How business can bounce back post-Covid
by Nompumelelo Mokou. The current crisis is an excellent opportunity for companies to rethink their purpose.Wednesday, 26 May 2021
by Nompumelelo Mokou. In June 2020 the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects envisions a 5.2% contraction in global GDP in 2020, using market exchange rate weights, calling it the deepest global recession in decades. The impact on business around the world has been massive and has already transformed how we will operate in the future.
While the impact of COVID-19 varies for different sectors, the global crisis precipitated by COVID-19 has put economic and social inequalities in stark perspective and caused renewed thinking on how businesses adjust to the new realties, while at the same time contributing to broader economic growth and transformation. The current crisis is an excellent opportunity for companies to rethink their purpose and redefine how they interact with their employees, customers, and indeed the countries and communities in which they operate.
A recent McKinsey report entitled, From Surviving to thriving: Reimagining the post-Covid return, suggests that in order to come back stronger, companies should reimagine their business model as they return to full speed. “The moment is not to be lost: those who step up their game will be better off and far more ready to confront the challenges—and opportunities—of the next normal than those who do not.”
The report focuses on four areas: recovering revenue, rebuilding operations, rethinking the organisation, and accelerating the adoption of digital solutions. The pandemic has forced most businesses to work in new ways. For many there is no turning back. As the McKinsey report states, companies must decide who they are, how to work, and how to grow. “One noticeable characteristic of companies that have adapted well is that they have a strong sense of identity. Leaders and employees have a shared sense of purpose and a common performance culture; they know what the company stands for, beyond shareholder value, and how to get things done right.”
At Dimension Data the future role of technology is being discussed daily. Thus, we continue to view technology as the key driver in education, infrastructure, energy, food and water security, as well as sustainability and the future of business. It is a fascinating and exciting time to think not only about how companies face the world, but how they consider the future of work.
We have seen a rapid transition to remote working and the use of digital communication and collaboration tools. While remote working might not impact on efficiency or bottom line, we must consider the impact on basic human relations and corporate culture. We need to think beyond technology and innovation to encompass how we empower our employees; how we support our customers; and how we partner with stakeholders at various levels.
One way to do this in South Africa is to rethink Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In my experience many corporate initiatives are haphazard, unsustainable and not properly thought through. For many it has become just another box to tick. It is no good donating computers to a school that has intermittent electricity at best, or lacks a teacher with the necessary skills to educate pupils in basic IT skills or coding for example. Perhaps it is time for business, government and other stakeholders to come together and develop a more systematic approach to CSR. The will and the resources are there. The government on the one hand sets out its priorities and needs; and companies and civil society formulate a joint plan on how to support those priorities. So instead of just donating computers, there is an IT teacher, (solar) power, and long-term IT support for the project, including a service and replacement plan, and a secure room for the equipment. This kind of public/private partnership can take many forms across many sectors for the benefit of all stakeholders.
A crisis is often the time to reflect on what does and does not work, and to introduce new ways of thinking and working that can have a lasting impact. This goes for all walks of life, be it business, politics or civil society. Ways of working and business practices will be quite different in a post-Covid world. The companies that are able to respond quickly and imaginatively to this new environment will be at the forefront of business growth and economic transformation.
Main image credit: DiData.
Nompumelelo Mokou, is the new Managing Director of Dimension Data as of May 2021. Formerly the Executive: Intelligent Customer Experience, Mokou is a Chartered Accountant by profession but has always been known for her love for business. She joined Dimension Data in 2016 and is constantly inspired and challenged by imminent change. She believes that greatness is not achieved alone but through multi-faceted people, expertise, contributions and opinions. This is what makes teams work. Her core philosophies by which she lives her life are to have faith and courage in all seasons and to never be afraid of challenges, no matter the size or complexity.
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