For the past year and more, as the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, the self-confidence of organizations to successfully navigate the evolving landscape and emerge stronger has also fluctuated. While earlier in the pandemic, it looked as if certain sectors – travel, automotive, hospitality, for example – would be “losing” the most, while other sectors – particularly those closest related to technology – would be the “winners”, the picture has become more complex as time has gone on.
Specifically, particular companies within all sectors have made more progress or fallen further back compared to peers. The degree of resilience within a company is dependent on a range of factors, including their agility (ie. ability to respond to external forces) and their digital maturity. Indeed, those able to find creative solutions – such as innovations directed at a Covid world – are best placed to seize commercial opportunities and navigate challenges.
And while the global picture is marked by complexity, some clear trends are emerging, including that  the virus has altered the way of the world for the long term, and that  digital acceleration is a fact. As such, organizations can no longer realistically “opt out” of digital transformation or consider returning to an “old normal” state after the pandemic. Nevertheless, organizations do not necessarily need to “throw away” everything they had learned or experienced before the pandemic; boardrooms should adjust to new realities by keeping their long-term purpose in mind, rather than aggressively ‘oversteering’.
Mapping future scenarios
Moving forward, two factors that will shape how we work together, and to what extent we can collaborate successfully are ‘global mindset’ (how will people’s views of social, economic and political boundaries be impacted by the virus?) and ‘sustainability’ (and how will people’s view on sustainability and environmental protection be impacted by the virus?). When mapped against each other, these two factors provide us with four scenarios that are useful for organizations to consider:
Key takeaways from the breakout and wrap-up discussions:
- The Finance function is key to the strategic direction of a company since it is at the frontline of data collection, and provides the facts and figures to build sustainability and organizational strategies.
- Digital capabilities in Europe are, broadly speaking, lagging behind those in China.
- Consider who your organization is working with and leverage the power of the ‘playing field’ by engaging in further collaborations and open innovation.
- Technology is an ‘enabler’ – it is not the end goal for most organizations.
- Consider applying the 10th man rule: make room in a discussion for someone who challenges and disagrees – this is itself ‘scenario planning’ in practice.