Both new and established businesses that are digitalized already have the fundamentals right, but other survival strategies are also critical.

As companies navigate the ongoing pandemic, a few key issues must be weighing heavy on business leaders’ priority list. Covid-19 has thoroughly disrupted the way we work and live. Most business leaders are currently still in the reactive phase of how to deal with this pandemic. Steps taken should not only be to react to the current business impact but also to reshape their business, plan for recovery and build enterprise resilience for the future.

Here are five business priorities business leaders should focus on, moving forward:

  1. Transform the value proposition and reshape business model amidst accelerated digitalization
    Even before the pandemic, some industries were already undergoing fundamental change—digital transformation. Most businesses have experienced significant disruption to their business-as-usual operations. This has resulted in waning consumer demands and significant shifts in behavior. Businesses are now faced with mounting pressure to reshape business model to become more customer-centric, digital, agile and sustainable.

    As they try to adopt new ways to mitigate the current threat and accelerate into an eventual recovery, businesses should also move toward longer-term goals with the overarching aim of not only being operationally-resilient, but to also develop a new portfolio of capabilities for flexibility, responsiveness and greater customer intimacy for the new normality.

    Businesses that emerge from this crisis, leveraging the power of advanced technologies and digital tools, will reap the benefits of replacing inefficient legacy processes, enjoy cost savings, overcome labor shortages and maybe discover more new market potentials.
  2. Re-evaluate business continuity and employee safety plans
    The pandemic has presented a test of organizations’ work-from-home arrangements and how they ensure employee safety, business continuity and clients’ success throughout the situation. Nothing tests theory like reality. From the impact of the current pandemic, businesses should relook at the successes and learn deductively from the challenges. Plans and decision-making must be predictive and proactive in order to preserve business continuity and build enterprise resilience.

    In times of crisis, it is also essential not to lose sight of the emotional and physical well-being of the employees in the workplace. Organizations that operate with transparency and open communication have inherent advantages when events require quick actions to react and reshape, reassuring the business continuity. These will help to instil trust and psychological safety in employees’ minds, a valuable asset that would position the business and clients for success even after the crisis.
  3. Improve digital infrastructure to strengthen cybersecurity posture 
    The pandemic has transformed the way we work in order to deliver results for clients and stakeholders. Organizations should further invest in tools to enable a seamless transition for remote-working and virtual collaboration. Any lack of bandwidth, system and connectivity to handle the surge in remote-work capacity and other access issues could disrupt operations.

    In addition, many businesses are still unprepared to prevent cyber-related attacks against their network, cloud systems and IT infrastructures via security flaws or user errors. Organizations should also look into the legal policies and ethics governing confidentiality for the protection of personal data as well as consent for use and sharing.

    Data at rest, stored in hard drives, servers and mobile devices should be encrypted. Cyberthreat actors will look to exploit any of these vulnerabilities for phishing and ransomware attacks and social engineering tactics to steal sensitive information.

    The pandemic is not the only threat on the horizon: organizations are often the most vulnerable to cybercrime when reacting rapidly to the significant operational and financial challenges of the crisis. Businesses must be vigilant and maintain cyber resilience through this unprecedented disruption. The integrity and stability of critical business processes, underlying data and systems must be quickly addressed, and resilience should be embedded into daily business operations.
  4. Build corporate financial resilience
    A prolonged and severe impact from the pandemic remains a key downside risk to the economy and financial stability of businesses. Finances are a vital component of building, maintaining, and growing any business. It is essential to build financial resilience with a rock-solid financial system, to support other aspects of business during a crisis. A significant weakening of economic conditions would increase financial stress, testing the resilience of the individual business financial systems. In response, governments have stepped up efforts to underwrite company liquidity through wage and salary subventions; this would, however, only relieve temporary issues.

    A cash flow plan needs to be in place and it is important to build, review, and update business budgets on a regular basis according to how the business works. A safety margin is necessary to be factored into expense planning to adjust for higher costs than expected in a dynamically-evolving global situation.
  5. Identify new opportunities through strategic innovation and business design thinking While change is a constant, the speed, scale, and impact from a mix of fundamental shifts—in globalization, technology and societal demand—have undoubtedly transformed the entire business landscape today. Businesses may discover opportunities for new growth through the conjoint efforts of strategic innovation and business design thinking, to grow the existing business, break through rigid systems and do things differently.

    Given the dynamic nature of the Global Value Chain (GVC), it is likely that a transformation of these GVC activities in goods and services will lead to both greater opportunities and resilience. They should be focused on building new sources of dynamism in the industry to be poised for a rebound once the virus dies out.

    New innovations should work towards achieving a double bottom line—providing profit and social benefits that value-add the entire ecosystem where everyone can derive mutual benefits.

The response window for a crisis is typically measured in months, while recovery is measured in years. Businesses that are well-prepared will always recover more quickly.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly affected all aspects of business, from the robustness of supply chains to the stability of the financial markets, the labor market and shifts in customer behavior. In these unprecedented times, the key to business survival and future success is ensuring resilience throughout the entire organization—which includes operational and financial resilience—all agile enough to evolve over time and amidst changing circumstances.