Managing a business through the coronavirus pandemic is undoubtedly challenging, but not all companies have been devastated. In fact, this year has offered opportunities for positive change and growth. For many, that's meant an acceleration toward digital technologies and cost-effective automated solutions.
While some companies have been trying to keep from sinking, others have been thinking beyond the pandemic and accelerating their investment in growth.
One of the key fundamentals to maintaining growth, even during difficult times, is being prepared and maintaining a balanced management approach. Doing so is key to navigating instability.
There are five key areas companies should consider investing in to maintain an overarching focus on short- and long-term growth.
People. The pandemic has created an overabundance of great talent available for hire. When the pandemic hit, many companies shed their payroll, either furloughing or laying off staff altogether. While this tactic is completely understandable, it has created new opportunities to find some key talent that would not have necessarily been available for hire just a few months prior. And while there may have been a shortage of great — and available — talent before the pandemic, many companies are now seeing a plethora of strong resumes coming through their HR departments.
Automation. High-growth companies are also using this time to continue to invest in using technology to automate some processes. The long-term benefits will be increased efficiencies in operations, and while they may have some excess capacity due to a decline in revenues stemming from the pandemic, these companies can redeploy some of their operational resources to help accelerate the implementation of automation in their business.
Research and development. One of the first areas often cut in a company during challenging times is innovation and R&D activities. High-growth technology companies have done the opposite. Most have developed a multi-year strategic roadmap for their technology platforms, and when the pandemic hit, they never delayed or cut any of their investment in R&D activities. In fact, since there has been some great talent come on the market due to the demise of many technology startups during the pandemic, these companies have grown their development teams to accelerate their roadmaps. While much of investment in R&D usually has a one- to three-year window until commercialization, the pandemic has bought some time and given a runway to allow companies to continue to invest in their technology while they wait for clients to get back to their usual spending patterns.
Branding. Like many business-to-business organizations, high-growth technology companies typically rely on conferences and trade shows, combined with sales people traveling to clients to grow the business. With in-person conferences and trade shows rendered non-existent in recent months, and business travel temporarily halted, instead of just saving money, they have redeployed those funds to increase content development and PR initiatives to strategically place their brand and core capabilities in front of current and prospective clients.
Community. Finally, the last key investment all businesses should consider is to find new ways to support colleagues and competitors alike through this pandemic. The pandemic has created a sense of community since every company in every industry is being affected. When industry peers or association groups approach you to support an industry initiative, be willing to lend a helping hand wherever possible. This generosity and support will go a long way beyond the pandemic. In the market research industry, a charity called the Market Research Education Foundation (MREF), was putting together a campaign to raise money to buy backpacks filled with essential school supplies for school-aged children in need. Usually the MREF supports ensuring that disadvantaged children have access to education when the environment they live in may not be able to. When the pandemic hit, the MREF pivoted and went from general fundraising to a focused fundraising effort to support disadvantaged children who have been forced out of their schools, to have the supplies that they would need to learn from home. This is an example of how industry sectors are coming together and giving back, helping those in need, and doing what they can to support their business communities.
Adam Froman is founder and CEO of Delvinia, a global ResearchTech company.
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