Covid-19 has impacted businesses of all sizes, as government lockdowns changed priorities and ways of working overnight.
Understandably, this led many to focus on short-term priorities such as financial viability. However, our research for the recent Vodafone Business Future Ready Report has shown businesses are starting to look at other actions to secure their future; planning for new business practices and even entirely new models for a post-Covid world.
In general, our research showed that businesses think that now is the right time to look at digital transformation and experiment with ways of working. In 62% of cases, budget for this has been protected.
Even industries that hadn’t embraced technology now want to move swiftly into digitalisation.
A ‘future ready’ business refers to those organisations that are most confident and well-prepared for emerging trends, challenges and possibilities.
There are six common characteristics that define them; being adaptable, open to new technology and up-to-date with the latest trends and uncertainties and having a positive attitude to change, a detailed strategy and clear steps towards business transformation.
While much of this investment has been to support employees who increasingly need to work flexibly and remotely. This isn’t the only reason.The crisis has revealed weaknesses in business models, causing organisations to look at internal processes and make improvements, encouraging more experimentation and innovation to drive greater resilience.
One example of this is the supply chain.
When China went into lockdown, the world felt it.
75% of procurement and supply chain professionals say products manufactured in China are integral to their supply chain. In fact, the outbreak of coronavirus has disrupted almost nine in 10 (86%) of supply chains.
To address this and protect against future disruption, many are making changes such as building better relationships with suppliers and using local sources, to help strengthen supply.
‘Future ready’ businesses are taking similar actions, but the difference is their willingness to collaborate with other organisations. And they’re doing this to maintain stockpiles and improve bargaining power with critical suppliers.
Planning is another big differentiator of a FRB. And something that has supported their resilience during recent months.
Our Future Ready Report found many businesses did not have fully documented business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place at the start of the 2020. And this was the case especially in critical industries, like healthcare and logistics.
Having a plan wasn’t seen as necessary. Whereas ‘future ready’ businesses were much better prepared, with fully documented and regularly tested plans.
As a result, while many organisations worked hard to maintain their profits, 30% of FRBs have reported an increase in profits when compared to this time last year.
Able to place less emphasis on surviving and striving for financial viability, FRBs could focus on their employees, customers and even future facing goals, such as innovation.
And having invested in a wider range of technologies to improve areas like innovation, insight, agility of production, and the attraction and retention of talent, 88% of FRBs have seen both a positive impact on productivity and favourable reactions from employees.
‘Future ready’ businesses were also able to look beyond their own organisation.
During the pandemic, many organisations have given back to society.
We’ve seen car manufacturers creating PPE, distilleries making hand sanitiser and fashion brands donating profits to charities and hospitals in need.
And many have been offering more support to their employees as well.
FRBs are leading the way here with 97% supporting their employees further during the crisis, compared to 90% of all other businesses, and 94% taking action to support those outside their business, compared to 81% of all other businesses.
Data has increased in value too.
For FRBs, many were born on the cloud, so they are confident collecting, storing and processing data and are comfortable pulling out the relevant insights to drive better business practices in line with what their customers want.
In fact, 31% of FRBs see themselves as industry leaders when it comes to data handling.Businesses who aren’t comfortable with data will need to adapt quickly or risk falling behind their peers.
While there is still some uncertainty as to how workplaces and working practices will adapt, there is an expectation that there will be increased flexibility. This is both in terms of where and how people will work.
We believe we’re moving into a new era, seeing a massive rewriting of the social contracts between employers and employees, and between businesses and their customers.
We’re just at the start of this new era and it’s clear that FRBs are already leading the way.
To learn more about the challenges organisations are facing and the differentiating attitudes of and behaviours of ‘future ready’ businesses, read the full report.
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