Outmaneuver uncertainty: What to do now and next

As governments make significant interventions in response to the coronavirus, businesses are rapidly adjusting to the changing needs of their people, their customers and suppliers, while navigating the financial and operational challenges.

With every industry, function and geography affected, the amount of potential change to think through can be daunting. We are here to help.

On this page you will find expert perspectives from our leaders that provide insight paired with tangible actions your organization can take to turn massive complexity into meaningful change.

Impact on Systems

COVID-19 is pushing companies to rapidly operate in new ways, and systems resilience is being tested as never before. As businesses juggle a range of new systems priorities and challenges― business continuity risks, sudden changes in volume, real-time decision-making, workforce productivity, security risks―leaders must act quickly to address immediate systems resilience issues and lay a foundation for the future. Leaders in the chemicals industry, for example, are recognizing resilience as a key success factor.

To help business leaders manage the impact of COVID-19, we have defined six building blocks of systems resilience that will enable a quick and reliable response to critical system vulnerabilities.

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Impact on Experience

The global COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our experiences―as customers, employees, citizens, humans―and our attitudes and behaviors are changing as a result. Once the immediate threat of the virus has passed, what will have changed in the way we think and behave, and how will that affect the way we design, communicate, build and run the experiences that people need and want?

The answers to these questions will be revealed in the ways people and businesses react and find innovative ways to rise above these challenging times. In consumer goods, this crisis is fundamentally changing how and what consumers buy and is accelerating immense structural changes in the industry, for example.

To help accelerate response to Coronavirus-driven changes, we identified five major human implications to expect from people’s behavior now, and next. Each has deep experience implications for all organizations.

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Impact on Operations

Business process functions across most industries are severely disrupted due to the immense pressure of the pandemic crisis. For many multinationals, complex and business-critical services that are handled by global operations must be reassessed and restructured. Organizations must respond rapidly to maintain continuity and to de-risk their operations to serve their businesses now, and in the future.

Adopting a distributed global services model can help large organizations across industries—from oil and gas to communications and media—to diffuse enterprise risk. And automating routine tasks with human+machine models, where everyone is a knowledge worker, can also help to serve businesses now, and to position them for growth post-COVID-19.

Now, more than ever, organizations must focus attention on those areas that can thrive in a post-COVID-19 world. We’ve identified five ways to help organizations achieve intelligent, resilient operations.

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"It is possible to not only secure and reshape critical functions, but also establish a cohesive set of leading practices that can be scaled across all dispersed locations—both now and as the crisis unfolds."

Impact on Commerce

While Direct-to-Consumer and B2B organizations scramble to meet immediate and emergency needs, the Coronavirus pandemic has activated a new wave of commerce innovation. New buying behaviors are forming that are likely to remain after the crisis has passed – and this presents opportunities. Those who viewed digital commerce as a secondary channel, now need to reprioritize their business with a digital commerce focus. For example, retailers are rallying to provide “contactless” delivery and curb-side pick-up services for consumers.

The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly accelerating the digital commerce pivot globally. Leaders can gauge the opportunities by addressing three critical questions.

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Impact on Customers

The impact of the coronavirus outbreak requires companies to move at an unprecedented speed and that means re-evaluating how contact centers are leveraged, how employees deliver relevant customer experiences, where they work, and how digital channels can be used to support the increase in contact center volume.

During this time, leaders that can shift to new ways of working help to reduce potential revenue loss, forge new levels of trust with their workforce, and position their businesses for renewed growth once the pandemic subsides. Consider banking, for example, where social distancing restrictions will push customers toward digital channels for service and increase the need for a connected, responsive team.

During times of crisis, contact centers are crucial. We recommend that contact center executives address three critical areas.

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Impact on Supply Chain

Now more than ever, the supply chain is critical. Companies need to supply goods and services quickly, safely and securely—especially to those at risk of infection or who are working at the frontline of the medical response, such as life sciences companies developing COVID-19 tests and treatments. While meeting this unprecedented demand, companies have a responsibility to protect the health and welfare of their employees, their supply chain workers, and the wider communities they operate in, while maintaining the required flow of products and materials.

Companies need to develop a rapid response to address the current disruptions and strengthen operations in preparation for future value chain risks. Discover how to leverage digital and analytics to manage supply chain complexity, identify ways to mitigate the disruption, and quickly develop a tactical plan for delivering goods and services in the midst of COVID-19.

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Impact on Leadership

The greatest immediate impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is on people. Organizations are focused on caring for their workforces while rapidly managing the shift to new patterns of work.

At this critical time, leaders must see through these changes in ways that gain and maintain the trust of their people. That trust depends on leaders demonstrating their care for individuals as well as the wider workforce and community. It means sharing a clear plan and transparently showing how decisions are made. And it requires leadership teams who can proactively respond rather than react, anticipating their people’s changing needs. This is particularly important in Public Service organizations, where leadership needs to calm markets and reassure citizens, businesses, government employees and community stakeholders.

All members of the C-suite must actively play their roles. We suggest 10 immediate steps that C-suite leaders can take to build human resilience.

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People have physical, mental and relationship needs. Physical needs – to feel secure and safe – are the foundation. Mental needs – to build psychological resilience – are next. Finally come relational needs – for connection and belonging.

Impact on the Workplace

Key initial impacts of COVID-19 are the need to manage an immediate shift to remote working, along with preparing for higher rates of sick leave. These evolving challenges can be addressed by creating an Elastic Digital Workplace. Implementations will differ for each organization, but they should be based on the following foundations: to protect and empower your people, serve your customers, core needs, and to establish business continuity. For example, the now critical need for virtual care messaging and visits in healthcare.

While COVID-19 is the catalyst for an immediate implementation of an Elastic Digital Workplace, we anticipate that the crisis will fundamentally alter how we work and engage. Leaders should develop a comprehensive Elastic Digital Workplace implementation plan, focusing on 6 key dimensions.

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The industry impact of coronavirus

For industry-specific advice on what leaders should consider doing now and next, visit our COVID-19 Industry hub.

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For more information

Accenture will update these pages as the fast-changing situation raises new challenges for business and organizations. If you would like to speak to our experts, please contact us.

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