While many of us were self-isolating and working at home, it was only natural to dwell on the gloomy business environment. We’ve been working to mitigate damage, and concentrate on survival strategies. However, it’s now important to also put some time aside to consider our vision of the future.
When these dark times have passed – and they surely will – our business world will certainly be a very different place. So it may be prudent to do a bit of crystal gazing and assemble a view of a changed environment, and the impact events have had, and may continue to have on our businesses.
I’ve been mulling over a number of topics and pursued an unscientific, and random view through my subjective telescope.
Some sectors have been seriously hit, almost terminally in many cases. Are these market segments where your business operates? To what extent are these expected to recover – how resilient are they? Will they have shrunk in value or volume.
Importantly, how might you need to react – will you need to change your customer emphasis or sales targeting. Is it time to embrace a whole new business model – do you see fresh opportunities in traditional sectors?
Transport, accommodation, and hospitality
If we consider just some examples we can see how the landscape has radically altered.
Travel-based enterprises have suffered heavily. Transport, accommodation, and hospitality are virtually in cold storage at the moment. However signs of thawing are visible. Sadly we can expect to see some notable failures and probably a very different mix amongst the survivors. It may be time to review some outsiders securing strong positions in the new brandscapes.
Interestingly, one facet of that sector where we may see some significant re-shaping is the conference market. People I have spoken to in the training and coaching professions have continued to deliver, but have moved quickly to online channels with video meetings and webinars etc. Those who are the most technophobic seem pleasantly surprised how painless the process has been. Even as we emerge from this crisis, it’s likely delivery providers will also consider the economic advantages of delivering workshops without venue costs or transport expenses. This may be a paradigm shift which will re-model the way these businesses operate for the future.
Some businesses, particularly those in the retail sector, had no option but to simply shut down or mothball their businesses. Which of those do we expect to survive? Will this further change the picture of our high streets? It inevitably makes many question whether a high street presence is necessary for their businesses.
The growth of online operation has already been remodeling service sectors such as estate agency. Are these businesses further re-thinking their business models, and what will they look like?
For those shutting down or mothballing, obviously their first concern was cash. However, as soon as we lift the restrictions, there is likely to be a serious cash gap where they will need to begin trading, but lack the liquidity to pay staff or suppliers.
For many businesses, their problems have been exacerbated by supply chain difficulties. Will companies now be revising their chains. Will a need for resilience lead to a return to more vertical integration and control?
More random thoughts
And finally will business dress codes change? As people observe company directors and business leaders operating efficiently on video calls wearing sweaters, t-shirts and hoodies, might this signal the demise of the business suit?
What’s your vision?