The Covid-19 pandemic has hit just about every business across every sector and despite support from schemes such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CIBLS), there is little doubt that things have been incredibly tough.
However, there may be a glimmer of hope at the end of the long dark tunnel. The latest McKinsey Global Survey has suggested that there has been a positive shift in mindset among executives about the longer-term future of their businesses.
According to the survey, which was carried out on 30 September, more than half of the business leaders surveyed said they expected economic conditions to have improved in six months time. This is the most positive response by this group since the pandemic first began to take hold.
That said, there was still a significant percentage of respondents (30%) who expected things to get worse. Greatest confidence was shown by business leaders in China and India, with the most pessimistic outlooks recorded in developing countries. Europe showed a solid 64 per cent of business leaders expected things to either remain stable or improve over the next few months.
Factors relating to Covid-19 that have contributed to feelings of optimism include: better diagnostics, rapid point of care testing and the rapid movement by the pharmaceutical industry in developing therapeutic treatments and vaccines.
The disruption to working practices was also seen to be a reduced threat with acceleration of digitisation of supply chains, customer channels and the increased uptake of AI and automation. Other work force changes, particularly the growth in home-working and local offices are also seen as having a positive impact.
This all leads to the question of how to plan strategically for 2021 and ahead?
There is little doubt that the recovery will be largely digital. It is just a question of how and to what extent companies will turn to digitisation. Certainly, here at Pursuit Software, we invite existing and new customers to come and discuss how we can help them achieve resilience through digitisation.
The other certainty is that businesses will need to show creativity to survive.
With all businesses facing different pressure and challenges, there is no one-size fits all answer. Certainly, when it comes to being creative, a response can come in many forms, from developing a novel product or service to an alteration in a process or even ripping up a whole business model.
Take one example: a 145-year-old family-owned business called Dunn’s Food and Drink, faced losing 90% of its business almost overnight, but was ineligible for government support.
It quickly transformed its traditional business model of selling to the hospitality sector and started selling to the public. To set up a creative response to the coronavirus challenges, Dunn’s developed apps for drivers to help with logistics and facilitate customer orders. A response that would usually have taken months to develop, happened within three weeks.
The company also responded rapidly in reducing its industrial-sized packs – bulk orders of rice, for example, were normally shipped in 25kg sacks. Its creativity did not stop there. Expertise in drinks dispensing was used to develop hand sanitising stations with space for clients’ own branding to support their reopening.
Another company – the Chester Hotel in Aberdeenshire came up with a fun, safe and creative response to social distancing in the hospitality business – by setting up transparent igloos to allow diners to eat outside while observing social distancing.
The lessons here are that business leaders need to be open-minded and prepared to make new connections and explore new avenues. There is also a need to recognise and respond quickly to things that are no longer working.
Creativity will help businesses survive these pressures and secure their place in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.