The pandemic caused by COVID-19 has affected companies of nearly all industries and has put to the test their “anti-fragility” mechanisms. Strategic budgetary and planing processes do not usually take into consideration the emergence of unforeseen external factors and tend to ignore elements of uncertainty. It is precisely in this specific scenario, in which the awareness that extreme events may occur, that the investment in digital and cultural transformation and, therefore, in innovation programs, prove their pivotal role in terms of continuity and as protagonists in the face of competition.
In the last few years, the expression “digital transformation” has become a sort of a fad. Several studies have been carried out, articles, conceptions and buzz words have spread in groups of managers. New company sectors and vacancies have been created, and new skill-building schemes have been sought after. New work-models have been adopted, and discussions regarding corporate culture and hierarchy have been developed. Having connections with start-up companies and accelerator programs has become vital and, having made mistakes as well as having instances of success, corporations have evolved in their internal processes. All of this has occurred in an environment that worked with models of predictability in the world´s political order as well as in times of economic growth. In many cases, something essential was missing: having a clear goal for what the digital would be used for, aligning its principles to a broader strategy and rolling the projects out in a manner so as to transform the results into attainable goals. To make for an even more complex equation, the pandemic has thrown the imperative of having to react fast into the market´s face. Overnight, everybody had started using technological tools that had been available but had not been fully explored, like telecommuting (which had not yet been widely adopted).
Physical distancing has been promoting a familiarization of new concepts. Decisions that had previously been procrastinated, have been made more swiftly. Leaders routinely carry out harmonization of business practices and, culturally, the hierarchy has become more horizontal. Individuals having been given greater power to come up with ideas, test hypotheses and generate results in ways that had not been previously conceived or permitted.
The impact in the logic of consumption has been felt in different ways, depending on the specific business sector and country. Selling has become an even greater challenge. We have noticed an increase in marketing budgets directed to digital channels and a new focus on the primordial interests of businesses and users. Communicating and engaging with the market, having the customer as the true focus of attention, is fundamental. Listening to their immediate complaints and demands, and being able to offer solutions such as quick deliveries and results and, at the same time, having sales and logistics being physically apart has become the golden standard for service providers.
Turning this requirement of immediate results into reality may come from strengthening the concept of platform. It is fundamental to bring together digital, collaboration and creation tools; use preexisting tools, and explore them in novel business models. Such mechanisms may be employed in the present moment as well as in a post-crisis future. Digital, innovation and creation, and collaborative economy concepts can be explored in the perennial search for consistent outcomes:
- Strengthen partnerships and act together with startup ecosystem and/or with partners (e.g. create integrated solutions with your partners and explore distribution channels together)
- Repurpose your current intelligence, digital and/or material assets (e.g. your client base for a specific product can reduce the acquisition costs for the selling of another product).
- Generate content;
- Quick test – doing something is better than striving for perfection (e.g. invest, a little, in previously unexplored distribution channels, and use the lessons as a metric of success);
- Elaborate digital business models for the needs of the market and have, at the same time, the ability to jump-start customers´ assets (e.g. automate analyses and insights in order to improve sales results);
In the post-crisis future we will witness changed habits and new forms for consumption and work that tend to be perpetuated. The constant monitoring of the consumer, and the ability to adapt to new dynamics, together with the reliance o robust processes that back up such models will be fundamental in this moment of crisis management, and will form the backbone of companies when we see an uptake of market conditions.