Covid-19 pandemic: Disruption paves way for transformation

Many businesses have rapidly adapted to these new conditions by accelerating their digital transformation.

By Mohammad A. Baker

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Published: Tue 15 Dec 2020, 3:01 PM

Few could deny that 2020 has been a year of challenges. The conditions of the global Covid-19 pandemic have caused disruption to our societies and economies. However, despite these difficult times, we would do well to remember that this is a temporary situation. Things will bounce back. A recovery is already underway.

In the International Monetary Fund’s most updated regional outlook, there is more optimism about the economic growth prospects for Gulf states in particular, with economic contractions shrinking compared to forecasts made earlier this July . Governments in the region have also begun laying the groundwork for economic recovery and rebuilding, setting a good example of restructuring agencies to create a more efficient and agile workforce.


In the private sector, there are opportunities to be had even amidst the drastic changes brought about by the pandemic. Many businesses have rapidly adapted to these new conditions by accelerating their digital transformation, for example. Other positive organisational transformations have also been adopted, from remote-working policies to new reskilling and upskilling initiatives for local talent.

What disruption ultimately offers is the chance to refocus; for organisations to change for the better and to make the world a better place at the same time. To that end, it really comes down to doing three things: prioritising the customer experience, embracing simplicity, and remembering why your organisation exists in the first place. No matter how much the environment changes — whether you’re in the field of healthcare, sports, food, logistics, or otherwise — these principles are essential to planning long-term success.


Prioritising customer experience: This evolves from knowing your customers and staying in step with how their lives are changing. That pace of change is more rapid than ever, given today’s circumstances. But by regularly assessing their needs, preferences, and habits through open dialogue, businesses can tailor their transformation to better serve consumers, placing the customer at the heart of the process.

Simplicity is essential: There is a new level of ambiguity that we all have to deal with in the business community. It thus becomes all the more important to prioritise simplicity by scaling things back. Leaders need to question what is really the most efficient way to get from point A to point B, and what is the fundamental value proposition of any new product or service being considered. Often the simplest ideas and strategies are also the most impactful.

Brand purpose: Every business is created for a reason. Yet, sometimes this reason can get muddled as organisations are squeezed in a tight economic environment. The same is true when they have an opportunity to expand or acquire more entities, perhaps at a more competitive offer. A brand’s purpose does not have to stay static, but it should be clear to those at the helm, serving as the driving force behind digital and organisational transformation.

When leaders apply these principles, they will increasingly see today’s market condition as an opportunity in disguise. The effects of Covid-19 pandemic are only temporary, and the way we act now will forge a path to stronger years ahead for our businesses and the regional economy.

Baker is Deputy Chairman and CEO of Gulf Marketing Group

 

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk on the street in Tokyo. AP
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk on the street in Tokyo. AP

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