COVID-19 has had a terrible impact on the world economy, but we can learn some lessons from it moving forward.
By Andy Braddell
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a brutal period all around, but it’s not without its silver linings. There are plenty of lessons we can take away from this tragedy for our businesses moving forward, lessons that will make our financial and business models more robust in case of any future market collapses.
So, let’s break it down, and talk about a few lessons that ALL businesses can take away from the coronavirus pandemic.
Do Away with the “Globalized Market” Mindset
Sure, we live in an interdependent international economy in the 21st century, and globalization is only increasing. But when it comes down to the wire, when shit hits the fan, so to speak, the world is still a very large, diverse place. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the vulnerabilities and negative impacts that can occur after land borders are closed and private actors began prioritizing national needs over international ones. There was also a massive push for all multinationals to swing nationalistic and prioritize their homelands. When it comes down to it, we still are inexorably tied to our communities. You may be able to ship to Japan in two days, but Japan is still thousands of miles away.
No single company, no single country, holds all the skills, experience, or expertise that can keep up with the 21st-century consumer. The lesson: remember that trading and sharing are critical to promoting a healthy, stable globalized economy.
Identify the Right Platform
It’s all about targeting. It’s all about doing your research and shooting in the right direction. Lots of folks will gripe about how large players can access next-gen tech because they have deep financial pockets, but in reality, if you figure out early on what niche you’re targeting and what platform (and there are myriad in the modern era) serves best to allow you to communicate with your target demographic, you can sidestep financial barricades.
Furthermore, platform thinking can dramatically improve any business endeavour. Eric Porat, an online entrepreneur explained: “Don’t think of your business as providing a simple good or service, think of it as an ecosystem. Many traditional businesses have already proven the value of platform thinking. They’re crafting a veritable ecosystem for their customers, allowing them not only a product, but easy access to receive it, digital ordering platforms, new customization options, social media connections, etc. It needs to be wide-reaching, well-backed. This helps you stay afloat when a disaster like a pandemic disrupts traditional supply lines or customer outlets, for example. Be prepared to roll with the punches.”
Stay at the Customer’s Speed
Every disaster, every crisis, slowly amplifies flaws or loopholes in the system. If a pot has a small crack in it, then it’s dropped off a shelf, that tiny crack will be the first place it shatters. COVID-19 has magnified and accelerated many flaws in modern business systems and structures, but now that we’re on the downhill side of that obstacle, it’s time to look at mending those flaws to prepare for the next “COVID-19”-like event.
Many mid-sized businesses are rushing to go digital, with both customers and employees, while forgetting that digital interfaces are just one single component of agility. Going digital still requires a balance between scale and design, and it intrinsically modifies the way a business operates. It’s not for everyone, and it takes a bit of forethought before rushing to the digital platform.
This is where operating at the customer’s speed comes into play. Understand your customer’s needs, understand their experiences, their desire and position as actors in the market, and you’ll be much closer to operating fast. Exhibit A, schools are rushing to digitize learning before adequate preparations and platforms are developed for tech-based education, leaving many kids retaining less information than they were when using old-school written textbooks. Be at the correct intersections and use the right insights and interfaces to do this. New customer buying habits, for example, are constantly being created. If you’re analyzing these emerging trends and modelling your plan after them, you’ll adjust faster to the industry and be one step ahead of the competition.
Incorporate (or plan for) Augmented Workforces
The concept of humans working alone, without technological assistance, is definitely growing out of fashion. It’s not surprising. Generally, augmented workforces are more efficient. They learn faster and are able to focus on value-adding activities, which are a great boon from a consumer standpoint. Bots and virtual assistants are increasingly performing more and more roles in growing companies, and a recent study shows that nearly 30% of every job in the world holds at least some automation potential in the future. If your business starts implementing plans to increase productivity by incorporating bots and other AI tech, you’ll cut costs, save time, and increase consumer value.
Think About the Future the RIGHT Way
We’re never going back to “business as usual.” Stuff is different now. COVID-19 is going to create permanent changes in almost every industry on the planet. Everyone talks about the future, but most folks aren’t really doing something to plan for it proactively. Even businesses with a ton of capital, who do have methods in play for future endeavours, often don’t target their operations properly.
COVID-19 has given us many clues as to the future of the workforce. More people are going remote, more work is going contactless, etc.
Use this knowledge to stay one step ahead of the market!