Future-proofing your business to be resilient in the new normal

Organizations across all industries are on high alert: every business sector has been significantly impacted by COVID-19 and all are working to remain resilient. What actions should you take to become future proof?

We address these important issues in our recent webinar: Becoming risk resilient to future-proof your business. We outline five areas companies need to manage effectively in their attempts to remain resilient when emerging from the pandemic.

1. Companies need to put customers in context. This means understanding how customers have changed, how the ongoing crisis has affected them or what things have become more important to them. To do this you need to ask some questions: has how they consume changed, is their budget different and how do they expect to interact with you?

2. There is the changing nature of the workplace itself. Millions of people are working from home to help prevent the virus spreading. Companies have had a crash course in mass remote working and widely deployed enhanced collaboration tools, technologies and processes. What does this mean for the new workplace, as conditions change? Cybersecurity will also need to be further prioritized and adapted to address these new ways of working safely.

3. Competitiveness is another challenge. How do you stay competitive in this new world, can you spot disruptors that might seek to challenge you, and what are your relationships with customers going to be like?

4. With revenues and margins plummeting during the crisis, cost pressures on IT will increase. Technology and IT departments will be asked to find short-term cost-reduction opportunities to mitigate those effects.

Many organizations are going through some sort of digital transformation but need to find the right balance between low-cost options and premium services and solutions. You need to ensure you have the right experts in place, and if you have skill gaps, how do you fill them? Further to this, for your digital transformation to advance as you want, you also need the right suppliers and partners in place, which means extending your ecosystem for even further collaborative value.

5. Financial shifts and spending limitations are also a challenge and can even lead you to question if you have adequate business models in place or whether you might need new ones.

According to Peter Schwartz, Futurist and Senior Vice President at Salesforce, “Leaning into uncertainty is one way leaders can prepare for the next normal. We have a unique opportunity to learn from this pandemic and intentionally design a better future.” This all means we need to rethink what constitutes a resilient organization ready for future sustainability.

Return and reimagine

McKinsey has spoken a lot about the “5 Rs on the path to the next normal” in a post-COVID-19 world. Business is now at the “return” phase, and there are a number of issues they need to address.

Companies need to evaluate if the supply chain they have in place now is resilient enough for the future. Also, with COVID-19 adversely affecting countries differently, is the supply chain actually working across all territories? Companies are assessing what digital and physical assets they have in place and whether the platforms they’re using are again suitable for powering resilience.

Scaling back and cost control are two other areas of focus in the return phase. C-level executives are reviewing what resources and personnel are in place within the organization and what they might need to drive resilience and scale operations again on the upslope. Costs need to be controlled simply because of the overall impact of COVID-19 on businesses. What short-term cost reductions are available to mitigate its impact in the return phase but not adversely damage future plans?

The next stage after “return” is “reimagine.” Your company has had the disruption, and now it’s time to reimagine what your organization might become. The most resilient organizations share some similar characteristics, as described below.

An agile and learning organization

To drive resilience, companies need a deep pool of related skills in specific fields that are also able to collaborate across disciplines. The right skills across the organization set you up for evolution. Looking forward, companies need the “T-shaped professional”: depth of related skills and expertise in a single field married to the ability to collaborate across disciplines. This calls for a deepened focus on training and user adoption.

Key enablers include fostering a culture of business intelligence and continuous improvement, addressing new regulations in and around the office and driving differentiating co-innovation with partners.

Furthermore, you need to deploy and leverage data analytics to ensure your company is progressing. New ways of working mean new tools and types of data, perhaps based on working from home efficiency, for example, and you need to gather all that information and make decisions based on it.

Being resilient now will require remote working and continuous collaboration on a global scale. This means more cloud connectivity and more secure, remote access. Desktop as a service (DaaS) may come in, as will new ways of enabling workers to collaborate together. How do you enable teams to work in smaller clusters when they were always used to working face to face?

Customer-centricity and brand empathy

Companies need to move to a different customer journey, as contact-less business sustains, by implementing order-to-cash and omnichannel solutions. Quick-win, human-centered initiatives can enhance your offering and make you more resilient. These include looking at your contact center: if you have an on-premises contact center, maybe you should begin migrating to the cloud so that it frees up your workers to work from anywhere. This drives greater resilience by having a dispersed workforce.

Analytics are essential in improving customer experience, and if you now have new customers or different customer profiles to satisfy, finding out what they want and expect in real time is paramount for competitive differentiation. Artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots can power your omnichannel communications to streamline client engagement and give customers quick, effective customer service responses.

Cost control and intelligence

Resilience right now is primarily about driving increased business efficiency and adjusting rapidly to mitigate the impact of a situation like COVID-19 and help companies bounce back quickly. Enterprises must determine what assets the business has (such as data, inventory, partner ecosystems, and various platforms) and what new business models they should develop to capture revenue.

Investing in innovation can help control costs and improve visibility, so too can creating economies of scale in infrastructure management. As-a-service models that give you the tools you need for improved granularity of service consumption and the ability to deliver on a pay-as-you-go basis can be a big benefit here.

Security and privacy by design

Too many organizations still look at security from a siloed perspective rather than a holistic one. According to EY, only 36% of companies consider cybersecurity at the planning stage of a new business initiative. Security by design requires everything to be connected together, not left in silos.

This is a great time for business continuity and disaster recovery refresh. What do our continuity plans need? Is there a better way to analyze our security posture? Security training and awareness should be at the forefront of everything you do. Navigating the new cyber threat landscape means managing the increase in data and compliance requirements created by the new customer journey and remote workforce.

Now is an appropriate time to look at the digital foundations built under duress during our rapid responses to COVID-19 and assess how to leverage them for sustainability and growth. Orange has the expertise and digital know how to help companies lean in, plan effectively and stay resilient now and in future.

To learn more about how organizations can best prepare themselves for resilience in the next normal, listen to the Orange Business webinar: Becoming risk resilient to future-proof your business.

Rob Mello
Rob Mello

As Head of Strategy and Transformation, Americas, Rob is responsible for defining, communicating and ensuring delivery of the Americas offering portfolio and regional transformation strategy by orchestrating key programs to enhance the ecosystem of resources, partnerships, capabilities and credibility to the market. He specializes in managing and growing client relationships, selling innovative client solutions, developing service offerings and leading teams in the deployment of capabilities for competitive advantage.