Critical questions as leaders across all sectors strive to bounce back from the pandemic
We won’t know the full economic impact of the pandemic for several years, but what we have already learned is that, regardless of the industry, the companies that have emerged in a position of strength are the ones that have been able to manage. efficiently data and automate rote processes. .
Yes, the impact of the pandemic has varied by industry. Travel and hospitality saw demand almost evaporate due to travel restrictions, while some manufacturers saw demand exceed supply causing a different but equally serious set of issues. And online sales, already strong, have grown even stronger.
This was the context of a conversation I had recently with industry analyst and CEO of Constellation Research, Ray Wang. We discussed the recent changes leaders across all sectors have seen throughout the pandemic, how technology can help organizations bounce back faster, and lessons from the past 18 months that can help shape the pandemic. to come up. Here are some highlights from our discussion:
It starts with people
Companies of all sizes and in all industries need to recruit, hire and retain great talent and now, thanks to the pandemic, also manage the return of employees on leave. In addition to this already complex situation, virtually every business must also adapt to new hybrid models that allow more flexibility to mix remote work with on-site work.
Clearly, the healthcare sector has been strained. Doctors, nurses, paramedics and support staff were literally fighting for our lives on the front lines. Many healthcare companies have made cloud migration a priority to better support employees and patients, regardless of location.
According to Wang, technology vendors must help these organizations eliminate supply chain disruptions and automate the many routine tasks that medical staff must perform. “Burnout on the front lines is real. Supply chain disruptions were everywhere … There is a need to improve the integration of reporting and analysis at all levels, ”he said.
For this industry, the crucial question is how technology can help organizations humanize digital and augment the workplace so that workers can perform at their best. Tech companies need to help these workers “expand their mission instead of burying them with more work,” Wang noted.
A big part of that effort is making sure these organizations integrate systems across their businesses, automate financial processes, and improve recruiting and succession planning, he added.
Manufacturing needs a data makeover
As noted above, supply chain issues have plagued manufacturers, whether in the beer brewing business or the supply of building materials. Some issues stemmed from their inability to get key ingredients on time, find enough healthy workers to fill key positions, or corral trains to trucks, ships to planes to deliver products to stores or end users. . Overall, the result was the same: major challenges in getting products to customers.
One way to alleviate this problem in the future is for companies to put their data on a unified platform that covers HR and financial information, Wang suggested.
“The digital winners here understand the need for data supremacy, that they need the right information at the right time and put it to work,” Wang noted. “It’s one thing to have data in one place, but if you can’t make a decision about it, you’ve wasted your time. ”
This means that these companies must both have their data close at hand and in order, but also make it available to the right analysis tools. The key question that technology providers need to ask customers is what they need to make their supply chains more resilient.
New retail models emerge
If there was any doubt that a retailer needed a solid online operation, the pandemic has wiped it out. Retailers have accelerated their digital transformations both to better serve customers during the pandemic and to prepare for the post-pandemic world.
Wang said the crisis was a massive accelerator for retail businesses. “Online is no longer a luxury. Everyone realizes that it is a necessity, ”he said.
But what is perhaps less obvious is that online retailers must now focus not only on inventory and online merchandising, but also on more delivery options (door-to-door delivery, in-house pickup. curbside and in store, etc.) that work perfectly. . “Managing this distribution is just as important as having information about your products and your customer channels in place,” Wang said.
Additionally, all retailers should prioritize building subscription businesses in the future and making sure their financial system communicates with their customer service system, he added.
The key question technology partners should ask their retail customers, Wang said, is whether they have the digital and monetization business models in place to support the subscription businesses they’ll need to build. in the future.
Keep the human in mind
Finally, let us never lose sight of the fact that many of our organizations, employees and partners have experienced serious illness or the death of a loved one due to COVID-19. The need for human understanding and patience is greater than ever, no matter what industry we are talking about.
“The biggest thing we need to do right now is focus on empathy. We have to try to understand how to humanize the digital challenges that we have been through, ”said Wang. “People are stressed and at their limits and have been doing it for about a year or more, so we have to start with empathy…. Whether we are building new business models, monetization models, thinking about new regulations, how to think about worker health and safety, we want to do all of this with people in mind. .