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Lessons from 2020: Embracing Change and Building Resilience

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By Dulles Krishnan, AVP, Salesforce India

It is no understatement that 2020 has forever changed the way we do business, work and carry out our everyday lives. Technology, developed and deployed at hyper speed, has been fundamental to ensuring the survival of businesses of all sizes, shifting essential services online and enabling workforces to work remotely. Whereas some companies may previously have seen digital transformation as a “nice-to-have”, today it is an imperative.

Leadership and resilience have been critical to navigating a year of uncertainty. During the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders have had to adapt their business operations to be more agile and innovative to benefit customers. They have been challenged to get the best out of distributed teams, bringing a new lense to viewing productivity and wellbeing. In addition, the crisis has put to the test companies’ prioritisation of training, up- and reskilling teams. This is particularly important given the rapid changes we’re seeing in the nature of jobs which the digital economy is demanding.

As we look to a new year, capacity to recover and grow amid unfavourable circumstances will continue to determine business success. Leading with a transformative mindset, instilling resilience in our business models and teams and will be critical in future-proofing our companies, careers, and our shared success.

Anything and everything can go digital

Continually, companies must consider how anything and everything can go digital – and how to move fast. Take retailers, for instance. When the pandemic emerged, within days they managed to build queue management apps to help customers enter stores safely. More and more coffee shops and restaurants have set up credit card payment management solutions, enabling customers to prepay before arriving at venues. Others have launched entirely new services, such as delivery andcook-it-yourself meal kits. Listening to customers – and recognising that their behaviours and expectations will always evolve – will help define companies’ digital resilience strategies.

Technology is transforming how businesses engage with customers at any time and from anywhere. Resilience can be found in making customer journeys more connected, by personalising products and services, and embedding innovation into operational models. We’ve seen how Artificial Intelligence (AI) inventions such as chatbots have helped businesses to survive, recover and scale in time of crisis. Assessing performance issues and identifying risks has driven smarter decisions, avoiding hardships for companies and customers alike. Leveraging data insights, boosting collaboration across multiple functions and real time decision making must be top of mind for business leaders as they navigate change.

Embrace Transparency and Empathy

The shift to remote working taught us the power of communicating – upwards and downwards. Consistency in sharing readily accessible information, including what decisions are being made and why, has proved vital to providing reassurance to employees during the pandemic. This radical transparency and focus on trust will only take on more importance as teams become more distributed.

As working arrangements continue to change, to build more resilient teams we need to cultivate a culture that supports employees. Empathic leadership is about more than reading a room; it’s asking teammates how they are feeling, encouraging them to ask for help and to have tough conversations when needed. Refining support through regular surveys can boost morale and productivity, inform business plans and reduce short-term risks. Keeping your workforce safe and easing levels of stress doesn’t just benefit employees – it also better places companies to take care of their customers.

Provide Skilling Opportunities to Succeed

Technological developments and customer demands will together shape the jobs of the future – and the skills that teams need to succeed. As the digital economy continues to evolve, businesses don’t just have a responsibility to provide employees opportunities to retrain and transition their career paths, it’s increasingly within their interest to do so. Prioritising continual learning, inclusivity, and developing a diverse workforce are cornerstones to building a more resilient workforce.

Whilst we cannot predict what the future will hold, it is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic won’t be the last crisis we will face. With leadership and technology, by embedding resilience throughout their operations, services and teams, companies can look to the future with more confidence. Customer-centricity and positive employee experience will show us what it means for companies to be resilient. By equipping employees with the training and skills they need, together we can embrace change rather than fear it.

Innovate with Confidence

The pace at which consumers have adapted new technologies during the pandemic should give companies confidence to step up their digitisation plans. However, whilst the majority (62%) of business leaders we surveyed said that they have accelerated their digital transformation initiatives, two-thirds (63%) of those admit that they still have not taken full advantage of these technologies. It seems that investing in new technologies is one thing. Having the capability to put strategic vision into action is another.

Continually, business leaders must assess their organization’s preparedness to meet evolving consumer expectations and respond to what else the future may bring. Deploying the right technology and infrastructure effectively, they can stay connected with their customers. Committing to purposeful and continual innovation, they will have the confidence to lead rather than follow. With trusted advice on this transformation journey they can come out of this crisis more resilient and relevant than ever.

Lead with Resilience

Whilst the need to digitally transform existed before the pandemic, this urgency to shift online has accelerated at hyper speed. In time of uncertainty, companies willing to step up to the challenge set by consumers, to innovate and lead, will be rewarded. In contrast, those reluctant to do so will put at risk the loyalty of their customers and relevance in the marketplace. Ultimately, they will be left behind.

In the new economy, the digital transformation journey will be shared by companies and consumers alike. Both require solutions to the challenges they face today and resilience in the event to crisis. With trusted advice, they can have the confidence to adapt new technologies, to solve problems and do business with purpose. Getting beyond reopening and recovery, with a transformative mindset they can reimagine their business and opportunities entirely.


If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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