COVID-19 has upended the world as we knew it, and the economic impacts are just starting to play out in earnest. While the threats are profound, we believe a new Gartner report emphasizes that fear and temporizing are not productive responses. As the authors note, “…The Chinese word for “crisis” is composed of two characters— wei (meaning “danger”) and ji (meaning “opportunity”)…”
In the case of COVID-19, company survival could well depend on obviating the danger by recognizing opportunity. While the virus requires CIOs to move quickly to minimize disruptions in the short term, they must also devise strategies that will allow their companies to rebound and thrive post-pandemic.
The report analyzes the varying impacts of the pandemic on different industries, noting that all businesses face certain basic challenges. In our analysis, it discusses them under three broad categories: operational continuity, dramatic shifts in market demand, and unverified or otherwise unreliable data and information that can spur disastrous actions. Detailed recommendations are provided for each impact scenario. A few of our takeaways include:
- Issues and challenges discussed under operational continuity include remote working policies, file sharing and meeting resources, access to enterprise applications, inadequate bandwidth, remote work security arrangements, staffing gaps, and strategy shifts.
- Market demand analyses address expansion of self-service options, customer engagement via digital tools, shifting offline processes to digital channels, customer contact, adapting products to customer demands, and sales expansion through digital resources.
- Informational recommendations detail the necessity of establishing clear and reliable communication pipelines to employees, leveraging analytics vendors for optimal insights, improving data literacy through data-for-good programs, and expanding the adoption of data analytics tools. The report devotes particular emphasis and exposition on the long-range benefits of developing data-for-good programs, given that shared company data helps create digitally literate consumers and forms a tide that raises all commerce boats.
While the Gartner report details both short-term tactics and long-range strategies for COVID-19, we believe it also confirms there is a common thread—make that a mighty hawser—linking all the recommendations: digital technology. Effective solutions for any coronavirus-induced commerce problem are going to be digital solutions. The world has been changed by COVID-19, and some things will never be the same. One of those things is commerce.
The virus has accelerated the ecommerce trend, enforcing the customs, habits—and now, the necessity—of shopping online. A few weeks ago, retailers could anticipate some future time when most merchandising, shopping, and sales would be conducted online and through mobile devices. Because of COVID-19, that time is now.
Gartner, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak: Short- and Long-Term Actions for CIOs, March 4, 2020, Sandy Shen, Deacon D.K. Wan, Owen Chen, Lily Mok, Arnold Gao, Julian Sun
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