Photo credit: Olgierd Rudak. The ability for your business to pivot, be flexible and adaptable with your business model, and embrace technology will be keys not only to surviving the current crisis, but for thriving in the future and crisis-proofing your business.
Brick-and-mortar companies whose model is showing-up-to-shop, showing-up-to-eat, or reporting-to-an-office are all being faced with the survival challenge of a lifetime. Some are adopting hastily-crafted plans for delivery, curb-side pickup or online ecommerce, and then are being faced with the new challenges those new models bring at a time when another challenge is the last thing they need. The remainder are the very unfortunate whose situation necessitated they close their doors, at least for a while. Retail darlings without a strong online presence like TJ Maxx are bearing the brunt of this as detailed in a recent Blooomberg Wire article.
Others have been able to leverage technology to allow back-office staff to work from home while shop floor and warehouse personnel continue to keep the lines running and the products shipping. But even this hasn’t been without its challenges – visibility into the supply chain from afar, computing infrastructure located at the office and in need of maintenance, how to get payments to suppliers, cash from customers and paychecks to employees, when printing checks and opening mail has always been the norm.
Our social world is connected, almost painfully so it often seems. We have been transformed from a society of pay-phone using, snail-mail sending, go-to-the-bank, grocery-store-shopping humans into a don’t-give-it-a-second-thought calls/texts/posts out the wazoo, email-using, online-banking, fresh-delivery society. So then why is it that the overwhelming majority of small businesses are still only structured to do business one way, the old-fashioned way, the same way they’ve always done it? Advising organizations to take the digital transformation plunge is a big part of what we do.
Brick-and-mortar survives in the future by transforming into a brick-and-click model. Old-line manufacturing plants and distribution companies survive in the future by embracing automation, both inside their organization and with their customers and suppliers. These organizations must embrace digital processes and connections to replace hand-written, hand-entered and hand-mailed. They must collect and place a high-value on data – gaining real-time insight into product lead times, customer buying habits and employee satisfaction.
Those that survive and thrive in the future will bring the connectedness of today’s society into the workplace, within their organizations and externally with their customers and suppliers. And for goodness sake, you can’t do any of this if your infrastructure is sitting in a cool closet on the third floor with cables strewn everywhere, looking like the California freeway system.
Embrace the cloud. Embrace connectedness. Embrace automation. And embrace the idea that tomorrow’s winners will be winning in a brand new way.