Abhijit Adhya, a pro bono consultant on Business Transformation, Corporate Leadership and Change Management, is currently the Director, Business Transformation at GI, (UK) Global Delivery Centre in India, he leads the firm’s global Results Delivery practice, helping the organization get all it can out of major change efforts. He works closely with the Board of Directors on all aspects of the transformation process—from structuring, orchestrating, and enabling the change, to energizing the transformation and helping senior leadership lead these challenging efforts.
Abhijit has travelled extensively across the globe working with fortune 500 organizations in numerous industries on a broad range of domains as Operations & Program Management, Transitions, Business Development, Marketing & Client Services.
Abhijit says, “We have already stepped into a massive transformation which is going to shape the way we have been doing business. We are standing up to change, and change is an open door for propels. Hence, we have the decision to embrace change or succumb to it. The biggest question, standing at this juncture for any organization, is thinking – what next?”
Here are excerpts from our conversation with Abhijit about the Top 5 things to turn the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent recession into an opportunity.
1. Over Communicate
In tough times like these, it is natural to get anxious about what is ahead of us and panic. Sometimes certain decisions are made, anticipating worst of the worst situations when the facts are quite different. The magic lies in communication. Communicate more than usual with your employees and your stakeholders. Over communication is ok during these times. It helps instil confidence and provides enough time for the leadership to gauge the situation with facts and take appropriate decisions.
2. Leaner Operating Cost Vs Cost Cutting
No, they are not the same! Adopting a leaner model will keep the business on its toes, keep bringing down the operating costs linearly & keeps the company afloat with consistent quality of work. After the covid-19 situation there will be a paradigm shift in the definition of workplaces. Remote working will take priority. Looking at real estate costs, electricity and other ancillary costs associated with owning an office space, people may invest in shared office spaces if required.
Letting go of employees is a common phenomenon during any recession time. Question is how would you determine who to let go? Would it depend on one’s performance or would it depend on staff who are drawing higher salaries? What about loyal unproductive staffs who has been with the organization for many years? It is tough.
Start “Rightsizing” by making a list of critical functions and staffs working on it. Identify the consistent top & bottom performers based on data. Identify roles which can be contracted out. Take decision accordingly. Never ever decide to lay off an employee based on higher remuneration only, as the remuneration was probably offered to the incumbent due to a skill set and experience that the person brought on table. Alternatively, you may also look at reducing salary for all staffs irrespective of band & designation, postpone promotions & increments for a greener time.
3. Invest In Artificial Intelligence
It is no more a question of whether an organization would want to invest and embrace AI or not. It is a question of when? Start with identifying tasks which are repetitive. That is the easiest ones to get automated. This technology is here to shape how future shall look like. If an organization engages the machine learning & AI technology, it has the capability to automate not only most tasks which are repetitive but also tasks which follows logic.
A forced down time is a particularly good opportunity to train your staffs and upgrade your organization technologically. Start looking at start-ups or established companies who are providing such solutions. Talk and get demonstration from a few before deciding.
4. Be Reasonable With Marketing And PR Budget
Curtailing Marketing budget completely, is a disaster. Organizations that curtail their marketing efforts during a monetary downturn are really risking their long- haul piece of the overall industry. Consistent, reliable, and persistent marketing is the only kind that is truly effective.
Marketing during recession means standing out when there is hardly any “marketing noise over the several channels of media”. People are bound to take notice and thereby increase your credibility in the market. This is the time when you can get good bargains all over the media channels, thus helping you save on the marketing budget. Move your focus more towards activities such as blog posts, emails, newsletters, PR along with traditional advertisements. These activities will not dent one’s pocket.
Marketing intelligently also grabs eyeballs of your competitor’s clients as everyone tries to look for alternatives during this time. Apart from instilling confidence in your own existing clients, it will also draw good amount of attention from your competitor’s clients.
Your continued visibility during extreme budgetary occasions will be interpreted by your customers and prospects as an indication of dependability, demonstrating you are sufficiently able to endure the downturn and have the initiative to keep on flourishing. Decreasing your marketing initiatives welcomes contenders to exploit and fill the hole.
5. Diversification Through Value Add & Identify Geographies For Expansion
We all know that it’s wise to work on one’s core competence and make it rock solid! Agreed, however this is exactly what all your competitors are doing! How will your organization stand apart? Discount wars between competitors can never benefit any business, especially so when it is during a recession.
Start identifying “value adds” that you may be able to offer to your clients. Make an upstream and downstream mapping of every offering that you currently have for your clients. Identify the services or ancillary products that are currently not on offer and maybe required by your existing clients. Always start additional value add services or products with your existing customers. You may choose to give them as an additional service or as a freebee with earlier services already in place. In case you choose to provide these as additional services, this can emerge as a diversification for your organization, no matter how small it is.
Expanding geographically within your organization’s expertise may seem like a workable idea. During these times, slowly expanding your catchment area will be extremely beneficial. You will be able to give the required time (set up a focus team to work on compliance and other requirements before proceeding in a new geography area) to acquire new clients. Social media & internet marketing can take you anyplace, particularly on the off chance that you can create an expertise or a niche product or service.
In conclusion, organizations will need to make the right choices today and see the outcomes tomorrow. Gone are those days where change management or looking at transforming businesses were one-time activities. The dynamics of businesses today changes rapidly, much before we anticipate. The biggest survivors are the ones who anticipates and move with speed and responsive agility.