Lessons from 2020: Embracing change and building resilience

February 08, 2021 1:15 AM

In time of uncertainty, companies willing to step up to the challenge set by consumers, to innovate and lead, will be rewarded.

Dulles KrishnanDulles Krishnan

By Dulles Krishnan

It is no understatement that 2020 has forever changed the way we do business, work and carry out our everyday lives. Technology, developed and deployed at hyper speed, has been fundamental to ensuring the survival of businesses of all sizes, shifting essential services online and enabling workforces to work remotely.

Leadership and resilience have been critical to navigating a year of uncertainty. The crisis has put to the test companies’ prioritisation of training, up- and reskilling teams. As we look to a new year, capacity to recover and grow amid unfavourable circumstances will continue to determine business success.

Anything and everything can go digital
Continually, companies must consider how anything and everything can go digital —and how to move fast. Take retailers, for instance. When the pandemic emerged, within days they managed to build queue management apps to help customers enter stores safely. More and more coffee shops and restaurants have set up credit card payment management solutions, enabling customers to prepay before arriving at venues. Others have launched entirely new services, such as delivery and cook-it-yourself meal kits. Listening to customers—and recognising that their behaviours and expectations will always evolve— will help define companies’ digital resilience strategies.

Resilience can be found in making customer journeys more connected, by personalising products and services, and embedding innovation into operational models. Leveraging data insights, boosting collaboration across multiple functions and real time decision making must be top of mind for business leaders as they navigate change.

Embrace transparency & empathy
The shift to remote working taught us the power of communicating – upwards and downwards. As working arrangements continue to change, to build more resilient teams we need to cultivate a culture that supports employees. Refining support through regular surveys can boost morale and productivity, inform business plans and reduce short-term risks.

Provide skilling opportunities
Technological developments and customer demands will together shape the jobs of the future and the skills that teams need to succeed. As the digital economy evolves, businesses don’t just have a responsibility to provide employees opportunities to retrain and transition their career paths, it’s increasingly in their interest to do so.

Innovate with confidence
The pace at which consumers have adapted new technologies during the pandemic should give companies confidence to step up their digitisation plans. Business leaders must assess their organisation’s preparedness to meet evolving consumer expectations and respond to what else the future may bring. Deploying the right technology and infrastructure effectively, they can stay connected with their customers.

Lead with resilience
Whilst the need to digitally transform existed before the pandemic, this urgency to shift online has accelerated at hyper speed. In time of uncertainty, companies willing to step up to the challenge set by consumers, to innovate and lead, will be rewarded.

In the new economy, the digital transformation journey will be shared by companies and consumers alike. Both require solutions to the challenges they face today and resilience in the event to crisis. Getting beyond reopening and recovery, with a transformative mindset they can reimagine their business and opportunities entirely.

The writer is area vice-president, Salesforce India

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