Bounce-Back- Ability: How can Companies Thrive in the “New Normal”?
Below we look at what companies need to do in order to thrive in a fast changing economic environment. We also explore the key factors that drive corporate innovation as well three technologies experiencing increased demand in the “new normal”.
Start-up activity often surges during economic uncertainty and technological innovation can be seen to rise. Entrepreneurial individuals and enterprises forge new business models and new industries take advantage of the significant technological shifts. So market changes and crisis can create an economic environment where truly innovative, small companies can thrive.
What about existing companies? There is a lot of talk of how quickly the UK economy can bounce back from the economic upheaval caused by the current lock-down. The pandemic has changed permanently some aspects of the business environment and outlook, so getting back to where they were may not be an option for some companies; they will have to bounce forward.
Companies will need to show resilience but also agility in order to adapt to a “new normal”. Strong management teams and company advisers will be vital for companies to make an accurate assessment of where they are today; what has changed in their respective markets, supply chains and most importantly customer demand. Only then will the company be able to develop a strategy on how to move forward.
Key Factors Driving Corporate Innovation
- Speed – The best companies will react fast, be decisive and agile. They will need to make decisions, track results and then make more decisions. This will be an ongoing process with companies testing customer response quickly and often, whilst keeping an open mind when analysing results. Old, out-dated data will need to be thrown out. To move fast, management teams will need to take more risk by testing new ideas on large groups of customers. Previously insular companies used to internal testing and evaluation from consultants with a focus on not making mistakes, will need take off the hand break and embrace the wisdom of the crowd.
- Cost – Large companies throw a lot of money at Research and Development during good times. Right now, with companies looking to preserve cash, innovation has to be low cost. Companies will need to adopt new technologies to change the way they make existing products in order to fill gaps in their supply chains, or make new products to meet changes in customer demand. Examples might be sales agents utilising Virtual Reality Technologies or 3D cameras to promote products.
- Collaboration – Large companies typically only utilise or licence a small number of the patents they own. In times of crisis, companies open up their patent vaults and start working collaboratively with competitors. A prime example is pharmaceutical companies working together to develop drugs and vaccines to combat the coronavirus.
- Open Source Platforms – Technology companies normally very protective of software, will need to adopt an open-source approach in order to accelerate the changes required to meet new customer demand.
Technologies Experiencing Increased Demand Due to the Coronavirus
The crisis has also accelerated the use and customer acceptance of a number of technologies including 3D printers, drones and e-learning platforms.
3D Printers – Recent weeks have seen high demand for 3D printers as companies look to slash the time from prototype to final product. Hewlett Packard has launched a “3-D as a Service” enabling companies to pay for just what they print and avoid the large outlay required to buy 3D equipment and supplies.
Drones – The proliferation of drones has been long predicted without widespread use materialising. A number of drone companies have raised their profile in recent weeks by stepping up to the plate to deliver test samples and drugs. The current crisis has also changed the public perception of drones with the virus meaning many customers are now much happier to take a delivery from a machine rather than a person. As a result, autonomous delivery is expected to be widespread within the next twelve months.
E-learning – The lock-down measures have enforced the adoption of online learning by universities, schools and students. E-learning platforms have been available for some time and the current experience is clearly demonstrating a number of advantages in addition to the expected limitations. Engagement has always been a major stumbling block. Connecting through a screen encourages “continuous partial attention” and the discipline to pay close attention without distraction becomes increasingly important. Teachers know significant student participation is key to effective learning. New platforms such as Blackboard and Microsoft Teams enable small discussion groups as well as live screen sharing to encourage collaborative work. Once we adapt to the new normal, teaching will have changed and the way we learn will incorporate many of the benefits e-learning platforms provide.
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