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Outmaneuver uncertainty:
Navigating the human and business impact of Covid-19

Turn massive challenges into meaningful change

Businesses must navigate the financial and operational challenges of coronavirus while rapidly addressing the needs of their people, customers and suppliers.

This page offers expert insights from our leaders paired with tangible actions that your organization can take to turn massive complexity into meaningful change.

The post COVID performance gap

Julie Sweet on how Covid-19 has widened the gap between digital laggards and lead- ing businesses, and the nature of the post-covid workplace

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Leading through change, with Salesforce.

Turning challenge into change, and how to outmaneuver uncertainty in the coming months with Julie Sweet and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff

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Regaining eminence and emerging stronger

Explore how leaders in the communications industry can outmaneuver uncertainty as they shift from rapid response to future business resilience.

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Impact on Strategy

The journey to recovery and reinvention continues

Today’s CEOs are faced with overwhelming, competing challenges and uncharted waters as they continue to navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many organizations are already taking “no regret” actions to emerge from the pandemic stronger. These leaders are facing the crisis with a spirit of reinvention—accelerating digital transformation, establishing variable cost structures, and implementing agile operations.

But in recent weeks, the landscape has changed, with the pandemic continuing to peak in some markets and returning in others. Amidst this uncertainty, the steps for reopening and reinvention remain unchanged, but companies must now consider how the pandemic’s progress, strength or recurrence in different geographies is impacting their recovery strategies.

Companies must outmaneuver uncertainty by course correcting, again and again as circumstances change. This requires them to reassess assumptions, re-evaluate scenarios and strengthen their ability to sense and respond.

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Impact on Customers

Connecting with changing customer habits

The coronavirus outbreak has forced companies to reevaluate how contact centers are leveraged, how employees deliver relevant customer experiences, where they work, and how digital channels can be used to support business continuity through the crisis and beyond.

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. The crisis is fundamentally changing how and what consumers buy and is accelerating immense structural changes in the consumer goods industry, for example. Once the immediate threat of the virus has passed, companies will need to consider the impact of these changes on the way we design, communicate, build and run the experiences that people need and want.

With these emerging new behaviors, organizations have an opportunity to accelerate the pivot to digital commerce, by expanding existing offerings and creating new lines of service, like the retailers rallying to provide “contactless” delivery and curb-side pick-up services for consumers. This acceleration will force organizations to reimagine their digital strategies to capture new marketplace opportunities and digital customer segments.

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Impact on Workforce

Pairing people with opportunity resilience

Organizations globally are experiencing unprecedented workforce disruption. Virtually all companies are still determining how we will work in the short- and long-term, as workforces and communities try to function and perform, while struggling to cope with what is happening in their daily lives.

CHROs across industries are rising to the challenge, helping people and organizations navigate massive workforce shifts, such as the urgent need to shift to a remote workforce to protect and empower employees, serve customers and to establish business continuity. For example, the now critical need for virtual care messaging and visits in healthcare.

CHROs’ expertise in developing agile workforce strategies is critical to keeping the global economy viable and helping people and their families survive financially now and in the future. Opportunities are emerging as companies and industries work together to keep people working. For example, Accenture has partnered with CHROs of leading companies to create People + Work Connect, an analytics-based platform that facilitates continued employment.

People, organizations and communities need fit-for-purpose plans today that can evolve as the global health and economic environment changes. Businesses, governments, citizens, and non-profits all play critical roles in establishing a human-centered, systems-minded approach that promotes shared workforce resilience.

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Impact on Operations

Restructuring for global resilience

With the COVID-19 crisis, fundamental changes in consumer behavior, supply chains, and routes to market are knocking companies off balance. Responding to the pandemic has underscored the need for leaders to accelerate the adoption of agile ways of working and value chain transformation to help outmaneuver uncertainty.

Becoming an Intelligent Enterprise means shifting from top-down decision-making, empowering teams guided by purpose, driven by data, powered by technology and enabled by cloud for faster speed to market. It calls for razing rigid structures and creating a porous organization with modules that plug and play. The Intelligent Enterprise is capable of dynamic self-management and continual adaptation. It is built for agility, resiliency and growth.

Adopting a distributed global services model can also help large organizations across industries—from oil and gas to communications and media—to diffuse enterprise risk. 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.

And now, more than ever, the supply chain is critical.
Companies need to develop a rapid response to address current disruptions and to repurpose and reshape supply chains for the future by increasing both resilience and responsibility.

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Impact on Finance


Building the resources to seize new opportunities

In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, leaders have had to act quickly to optimize their company’s resilience—rebalancing for risk and liquidity, while assessing opportunities for growth coming out of the downturn. Current and future viability depend on swift C-suite action, including near-term actions for stability and strategic moves that will create new futures for companies and industries.

Immediate action is needed to address short-term liquidity challenges, but also to solve for costs and profitability and generate funding to invest in new opportunities, including M&A. Many CEOs are faced with plummeting sales and revenue and increased costs. Interventions to adapt may require investments in key technologies, processes and people. For some, liquidity has become a matter of survival.

Actions taken now can have an immediate impact on the survival of the company, how quickly it rebounds from the global downturn, and its financial health and sustainability going forward.

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Impact on Technology

Building technology for the strength to succeed.

Even before COVID-19, many organizations faced considerable IT challenges. Now, COVID-19 is pushing companies to rapidly operate in new ways and IT 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.

Once we reach the other side of this pandemic, it will be important to establish long-term strategies for greater resilience and to apply lessons learned from the experience to create a systems and talent roadmap that better prepares your company for future disruptions.

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Impact on Industries

Turning massive challenges into meaningful change

All industries have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, with varying degrees of severity. Some have stronger defenses, while others will struggle to return to a constantly shifting “normal.”

Consumer demand patterns are shifting, global supply chains are disrupted and remain under pressure, and different regions, markets and governments are responding uniquely to the COVID-19 crisis. Companies must continuously adapt to new and uncertain market conditions. Informed by daily conversations with our clients, we offer industry-specific advice on what leaders should consider doing now and next.