Five strategic priorities to succeed in the new world

Published: Monday 20 July 2020

To increase succeed in the new world, HLB has identified five strategic priorities to unlock business transformation:

  • digital acceleration;
  • workforce transformation;
  • consumer acumen;
  • cost management; and
  • supply chain reinvention.

As we head down a path of uncertainty, the risk of sitting tight and not investing in transformation will decrease company growth or possibly result in lost market share. To maintain competitiveness in the new world, business leaders must adopt greater agility to anticipate change and mitigate its impact. To drive sustainable change in the organisation and re-write the manual, tough questions need to be asked within boardrooms.

At the dawn of the new decade, business leaders could not have foreseen the shock wave called COVID-19 that was about to hit the world. Pre-pandemic, HLB surveyed business leaders from more than 50 countries during the final quarter of 2019. From our findings, economic uncertainty emerged as the top concern among respondents. Today, a new world emerges; a post-pandemic world in which business leaders do not just face the economic down-turn they were anticipating, but a far more disrupted global economy and business environment all together.

How do we navigate this new world? What is the road to economic recovery going to look like? What are the implications for my business? What is the long-term effect on consumer sentiment and behaviour?

While a V-shaped economic recovery would be the best outcome for most, there is the possibility recovery will be more sluggish. Without a vaccine or widespread immunity, there is the risk of a second wave of infections, which could lead to a second decline in economic activity or even another wave of lockdown measures. This is a doom scenario that requires great resilience to weather the storm yet again.

But post-pandemic challenges go beyond economic uncertainty and recovery. There are permanent changes to how societies operate and businesses across all sectors need to pivot and adapt to succeed in the new world. Greater agility is the superpower separating the successful business models from those who will fall behind in the near future.

The pandemic changed the paradigm of competitive advantage. Operational agility, lean supply chains, deep understanding of customers and a high level of remote work readiness are now the key factors to success. This gives smaller, more nimble players in the market an edge over the larger, more established ones for whom change often comes at a slower pace. We believe a growth mindset and greater agility are the key ingredients to success in the post-pandemic world, separating tomorrow’s leaders from the competition.

Technology will play a major factor in enterprise survivability well into the future. Companies that find ways to leverage digitalisation to allow for near instantaneous scalability will be better positioned to mitigate future disruptions. If we learned one significant lesson from the pandemic, it is that we should not attempt to modify our existing business plans, but we should instead re-write the manual on how to do business to ensure sustainability.

Strategies based on binary outcomes — having a widely available vaccine by the end of 2020 or not — are a risky endeavour. Instead, focussing on the areas identified in this report will boost agility and allow a business to pivot more easily when challenging times hit. Failing to transform and move with the changes taking place in the market will result in lost market share and competition overtaking you.

IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN?

If one thing is certain in today’s uncertain business environment, it is that the world will not return to how it operated pre-pandemic. The time is now for business leaders to recognise the need for greater agility to succeed.

To read the full report from HLB, visit: bit.ly/five-priorities.

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Scott Lawrence
Scott Lawrence
Partner
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