I will not mention the term new normal, since its not new and its not normal. It’s the new abnormal or the business as unusual. There were those of us who used Covid-19 as their catalyst for change and underwent a kind of digital transformation in two weeks. Those who moved from “we can not operate our business remotely because of…” to doing just that. Then there were those of us who were there already. It has been interesting to observe those organisations who just got on with their work, and for them it was business as usual, internally, whilst the rest of the world went into crisis.
So, what differentiated these organisations in the latter camp? They tended to be organisations who had an agile mindset or were digitally capable, so why did this make a difference?
An agile mindset bakes flexibility and resilience into the company DNA but this did not make the organisations immune to the effects of the virus. What it did bring about was an innate ability to “cope”, think innovatively and quickly, and adapt. Less agile organisations are struggling to adapt since they are spending all their effort surviving.
Digitally native organisations will have adapted through their use of native cloud technology, already have remote and mobile capabilities and so the switch to lockdown isolation has not caused major disruption to business processes, or lost productivity. With automation replacing many of the manual and paper-based processes, these organisations have enabled their workforce to do more thought-work, which can be done from anywhere. Less digitally enabled companies, with legacy systems sitting in server cupboards and no external access will be clamouring for the return to the office.
So, for those of us who have had to develop a digital transformation strategy in the space of the initial lockdown, how do you turn your new developed skills to good use?
Have those processes that are in business continuity mode really efficient? Could these be automated, to allow more flexible working and remote workers? Has this created the opportunity for innovation in operations?
So this may be the opportunity as it is highlighting the inefficiencies that were covered over whilst in the office, but are stark holes in processes once we are separated to our homes – these areas may be ripe for automation, such as robotic process automation which is relatively easy to implement, with a low overhead for the stretched IT department.
Longer term, these past months may kick start the thinking needed in developing a strategic approach to bringing in new technology.
Alongside this is a rare opportunity to engage with team members, who may now have more time due to reduced commute/childcare/etc. training them in process improvement methodologies and developing that agile mindset, and over time creating more autonomy for the teams to develop their own processes.
It is likely the priorities will be strongly focused on the essentials,
- Revenue streams
- New business channels
But there are opportunities, either with the reset this has caused, the jump-start into digital working or the fact that your workforce is at home thinking about the bigger picture now there is more time for reflection. Either way, now is the time to think medium to long term and how to turn this to advantage.