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Outmanoeuvre uncertainty: What to do now and next

Turn massive challenges into meaningful change

Navigating the human and business impact of coronavirus

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 organisation can take to turn massive complexity into meaningful change.

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The journey to agility must start now

Today’s CEOs are faced with overwhelming, competing challenges and uncharted waters as they continue to navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of necessity, CEOs have prioritised the Now, focusing on supporting their people, customers and suppliers, and orchestrating responses to supply chain disruption. In parallel, leaders have sought to stabilise revenues and take care of customers, to reshape their businesses to align with evolving demand and find new growth pathways.

Leaders are rapidly turning their attention to the Next, a period of unpredictable and possibly muted economic recovery which will raise new competitive threats and opportunities at great speed. What follows will not be a return to pre-COVID business practices, but more likely a decade of the Never Normal, a new era defined by fast changing shifts in cultural norms, societal values and behaviours, such as increased demand for responsible business practices and renewed brand purpose.

Against this backdrop, leaders face the urgency and complexity of reopening their businesses. To outmanoeuvre uncertainty, reopening also requires a program of reinvention. This presents an opportunity—and a need—for many companies to build the competences they wish they’d invested in before: to be more digital, data-driven, and in the cloud; to have more variable cost structures, agile operations and automation; to create stronger capabilities in e-commerce and security. This agility will be core to the long-term capabilities they build. Leaders should consider the steps they take to reopen as the first in a long journey of wider transformation.

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Redefined, reskilled, redeployed – the resilient workforce

Pairing people with opportunity

Organisations globally are experiencing workforce disruption at an unprecedented scale and speed. Virtually all companies are still determining how we will work in the short- and long-term. But speed is of the essence, as our 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 organisations navigate workforce shifts en masse, such as addressing 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 in paying work. For example, Accenture has partnered with CHROs of leading companies to create People + Work Connect, an analytics-based platform that facilitates continued employment.

People, organisations and communities need answers now. Plans need to be fit-for-purpose today but capable of evolving as the global health and economic environment changes. Businesses, governments, citizens, and non-profits all play critical roles in establishing a human-centred, systems-minded approach that promotes shared workforce resilience. This is not a one-time process. It requires the development of persistent capabilities and relationships across stakeholder groups. CHROs are on the front line of this response, equipped with the advanced technologies and intelligence they need to help navigate these sudden, massive workforce shifts.

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Reset for a
new mindset

Connecting with changing customer habits

The impact of the coronavirus outbreak has forced companies to move at an unprecedented speed to serve their customers with quality, while caring for their employees with compassion. Companies are re-evaluating how contact centres 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 behaviours 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 behaviours, organisations also 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 organisations to revisit and even reimagine their digital strategies to capture new marketplace opportunities and digital customer segments.

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De-risk for greater rewards

Restructuring for global resilience

With the COVID-19 crisis, fundamental changes in consumer behaviour, 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 outmanoeuvre 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 that emphasise territory and control and creating a porous organisation 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 organisations 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.

And 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. 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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Creating liquidity to survive, then thrive


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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Upgrading IT for a never normal world

Building technology for the strength to succeed.

Even before COVID-19, many organisations 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 recognising 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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The Revitalisation of Industries begins

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.

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