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The past year has been more turbulent than most. From setting out strategic business goals to embarking on new personal adventures, plans set out – in all aspects of life – have been well and truly rumbled. However, as businesses try to navigate the choppy waters posed by the pandemic and the changing needs of their people, customers and suppliers, they should strive to take advantage of this window of opportunity by rethinking how they operate.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that disruption is unavoidable. Businesses must factor change into their practices and ensure they can provide business as usual for their customers – whatever is thrown at them. Those who will fare well, if and when we enter another lockdown, will be those that adapted, improvised and overcame the challenges faced by the strict, first lockdown introduced in March 2020, by implementing strategies that were more digital, data-driven and cloud-based.

In the constant state of flux that we now find ourselves, leaders are in a position to outmanoeuvre uncertainty and change by building the competences they wish they had invested in previously, in order to enable more variable cost structures, agile operations and automation within their businesses; all while remaining secure and keeping their customers happy.

Being agile through the leverage of new cloud technologies, and the removal of legacy applications, will be the first and most important factor in the journey to business continuity, wider business transformation and, ultimately, long-term success.

So what should decision-makers have at the forefront of their minds when considering what steps to take next?

  • Migration is key: Gone are the days of fixed on-premise technology. Unless the majority of a business sits in the cloud, leaders will simply not be able to realise the full potential of the company when it comes to efficiency, resilience, productivity and service.
  • Stay secure: Protecting businesses to ensure long term resilience needn’t be difficult or expensive – often new IT infrastructure is not required. Look for weaknesses in the supply chain, counterfeiting and new potential cyberthreats.
  • Partner well: Invest in long-term technology relationships that are right for your business and that allow you to leverage expertise and innovation, which you may not have in-house.
  • Understand customer needs: Always put your customers first. Analysing customer behaviours using the correct technology will be key to building a more personal and less transactional approach to operating.
  • Remember your team: Remote working on such a large scale is new, so monitoring your employees’ mental health, wellbeing and efficiency is critical. Businesses should evaluate how they can make their workforces’ lives easier. Ensuring staff have access to comfortable and ergonomic desk set-ups, organising regular check-ins, social interaction and catch-ups, as well as monitoring how employees are performing against targets and objectives, remain as relevant as ever.

The businesses that thrive – rather than simply survive – in this period of economic unrest will be those that prioritise the customer and implement long-term technology solutions that allow staff to serve those customers to the ultimate standards, whilst doing so more flexibly and more efficiently.