Now that most of us are deep into the COVID-19 pandemic, and perhaps see a glimmer of light that lockdowns and a return to a quasi-normal life will happen one a step at a time, our thoughts and longings turn towards the future. One thing is for sure; life will be different.
On a positive note, what this pandemic has revealed is the fragility of human life and global supply chains. Why positive?
There is a mindset reorientation going on that springs from a realization of the interdependence we have on each other. At the enterprise level, the focus has shifted to the well-being of employees and concerns about morale and mental health. Will this concern dissipate as economies resurrect? Getting back to business activities at anything like normal will take many months. The CEO of one major airline commented that routine services are unlikely to be up to pre-pandemic levels for several years. In the meantime, necessity is proving to be the mother of invention, as employee creativity in lockdown is unleashed, and we find new ways to keep the lights of business turned on.
How we work has changed dramatically for many of us, and has highlighted the critical importance of remote collaboration and interaction. Until a vaccine is available, anxiety is likely to persist for several months. Online is so much more appealing than the risk of accidental instore proximity. But until logistics are fixed, next-day, let alone same-day delivery will prove elusive. Thus, we are still forced to run the weekly shopping gauntlet for our essentials, with or without masks.
The human cost reported on the news every day, and the heroics of frontline nurses, doctors, and support workers is a constant reminder of this global pandemic, the astronomical economic costs to businesses, and the loss of jobs. But, again, there is a positive in this all-backs-to-the-wheel experience. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at its April earnings call, “As COVID-19 impacts every aspect of our work and life, we’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” The number of daily users of Teams has jumped from 45 to 77 million in less than a month.
This pandemic is forcing CEOs across all industries to rethink how their enterprises must adapt if they are to bounce back. Resilience, adaptability, speed, and connectedness will be top of mind. Connecting with employees, customers, suppliers, and ecosystem partners will depend on technology and, above all, the underlying data that must be synthesized and flow unrestricted, yet protected, through the veins of the enterprise. Dynamic decisions taken or triggered in milliseconds with the aid of AI and real-time streaming technologies will be essential to deliver relevant responses to individual customers throughout their innumerable and chaotic journeys.
Humans will always be in the loop where relationships are concerned. Trust, reliability, and positive experiences that help customers achieve their desired outcomes represent the antithesis to the self-serving industrial age command-and-control, transactional approach to customers. There has never really been a shortage of technology, just the wisdom to use it and for the right purposes.
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This report was contributed by knowledge partner: