The year 2020 is the year to be remembered.
Nobody had expected a health pandemic with global scale proportion. When lives are at stake, human banded together to suppress infection curve from claiming more lives. As in middle of October 2020, 38 million people from all corners of the world has been infected with Covid-19 and 1 million people died from it.
Although we had somewhat able to slow the infection rate with proper SOP implementation, we paid a huge price. Economy is sluggish. Stock prices plummeted. Unemployment rate is at all time high. People are struggling to make end’s meet. Be it corporate giants or common labour worker, the dire effects are pretty much felt the same.
Nonetheless, humanity is forever known for one trait.
Tenacity to survive.
Like every great catastrophe prior, human civilization persevere through harsh condition. Adapting to a new norm to keep moving forward. There is always silver lining in every cloud no matter how gloomy it looks from the outset. Here are few lessons that businesses could reflect upon as to ensure sustainability post Covid-19.
Lesson #1: Be Adaptive, or Risk Falling Behind
One of crucial element in combating Covid-19 is social distancing. Thus, some countries implemented temporary total lockdown as seen in China and Malaysia or partial lockdown as seen in Germany and New Zealand. This effort had positive effect in flattening infection curve. Unfortunately, this effort had opposite effect towards businesses.
When public is confined within their residences, people could not go to work or visit shops and malls. Meanwhile, rate of e-commerce increased exponentially to an extent where couriers and logistic companies exceeded their operating capacity and were forced to hire additional staffs. In addition, businesses that had long leveraged information technology proved to be less affected compared to those who have yet to embrace it.
Covid-19 showed how businesses must incorporate technology within its business operation. Brick-and-mortar facility is no longer a must have. Make your business available digitally. Selects comprehensive and user-friendly platform that would ease business transaction as well as increasing company visibility among public. In sense of operation, utilize suitable platform to better manage business operation as well as ensuring productivity target is achieved although workers are working remotely.
Lesson #2: Automation is Your Friend
Upon mention of social distancing, there is a significant question that is worth to ponder:
Does ‘that’ need human to function?
‘That’ refers to task or assignment. Most of the time, the way human operates is based on past experiences. Perhaps, certain task and assignment that used to be man by a human worker could now be substituted with technology.
Take robotic arm in manufacturing sector for example. It has improved production output greatly compared to human labour. It ticks all boxes – cost, ROI, precision, speed, and work quality.
The trick is to find task and assignment that is repetitive in nature. Upon such area had been identified, go for automation. For instance, implementing chat bot to respond common enquiries received in social media platform. This will decrease workload for human worker as well as able to vet genuine sales lead for follhow up. In addition, allocate budget to improve existing automation system for long term benefit especially those relying with equipment and machinery. Do seek for room to have centralized management for all your automation system. This way, you could have better control of your system and able to thrive for operation efficiency.
Lesson #3: Lean is Number One Mean
Covid-19 gives businesses more reason to be vigilant in spending. Many businesses scuffle to balance between liabilities and earnings especially those that had just spent a fortune from CAPEX in years prior and still waiting to gain from ROI. There was nothing wrong with it given that 2020 pandemic is unwarranted.
Still, it would be of good practice to have prepared a safe net to land upon if thing goes south.
Thus, businesses must pay close attention to its spending behaviour. There is no room for wastage. Be prudent. Every single penny must be accounted for. While not tampering with current business operation, there must be room that you have overlook. Ask this question:
Is there any savings opportunity as to increase profit margin?
Perhaps there is a way to simplify your current processes. Perhaps there is a way to source for cheaper material but with same quality elsewhere. Perhaps there is a way to save up on your current energy bill by improving asset efficiency.
Lesson #4: Productivity is The Golden Key
However, you need to bear in mind. You can only squeeze savings only up to a certain extent. Squeeze it more and you might jeopardize existing business procedure. The only way to have higher profit whilst having constant cost is to have higher productivity.
For this portion, optimization is vital. To have better optimization, businesses must ensure every portion of its operation is efficient. Upon higher efficiency, production output will be the of same rate but with lesser cost. This excess will then contribute to higher margin. Of course, this additional margin could be reinvested to increase productivity rate.
This is what is meant by having a safety net. You do not have to add liability in form of investment loan or even pillaging last year net profit. You invest based on your savings from current optimization effort.
All in all, the world is never the same post Covid-19. Some businesses lose. Some businesses prevail. What we have in our hand is choice. To regret not preparing well pre Covid-19 or we could take this valuable lesson to make anew.
One such way is to engage with SYREFL and see whether there is something that could be done to help your business prevail.