Succeeding In The New Normal: What African Businesses Must Implement
The post-Covid 19 business landscape will be characterized by lots of dependence on digital channels and new customer behavior realities. Businesses looking to succeed in this atmosphere must be able to carefully analyze this new landscape to discern factors that now drive buying decisions and be willing to move quickly to create the best experience for customers as they navigate through multiple digital tools in communicating with their preferred brands. Recovery will be possible but most likely slow.
Revenue growth will not be even across industries as some sectors will likely experience high demand and a constant spike in revenue while some others will have to struggle to maintain precrisis revenue goals.
By studying select business organizations around the globe that have already started experiencing a recovery speedily, we are able to provide companies with strategic insight on how they can best position to accelerate growth and return to some semblance of full speed. Here are some of the steps we recommend:
Optimize Digital Channels
One major downside of working remotely is that most times confusion and uncertainty can arise because one is isolated from the rest of the team unlike when in a physical working environment. To ensure that this is avoided, companies considering the option of remote working must, first of all, ensure they set up a structure that will enhance decision making and facilitate effective communication. One way to achieve this is by grouping employees into small teams with a clear objective and channels of communication that can help employees effectively implement their tasks and respond to directives. The right work structure also helps them identify who to receive guidance from and report to about specific issues.
Leverage AI and New Customer Data To Improve Business Operations
Business leaders must begin to put the right tools in place that will help them identify the new changes in the needs and behaviors of their core customers. By setting up agile teams that implement specific activities that can track customer behavior as they interact with your business, much progress can be made in a short time and significant information gained about new customer behavior and needs. Companies can also leverage other data sources like trends, key word search results, abandoned carts, website open rate/visits and similar indicators to build up their data on new customer behavior. As companies begin to gather data on customer behavior, they must also ensure analytics tools and models are updated with present peculiarities in cases where applicable. For instance, some forecasting models depend on factors like unemployment and oil prices to make its analysis. Such models will need to be restructured considering the fact that those factors have changed from what they used to be.
Invest In Digital Upskilling
Most business leaders will be faced with a huge skills gap as companies are quickly transitioning to remote working. Though the sudden switch to remote work was necessitated by the pandemic, it also revealed that majority of employees are unprepared for the digital revolution. As businesses increasingly embrace digital, they will have to equip their employees with the skills needed to deliver in such a setup. This becomes very necessary if companies are looking to rapidly recover revenue and deliver on business objectives. Identifying the critical areas where the necessary skills are lacking and investing in upskilling and reskilling programs to fill the skills gap will prove helpful at such a time as this. Because the skills gap is quite wide, most organizations won’t be able to meet up with its skills demand by just training employees alone they will need to hire additional talent at some point. Understanding which particular competencies to look for while recruiting is very critical. Companies need to work with their HR lead to identify the specific skills that they fall short of and develop best practices for spotting and hiring the best talent available.
Adopt A Startup Mindset
The present realities facing companies do not permit for traditional thinking patterns and old ways of making decision. Because of the rapid change in the way business is conducted across several industries and sectors, it is crucial to restructure processes so as to allow for rapid response to changing behaviors and quick decision making that will match up the right answers to unprecedented challenges at record time. Most companies will need to adopt agile thinking methods and fast track decision making across their organization. At this point, it is critical to merge top talent with top executives in other to allow for decisions on critical issues to be made quickly and implemented at the same pace. Agile thinking is crucial for any company that seeks to survive this current crisis and quickly recover from its effect. Companies should adopt operating models that include Test – Learn – Implement and develop a culture that favors action over research. This agile method must be centered on advanced analytics and data-backed decisions.
Align Investments Against New Opportunities:
A lot has changed since the crisis started. Many businesses have been hit and are forced to innovate their business processes and models. The business landscape withing the African continent has been significantly altered to certain new realities. Oil prices have deepened within this short period and this has led to alternatives being adopted. Companies are rethinking supply chain strategies and structures. Conversations about full digital setups have been the focus amongst most business leaders. With all these going on, it is important for business leaders to monitor how these changes will affect their business. They must also begin planning on how to recoup revenue. This might require reassessing the viability of some previously relevant investments to ascertain their continued relevance and quickly decide on which ones to discontinue and where to quickly invest resources in order to better position for the next phase. For instance, JUMIA recently invested more funds to improve its logistics and delivery structure across different African countries where they operate. This move was necessary to help them a better position to deal with the increased demand that they are facing at the moment.
Redesign Your Value Proposition to Match New Reality
Customer demands has experienced a significant change withing the past few months. What most people define as value now is not what it used to be. Most consumers are faced with new challenges that are redefining their perception of value. Due to social distancing policies and increased work from home setups, customers are adopting new ways to shop and engage with their favorite brands. Businesses must learn what constitutes great customer experience within this new framework and redesign their value proposition to reflect the new realities. Several agile companies are quickly learning what their customers want and tweaking their setup to fit new customer needs. Some airlines are promoting the concept of contactless travel to their customers who are increasingly conscious of their safety. Delivery companies are also encouraging customers to keep shopping by promoting no contact delivery options. Most retail fashion brands have setup ecommerce stores in other to maintain sales and provide their customers with a ready assortment of their collections during the lockdown.
No matter what your offering is, it is crucial for companies to redefine their value proposition to keep in pace with the changing demands of their customer base.
As the crisis begins to abate, companies must quickly rethink their business model as they gear up for speedy recovery. They need to make those decisions that can help them position for the long term and ahead of their competition. From fully embracing critical digital setup to effectively designing better customer journeys, companies can strategically prepare themselves to thrive in a post-Covid- 19 environment.