Change is constant. But the changes that have happened over the past two years rival even those witnessed during some of the UK’s most turbulent and evolutionary times.
For businesses, flexibility and agility are key in overcoming these issues and others that may arise in the future. By enhancing resilience and meeting the current challenges head on, companies can achieve sustainable growth and can be more successful than ever.
Post-Pandemic Business Has Changed
The Covid pandemic and its associated lockdowns, followed by significant supply chain disruptions and most recently the Russian invasion of Ukraine have together plunged the UK into an economic and cost-of-living crisis of major proportions.
The pandemic radically changed how and where consumers shop. They expect more – more choice, faster delivery, free returns. Although paradoxically, they now have less money to spend. The last two years have also seen new ways of conducting business – virtually, via conference calls and remote demonstrations. And we’ve seen changes in the way we work, with more home and hybrid working.
We have firmly become a digital-first society and economy. To succeed in this environment, companies need the agility and flexibility to react quickly to adverse situations, or better still, be proactive enough to anticipate them.
What Does Agility and Flexibility Look Like?
You may have robust operational plans in place, but rigidly following them when the landscape changes does not guarantee success. You have to build in enough flexibility in case you need to adapt and change. You may find you have to rapidly adjust your plans, your pricing, or the channels you sell through. Some companies have even had to change their entire go to market strategies to see them through the current tough times we are experiencing.
Of course, the Covid era has brought both winners and losers. Technology companies including Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft have all seen their market value grow since early 2020. And – until the cost-of-living crisis started to bite recently – streaming services and other leisure-time subscriptions that helped those at home get through the pandemic were also doing very well.
Restaurants and food businesses that quickly embraced online ordering and home delivery were able to continue to sell while many of their offline-only peers ended up going bust. Independent hospitality outlets suffered greatly – with 5,000 bars, pubs and restaurants closing in just the first year of the pandemic. But some of the big retail chains – including Zizzi, ASK and Pizza Express – closed some locations for good too.
Other industries didn’t fare well through the pandemic either. Airlines, hotels and hospitality venues saw their revenue plummet overnight. They were unable to adapt to offer anything other than their core business and had to rely on government assistance to survive.
McKinsey is predicting a ‘once in a lifetime’ wave of spending on capital assets by 2027, with around $130 trillion of investment in capital projects aimed at reducing carbon impacts and renewing outdated infrastructure. This is expected to stimulate short-term growth, but only those with efficient supply chains and flexible operations will be able to capitalise on it.
If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that, in future, the successful companies will be those that are agile enough to flex and pivot. By adapting to further potential upheavals, they can transform their businesses enough to take advantage of other opportunities.
Data Insights Provide the Impetus for Agility and Flexibility
During uncertain economic times or an unfolding crisis, you and your leadership team must be able to rapidly identify trends and patterns so that you can make important decisions about the trajectory of your business. Identifying when to stick to a course of action and when to change it means having excellent data analysis and insight.
Business intelligence can help you to navigate the fluctuating economy and institute operational changes. You will be able to keep pace with customer needs, optimise for seasonal trends or cope better with negative economic impacts, like inflation. Additionally, data can endorse the taking of calculated risks that see you make the best of any opportunities presented. This might mean adjusting your pricing, or scaling back your offering, or even shifting your sales distribution mix to favour another channel.
To prove the validity of your proposed strategic change, you can model different scenarios in your financial software. You can do this quickly, which help you reach firm conclusions about how your company can maximise the opportunities from any given situation.
Taking advantage of ways to change with the environment will give you more competitive advantage and ensure sustainable growth and continued business success.