As we begin our second month of stay in home orders to prevent the spread of the CoVID-19 virus, what was thought to be an exception period now feels like the new normal. Casual work from homers like myself have now grown accustomed to the same four walls of my office and much greater acceptance of children or pets bursting into the office in the middle of a conference or video call. All of us are fortunate to have a profession that provides the flexibility of performing work at an office or in our home.
Although the virus may have created a new normal, there are some things that have not changed. Improving performance, developing new products and/or solutions and enabling innovation, to name a few, remain key objectives for leaders in the age of CoVID-19. Despite the remote work conditions, it is more important than ever to find new ways to improve, inspire and lead during this challenging time.
With that in mind, I wanted to provide some thoughts on strategies that we at SAP have been leveraging to help organizations focus on Responding, Recovering and Reimagining your business as you consider strategies in dealing with the CoVID-19 virus.
In the United States where I live, we are still very much in the responding mode given the current status of the virus. As a country, we have not hit the apex of the infection curve and are still focused on slowing the spread of the virus, so our healthcare systems are not overwhelmed. Clearly, we need to be focused on responding as quickly as possible with plans and solutions that can be deployed in hours or days for an immediate impact. The plans can target on the spread or impact of the virus including, for example, the emotional impact on our work from home employees. To help companies to respond to the virus, SAP and its partners have provided free access to solutions to help companies respond in a variety of ways. This would include but is not limited to SAP Ariba Discovery, helping companies develop new sources of supply to meet current or future direct material demands or SAP Qualtrics that has developed the Remote Work Pulse Check to allow organizations to survey their employees to determine their emotional and physical state resulting from working from home. These are just some of the ways SAP is enabling organizations to respond to the crisis in the short term.
Next, we need to think about how we will recover from the impacts of the virus. This category targets how we emerge from the effects of the virus and deal with our new norm. Potential timelines for this category would be somewhat longer, one to three months, and enable strategies to help recover from the direct impacts of the virus. For example, how does the organization want to deal with excess or reduced inventories, new demand curves or new product offerings, that require a planning and deployment timeline of less than one quarter. This is a very real scenario for many companies who are looking to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators given the overwhelming global demand. Organizations have or are in the process of shifting their manufacturing operations to produce these valuable materials to recover from the devasting financial impact of the virus. Transitioning an entire plant to produce new materials is not a trivial process and will require significant efforts by the entire organization. Companies will need to develop new product designs, direct material suppliers, quality tests, manufacturing bill of materials and routings and global supply chains in order to successfully transition their operations.
Further, how does an organization leverage contract manufacturers or new employees to increase the capacity for this new product areas? The SAP Ariba Collaborative Supply Chain solution allows organizations to contract third party service providers to assist and/or assume complete control over the manufacturing of a product in either a short- or long-term perspective. SAP Fieldglass would allow companies to rapidly retain valuable labor skills, on a temporary or permanent basis, to help accelerate the production of the new materials. This could be done in conjunction with the contract manufacturers or with an internal manufacturing initiative. Regardless, these solutions will allow your organization to recover quickly and begin to replace the revenue lost during the crisis.
Lastly, we need to continue to think about how companies can reimage their business in new and disruptive ways. This is difficult and, in some instances, may be impossible given other shorter term challenges such as employee safety and stay in home directives, but it’s important to consider how we can digitally enable our processes to disrupt and improve the products and services we provide our consumers, patients and customers. What if, in an effort to accelerate getting people back to work and avoid having to stay at home, a consumer products organization provided a free anti-viral test kit with their electronic thermometer. Demand for the anti-viral testing will be extremely high and the brand would be viewed very positively given its ability to get the economy moving without the risk of additional infections. Further, inclusion of the kit with their thermometer would provide broad based adoption for the thermometers and provide a significant increase in their market share that would have lasting long term benefits for both the consumer and the organization. Reimagining digital disruption remains a critical strategy for any organizations.
In closing, my hope is this blog has provided you with some thoughts on how to approach the new normal that this virus has created. We look forward to the time when we can rejoin our fellow employees at offices, plants and facilities around the world but, until then, stay safe.