BY: Mark Wilson chief executive officer at SYSPRO EMEA&I on-par strategist
Building business resilience in times of uncertainty is paramount for all businesses that survived 2020.
Instead of reaching a breaking point, the stressors from the initial lockdowns now serve as great opportunities to build resilience, rebound from hardship and establish endurance for the long haul. The pandemic has accelerated the use of technology in the industry to reshape operations rapidly in response to the constantly shifting market landscape.
We’ve now hit the ground of 2021 running, and to take the analogy further, if businesses are like athletes, they’ve certainly faced challenges of performance slumps, career transitions and illness in this past year. These adversities are set to continue as the pandemic is still surging, even with a vaccine in sight, and as organisations are experiencing management fatigue, financial recovery, a tired workforce, and overall uncertainty where expecting the unexpected has become the norm.
But, as any elite athlete knows, rather than reaching breaking point, these stressors are opportunities to build resilience – to rebound from hardship and establish endurance for the long haul. Now is the time for organisations to relook at their strategies and structures, and capitalise on the learnings of 2020 to turn difficult circumstances into a positive outcome.
Going the distance with data
The pandemic has accelerated the use of technology in industry to reshape operations rapidly in response to the constantly shifting market landscape. The opportunity for businesses now is to leverage these technologies for more than just coping during the Covid-19 crisis, but for longer-term effective solutions, competitor differentiation and innovation to be resilient in any uncertainty.
Technology-enabled big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning can continually monitor operations and provide real-time feedback on what drives performance and value as the environment changes. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Business Intelligence (BI) are vital in this process, due to their data-gathering and analysis capabilities and by bringing together all aspects of business operations and reporting on one platform.
Building resilience requires systems thinking, looking at how a company interacts with its components to overcome stress. With the development of AI and data analytics, companies can anticipate whether and how the pandemic has permanently altered behaviours, experiences, expectations, and the role of digital engagement with their entire eco-system. With this accurate and timeous data, business leaders can strengthen scenario planning, make smarter decisions and identify trends and issues to address before a crisis presents itself.
Supporting teams to achieve long-term goals
It’s not just operational systems and supply chains that are affected by an evolving, dynamic environment. If businesses are to survive and thrive in uncertainty, they need a workforce that can readily adapt to technology and flexible working conditions while increasing productivity, revenue and innovation. Building resilience means ensuring the people of an organisation have the skills and the support they need to overcome challenges.
Many businesses are realising the value in investing in their workforce – with almost 75% of CFOs in a recent SYSPRO 2020 Manufacturing CFO 4.0 Survey Report responding that they’re focusing on upskilling their employees in the next five years. This has to be an ongoing process, requiring a transparent communication channel between leaders and employees in evaluating what is working and what is needed as shifts in external and internal circumstances continue.
This is a time to be proactive – where companies need to seize on the opportunities the pandemic has put into effect to create new agile, integrated strategies to find success. This requires embracing the benefits of data, systems thinking and a productive, supported workforce to build business resilience for the complexities and uncertainties that will continue to remain.