In business – as in life – it’s always a good practice to expect the unexpected. Even so, companies in every industry do their best effort to plan ahead and brace themselves for the impact of any economic, political, or social movement that may impact any part of their operations. At the start of this year, the “Vision 2020” manifestos were abounding and leading executives were excited to share their plans for expansion, innovation, and improvements they wanted to make a reality this year (or decade). As Q1 came to a close and the reality of not just the unexpected but unprecedented set in, all companies were forced to reevaluate their standing, change their business model at least partially, or even come to terms with the decision to close their operations. Existing strategies went straight out the door and crisis management plans were implemented. The companies that were able to make it through the shock and are still marching today despite the level of global change have a great ally to thank: business management technology.
Time to create opportunities out of adversity
It is said that the biggest proponent of creativity is a crisis, but creativity can only go so far without a helping hand of tools that can make the ideas come to life. Since mid-March of this year, a limited number of industries showed growth while the vast majority of the group had to rethink everything in ways they never thought they had to. Technology companies like ourselves have been talking about the digital transformation at length, and though we all knew the benefits and reasons why it was a must for businesses, no one is more glad than we are about being in this sector and the ability this gave us to help our customers remain viable and profitable through this time.
When a situation is unprecedented, there is no way to know for sure how it will turn out or when it will end, so it is incredibly hard to make decisions – especially the long-term ones. So how does a company figure out how to move forward when the whole world seems to be heading towards a screeching halt? Agility. Changing directions wasn’t an opportunity that was afforded to every company, but those with a determined management body and a set of agile business intelligence solutions with actionable, real-time insights at their disposal were able to pivot on the spot to create opportunities:
- Food brands were in the safe zone because food is a commodity, but as every other business was complying with mandates to close down, food brands had to shift into high gear with their production to keep up with the demand, while also ensuring their workers’ safety.
- The beverage sector is under the food umbrella in some areas, but others were left out of the equation. On any given month, alcohol on-premise channel sales hover around the $10 billion mark for the US market, but with restaurants, bars, wineries, and distilleries closed to the public, the sales were expected to plummet. Some brands focused on driving their supply to retail companies, while others went all-in on eCommerce and direct sales. The real pivot came from brands like Sagamore Spirit, a rye whiskey distillery and longtime user of SAP Business One, who were among the first to switch their production to accommodate for and make antibacterial alcohol sanitiser as a way to help bridge the gap with the skyrocketing demand (and need) for the product.
- Apparel was one of the more negatively impacted industries with almost all retail businesses shut down in unison, the bulk of the population staying home and not really needing new clothes, and of course, the buying power severely decreasing for those who lost their jobs. Like in the beverage sector, apparel brands saw an opportunity to pivot by going into a new product category: face masks. Outerwear manufacturer Eddie Bauer saw the crisis not only on a global scale but as it more heavily affected its community in Washington State, (one of the first areas to be severely impacted in the US) and was able to adjust their production and supply-chain operations to make and donate over 20,000 N95 and surgical masks for healthcare workers who so badly needed the protection.
Scale and scalability
Though these brands and industries may seem like a conversation for giants, the reality is that mom and pop businesses all around the world were just as in need of technology as an established enterprise to make things work through the crisis. Small businesses switched to online models, delivery-driven or curbside pickup product handoffs, or ran some sort of hybrid operation until regulations relaxed and they were able to return to business. The current size wasn’t a deterrent, but knowing that the crisis would eventually let up and they had to find a way to stay afloat until that time came is what drove most to find the key to scalability.
Making decisions as a business manager or executive is always daunting, but in times of global uncertainty, it can only be described as almost impossible. Business intelligence, analytics, insights, automation, artificial intelligence, etc. were all involved in helping companies look ahead through the fog and set sail on paths that would keep them viable. It seemed far-fetched to imagine companies going back to the drawing board and re-drawing their operations, coming out with a brand new business model in a matter of weeks, maybe even days for some. No one thought it was possible until it was needed, and once it was a necessity, those management teams who bet on technology before this year were grateful and lucky they digitally transformed when they did.
The lesson here is simple: waiting until you need the tools is too late. Being prepared is key to pivoting in time and navigating the tide on your terms. Our team is ready to help get you and your company ready to face incoming challenges with the best possible solutions for success at your disposal. Get in touch with Sapphire, and we’ll walk you through the process.