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Coronavirus impact: Capitalize on the new-normal; digitalize and capture market share from laggards

Arthur D. Little’s report “Leading businesses through the COVID-19 crisis: First learnings from Hong Kong, Italy and Singapore” available online, covers insights from a series of 25 interviews with CEOs and business leaders from top companies in the telecoms, transport & travel and utilities sectors headquartered in Asia and Italy

Move fast, assume the worst, be comprehensive, and secure employee safety and commitment first Create separate A and B teams for critical operations, support suppliers and ecosystem partners Start realistically planning for recovery now, and take advantage of potential opportunities from the “new-normal”

With an intent to facilitate wider knowledge sharing towards combating the crisis effectively, global management consultancy Arthur D. Little (ADL) was one of the first consulting firms to share leadership insights from their interviews with 25 global CEOs in markets impacted by the crisis early on, that is, Hong Kong, Italy and Singapore. 

These CEOs were identified across key sectors such as telecommunications, transportation and utilities that deliver critical infrastructure services, and in fact their role becomes even more pronounced in times of such crisis.

The report identified five areas of focus for all CXOs and business leaders:

  • Move fast, assume the worst, be comprehensive, and secure employee safety and commitment first and operational continuity next
  • Be prepared to spend most of your time on employee communications, focus on positivity and morale, and listen as well as talk
  • Create separate A and B teams for critical operations, support suppliers and ecosystem partners, and be innovative with cash management
  • Collaborate with government and authorities, engage with unions, and support local communities
  • Start realistically planning for recovery now, and take advantage of potential opportunities from the “new-normal”

Read: Product Resilience Through Uncertain Times

A month after the report’s publication, while the pandemic expanded its geographic focus from Asia to Europe, North America and now Latin America and Middle East, the learnings shared have held strong ground. Arthur D. Little believes that while the Covid-19 pandemic has created a deep crisis for both global and national economies, it has accelerated progress along some key business imperatives that CXOs and shareholders universally strive for, by providing the required evidence during the lockdowns, as if coming from one large-scale and controlled social and economic experiment.The sudden and strong push for virtualization of the work environment has unlocked new efficiencies creating significant cost savings for businesses.The requirement to develop new remote products and services given step changes in customer adoption of online services reduced the time-to-market. The need for quick action during the crisis improved agility and responsiveness of organizations,simplifying the decision-making and delegation processes.

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Additionally, Arthur D. Little believes that CXOs and business leaders should leverage the disruptive nature of this crisis, which can in fact lead to transformation, even elimination, of not only individual companies but overall industries, creating new playing fields and changing rules for existing ones. The previous competitive advantages might not hold in the “new-normal” world.

“Companies that were able to spring into action quickly and kick off full scale crisis management plans, already started realizing these imperatives within weeks. Going into the new-normal, as these imperatives become part of business-as-usual, it is critical that more businesses are able to deliver on them” said Thomas Kuruvilla, global board member and managing partner of ADL Middle East. “Digitalizing and updating the overall business model across the value chain has reduced the cost significantly – up to even 50%. Companies that embrace the new business model will surely gather profitable market share from the laggards. Digitalization being a key underlying enabler for these changes, would also imply that majority of the repetitive or lower-end tasks will get automated requiring a corresponding shift in jobs to be done by people, towards higher impact and value-adding activities.Putting people ahead of profits should be the new north star for businesses. As most people across organizational levels would need to assess situations and make rapid judgement calls, companies that will focus on re-/ up-skilling their employees as well as retaining them can come out from this crisis, stronger and better positioned to lead in the time to come.”

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For further insights related to the COVID-19 crisis, please refer to the following links: