Crisis has its own way of changing how businesses operate and adapt. A McKinsey Global Institute finding of August 2020 concluded that over the course of a decade, companies can expect disruptions to erase half a year’s worth of profits.
The growth of some companies increased while revenue plummeted, and others were not so lucky. To survive, companies have had to rapidly pivot their business with speed to adapt to the new world. Life will not go back to normal after the global COVID pandemic, but the good news is that there has been some positive impact made on worldwide business markets.
For us at EROE, our core mandate is business transformation and so with a crisis situation such as this pandemic, we believe it provides an opportunity for businesses to reinvent some of their systems and processes in order to thrive in a rather competitive market.
We organised a webinar in collaboration with Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), moderated by our CEO, Daniel Solomon where he discussed with his panelist of entrepreneurs on how to devise effective business strategies in a post COVID-19 world with practical tips and real-life experience.
How have businesses responded in the past few months of COVID-19?
The past few months have impacted businesses in different ways; clearly as the panelists shared their experiences.
Muhammed Mekki is the Founding Partner at Astrolabs, a capacity building company in the UAE that works both online and offline, and provides many services such as being a business incubator. He was on the panel and shared his experience of how they received the news of COVID-19 and how they have pulled through so far. According to him, it was initially a “big shock to their system.” He narrates how they had a training for Digital Marketing due to start on Sunday only to get the message on Friday from KHDA, the regulator for education informing them about the ‘no in person’ training restrictions. So, they had to figure out alternative ideas and how to inform people who had already paid for the course. Eventually they ended up having a virtual program by reducing onscreen hours, doing prework and post work etc. They had to build a virtual platform for their course which is now out. Currently, a self- paced version of it is also underway. For him, the whole experience has gotten them to be more creative in the way they approach their product and also increased their geographic reach to other parts of the world.
In the case of Tech entrepreneur and Founder of Dimension 14, Melda Akin, her business took the health and wellbeing of their teams both in UAE and Turkey very seriously from mid-February when the pandemic was gaining ground till March when it became full blown. Her company is an AI company that also focuses on e-commerce and so her team has been able to deal very well with the change, even beneficially to the extent that and they have gotten to know each other better through video conferencing as a means of communication. Ravi Bhusari, Co-Founder and CEO of DUPLAYS has had a different experience in all these. It has been more of “reframing their value” as their business involves co-working spaces and outdoor sports. They have had to rethink their product and how it is relevant to their consumer space. Since most people are no longer going to the gym for example, there has been a sharp drop in demand for their services.
What are some of the steps put in place for effective business transformation?
When asked about the actionable steps put in place to accelerate business growth and transformation to fit the post COVID world, Ravi says that for his business, what they can do is to take advantage of their network and of learning experiences from the last decade and really try to connect to Sports, Health and Fitness. Currently, they are connecting Fitness entrepreneurs with other real estate in Dubai so that they can monetize their own service for the old or even new customers. His company is also trying to provide a marketing platform so that they can go out and acquire new customers because many of them have lost their old customers. They are also working on concepts to improve mental health, and admits that the pandemic has forced everyone to prioritize what is important.
Business adaptation strategy
In terms of how businesses can adapt in their day to day operations in an ever-changing environment regarding reporting, performance and client relation till efficient delivery to the end customers, Muhammed and his team focused on introspection, reassessment and how to align these to efficiency.
Melda, who brought more of the human side to the conversation talks about how her team worked on “keeping both the team and technical bonds “so this is actually helping their KPI’s at the moment and have helped put in tools to make work faster.
We totally share in this opinion at EROE, as we believe that working remotely has helped teams to communicate seamlessly because certain barriers such as traffic and movement have been broken.
The way forward post COVID-19
The future must be to create enhanced cultures that fit into the new world and transition into it by thinking out of the box to fit new company cultures. This would involve trust, focus on key projects and improving organisational cultures.
Speaking about practical steps they are implementing to transform their business to someone who hasn’t had the experience or taken all these steps, the panelists took turns to offer their advice. For Ravi, it depends on the type of business and what it is going to be. His advice is to be as agile as possible and find ways to cut costs. Their business type means they will have to be more agile, because they do not know when this situation will change, so they are doing their best to reduce costs.
Melda also thinks it depends on the nature of business and how it wants to be transformed by what players and stakeholders are doing, so as to know whether to focus on cost cutting or efficiency for example. She mentions the need for collaborations and also finding out whether there are other industries to invest in.
Muhammed also believes that governments can do a lot to help businesses, by putting in regulations that improve the ease of doing business.
COVID-19 is not only having adverse implications on the health of people worldwide but also economic indicators. In reality, enterprises have to start, stop, and accelerate in order to rethink the whole business objective and pivot it into a new dynamic, without losing the human touch.
At EROE we will keep monitoring the impact COVID-19 is having on business survival in order to implement viable techniques which will accelerate growth for our clients in order for them to gain competitive advantage. We believe that there is a need to have structured processes that measure KPIs and how businesses are operated as a whole in order to ensure effective business transformation and adapt to further disruptions that might occur in the coming days.
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