I don’t want to minimize the severity of the Coronavirus, the pain and suffering by the millions of people that have had the disease, or the feelings of anguish and fear felt by all. While the pain is real, this is likely the start of the single biggest cultural and technological shift that we will see in our lifetime.
I view this pandemic as a mental and physical challenge that is preparing us for the future, much like working out at the health club makes us stronger, healthier, and more agile humans. When you are in the health club stretching and lifting, you can find yourself out of breath and physically exhausted. The next day you feel sore and tired. A few days later, though, you are likely stronger and more resilient. As you continue this cycle of working out and recovery, you find yourself in better shape, able to withstand longer periods of exercise, and experiencing greater health. This pandemic is a societal high-intensity workout that is making us more agile, faster, and able to address the world’s opportunities.
Innovators and entrepreneurs are not ignoring this moment. They are focusing on leading transformative progress that reinvents and enables exponential growth. They are sticking to daily workouts that test the muscle of their technology infrastructure and plans to improve it.
Don’t think of this as optimizing, re-inventing is quite different. What innovators and entrepreneurs are doing is pivoting to create new business models enabled by real-time data, artificial intelligence, and automation. These models are sure to disrupt the centers of economic prosperity, and you can witness the impact in these three areas:
- The disconnected, always-connected worker. The pandemic has forced shelter-in-place efforts to contain the spread of this ugly virus. Almost immediately the entire workforce shifted to working from home (WFH) creating a nation-wide digital workforce overnight. This WFH environment will continue in perpetuity. While we will return to onsite offices at some point, employees will have a choice of where and how they want to work because the WFH model has proven itself effective for both employees and employers.
- The need it now, bulk price, one-at-a-time culture. Due to the isolation and lack of being able to move freely, consumer buying patterns have changed significantly. Consumers have rewarded retailers with online digital channels and logistics that allow same-day or next-day delivery. The current trend is to purchase now and at the lowest volume discount, pushing brand loyalty aside for speed and cost.
- The swipe left or swipe right business partner world. Headwinds and tailwinds are straining the status quo and forcing businesses to rethink their operating models. You will see new operating models that launch unexpected trading partners and ecosystems. Alongside these shakeups, consumerism will transition long-term partnerships to situational or convenient.
Training for Transformation
Real-time data, artificial intelligence, and automation represent the next technological shift. The leaders who pivot and lead transformation will be able to offer data-driven, outcome-based customer experiences and realize significant margin improvements and cash positions.
As William Marcy said, “To the victor belong the spoils,” and the victor will be organizations using real-time data to drive their business margin improvement and growth. To start your transformation, you should:
- Automate to address the changing workplace. With everyone now connected and comfortable with WFH, business processes must be automated. WFH without automation has increased the work week by 20%. Automation and Artificial Intelligence will help streamline routine business processes and return the work week to a more manageable level. The workweek can only be reduced through the proliferation of process automation and machine-led decisioning.
- Realize that predictive offers are table stakes. Using data to anticipate and predict customer needs before they know them locks in customers and attracts prospects. When organizations have predictive tools, they can more effectively plan and predict their supply chain management. Ultimately, predictive tools drive efficiencies and cost management, and these cost savings can be passed on to the consumer or serve as a vehicle for growth and shareholder value.
- Share cross-channel data to strengthen relationships. With new selling opportunities predicted by data, selling will likely be more opportunistic in nature. We’ll see fewer traditional go-to-market channels as partners that can leverage and share data will create new sell-to and sell-through channels, again maximizing revenue.
I still standby my earlier statement that even though the pandemic changed everything, it is preparing us for a better future. We’re putting in hard work now to be stronger, healthier, and more agile. I’m excited and ready—as the best is yet to come.