperous times, but in moments of crisis, its presence can be seen clearly in the collective behaviors that either help a company pull together and get things done or lead to inertia, confusion and even mistrust. Become intentional in your purpose.
- Move beyond a hierarchy of “bosses.” – Companies that viewed hierarchy as the only way to map and structure formal relationships – or the only way to get things done – found the current environment paralyzing. By flattening the organization and drawing on people from different functions, decisions can be more flexible and implemented faster. Unleash the power of your teams to take ownership and be productive.
- Turbocharge decision-making – In times of crisis, leaders discovered they can make faster decisions even if they do not have all the information. The important thing is to make decisions and go. You cannot afford not to move. Bold experiments and new ways of working are now everyone’s business. Empowerment and speed are the new mantra.
- Treat talent as your “scarcest” resource – Why should leaders pay more attention to talent right now? Because forward-looking companies know that everything else—such as technology, access to raw materials, intellectual property, and customer relationships—is fleeting; and the only sustainable advantage is rooted in harnessing the passion, skills, capabilities, judgment and creativity that people bring to work. As unemployment climbs due to the pandemic lockdown, people are your most precious assets. Talent should underpin every strategic choice and other business decision you are making right now.
Are you prepared to pivot operations and reallocate resources swiftly during the next crisis? Let us help. Download our free Managed Services white paper to learn more. Or contact us to schedule consultation with one of our experts.
Mike Penn joined Magna5 as Senior Content Developer. His role is to bring to life stories that inspire or inject clarity in how managed services and emerging trends can be applied to help organizations operate better and more efficiently.