Business operations have suffered in the past year, mostly due to the colossal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As this crisis eases in different areas all over the globe (thanks to the supply of vaccines now), many businesses are in recovery mode and are looking forward to enhanced business operations as they get back fully to work.
In light of this, this article analyzes key business trends driving the future of business operations in the areas of:
- Business planning
- Marketing, and
These areas are key to the sustainability of business operations currently and in subsequent years.
All four areas have taken a significant hit due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, this piece examines how business operations have been affected in these key scopes as well as the roles of business leaders in bringing innovation to scale operations in the future.
Several months back, Gartner predicted that “By 2022, more than 50% of enterprise data will be created and processed outside the data center or cloud.”
One of the major impacts of COVID-19 on work was to accelerate the adoption of the distributed work model. The cloud made it possible to maintain connectedness between multiple employees communicating across distances.
Yet, Gartner’s prediction sets forth an extension of this impact: basically, the omnipotence of infrastructure and data would stretch the abilities of operations leaders to protect critical business resources.
From an infrastructure perspective, this form of decentralization is good as it helps businesses to leverage limited resources.
However, data centralization still has its pitfalls, especially in the SaaS scope, when companies fail to integrate new technologies properly within the existing framework.
Also, it may open up a business to security risks. Therefore, there is greater responsibility on businesses to protect their data and manage access to data and information adequately.
Business Continuity Plan
The current pandemic crisis, which hit the globe with shock just last year, has been a whole lesson in human adaptability.
Every business has a will to continue operations, regardless of internal or external obstacles. The companies that closed business temporarily last year have reopened. Most businesses that didn’t close (particularly large corporations) at all pivoted to adaptable solutions such as greater adoption of remote work, staff downsizing (temporarily or otherwise), revitalizing product offerings, etc.
Operational continuity is crucial to the survival of many businesses. Having experienced first-hand on a global scale the huge impact of external factors on business operations, leaders must be ready to scale up business continuity and contingency planning.
Already, the need for operational continuity is the key driver behind innovations such as automation and virtual services delivery. However, what can be expected in future business planning is a greater emphasis on worst-case scenarios.
This should be approached in a calculated manner, though.
For instance, the odds of a global-level disaster of the scale of COVID-19 are low. Hence, it would do no business well to focus on preparing for worst-case scenarios at the expense of combating present and more realistic, even though less impactful challenges.
The wind of customer-centric operations has been blowing for some time but it has got stronger again.
Many businesses would be trying to recoup the losses from last year by intensifying their efforts at adapting to the market needs of their customers.
The increased virtualization of businesses and service delivery models over the past year means that businesses need to do more to maintain contact with their customers and ensure increased personalization in service delivery.
HubSpot’s Not Another State of Marketing Report 2020 records “Over 60% of marketers surveyed say that their customer acquisition costs have increased in the past 3 years.”
Businesses are also focused on optimizing their customer journey in order to establish meaningful connections with their customers at every touchpoint. Even in conducting effective SEO, paying attention to the ‘rumblings’ of your audience is crucial to achieving meaningful results.
Basically, business today is a little less about the ‘business’ than it is about the brand. That is, it is not mere exchange of value, but building a relationship based on trust that encourages loyalty to the brand.
Remote work has been repeated so many times it has become cliche. So have technological truisms of artificial intelligence and the likes.
Rather, this section examines various predictions for what the future of work would be like. Hopefully, business leaders would be able to arrive at an overarching picture of what to prepare for in terms of how the model of labour now and in the future would shape business operations.
PwC defines three scenarios for the future of work:
- Large corporates turning into ministates and taking on a prominent role in society.
- Specialisation creating the rise of collaborative networks.
- The social and environmental agenda forcing fundamental changes to business strategy.
The report admits, though, that no one of the three models would prevail. Instead, stakeholders within each of the three models would seek opportunities, evaluate market needs, and manage competing demands within each framework.
The increased connectedness of the workforce in most companies means that many leaders would have to restructure their device management policies.
As a McKinsey report says, “Creating relevant policies and having the right capabilities, including both talent and processes, to do so is crucial to… ensuring operational effectiveness.”
Business leaders have a responsibility for the innovation drive in their companies. New business leaders, in particular, have more work to do. These are challenging times to start a business but with strategic thinking, one can hit the ground running and go on to succeed.
IT, business planning, marketing, and work have surely been areas of concern for most leaders over the past several months.
However, with some change in strategy, businesses can enhance their operations for more fruitful results.