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Rethinking Resilience in Business

How learning from 2020 will ensure your business thrives in 2021

The acronym VUCA was first used in 1987 to describe or reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of general conditions and situations. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed each of these four areas to their extremes, with many organisations facing greater volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity than at any other time in recent history.

The fallout from the pandemic is starting to become clear, and we can already see the huge impact that the pandemic has had on businesses. With the World’s top developed economies now all officially in recession, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed that two-thirds of businesses across all sectors have taken a hit to revenue or cash flow due to Covid-19.

So, what can we learn from the organisations who are bucking the trend and, not just surviving, but thriving in this environment? And what ERP and business strategies can we borrow to ensure our businesses continue to increase profit margins through these challenging times? My team and I have identified three key strategies and investigate how you can apply them across your organisation:

Be agile and enable your people to focus on high value activities

Most organisations that have thrived during the pandemic have been agile. They have been able to shift their resources and operating models, pivoting quickly, as circumstances have changed. To be able to do this you need your talent focussed on high value activities to drive that agility. Far too often we see key resources spending large portions of their time on activities that either do not add much value or are repetitive and highly manual.

A recent McKinsey study highlights the severity of this issue. With analysis suggesting that 25 to 58 percent of the worldwide work activities, across all sectors, could be automated using currently demonstrated technologies. According to a recent survey, employees agree, with more than two-fifths of employees indicating that better technology that empowers them to be more efficient, so they can use their time better and dedicate more time to higher value tasks, were central to their ongoing success.

Organisations are starting to recognise this, with a recent McKinsey study finding that one-third of the businesses they surveyed have accelerated the digitization of their resource and supply chains. With half speeding up the digitization of their customer channels, and two-thirds moving to adopt artificial intelligence and automation.

Data is key, but it needs to be accurate and up to date

To be able to achieve business agility and know how and when to pivot, leading organisations are utilising high quality and near-live data to drive their decision-making. We are also seeing that leaders are asking for different data points and deeper analysis far more regularly. For organisations who take days or weeks to mine and then analyse their data, it can become impossible to quickly react and change direction.

Data quality is a massive issue for businesses. With analysis from MITSloan Management Review reporting that employees waste 50 percent of their time coping with mundane data quality tasks. A recent Forrester report also found that nearly one-third of analysts spend more than 40 percent of their time vetting and validating their analytics data, before it can be used for strategic decision-making.

With analysis by PragmaticWorks identifying that 20-30% of operational expenses are due to bad data, it is clear that accurate and timely data is mission critical. With any business that is seeking to make data driven decisions needing to remove human intervention in the process of data entry, collation, and analysis through utilisation of various technologies.

Technology + People + Processes

It is never a good idea to merely buy in new technology. It is only when the right processes and people are combined with technology that real transformation can occur. Too often businesses look to technology as an answer to a problem, rather than an enabler to help solve the problem. Picking the technology before truly understanding the process that they are trying to transform has led to many failed and ineffective technology projects over the last 20 years. Instead, why not conduct an in-depth analysis of your current business requirements through key stakeholder interviews and current process reviews? This can help to deliver valuable insights and resources such as:

  • Key insights into the current processes
  • Identification of key pain points
  • Identification of key levers to drive user adoption
  • Identification of key areas and drivers for financial return on investment
  • Identification of quick wins and longer-term development areas
  • Current state technology landscape map across your processes

Getting the right balance of technology, people and processes is key. To gather the insights required for this the first task is understanding what you are hoping to achieve through any digital transformation initiative. Then mapping out your existing processes, people, and technology to identify the key levers for adoption, success and to identify any exception cases that you need to be aware of.

Choose the right technology

Once you know what you want to change, you can start looking at technologies that can enable that change. For example, Intelligent Process Automation - where repetitive manual tasks are automated using Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and a ‘digital worker’ completes the tasks on a human’s behalf. A digital worker is an automated team member trained to carry out a business process just like any employee, only faster and without mistakes. Digital workers operate 24/7, are highly accurate, completely reliable and can utilise multiple data sources and platforms to perform their tasks.

Technologies, like RPA, are a great example of solutions freeing up your team to focus on higher value activities and focus on your core business. By utilising RPA to complete high volume, but low-value transactional activities that can take up much of your team’s time, will ensure your competitiveness, by ensuring that tasks, like manual entry of data, are kept to an absolute minimum and data can be transferred between systems in a highly effective way to ensure that data is accurate and up to date.

Reducing your business’s spend through cost savings and the right automation project can have a huge impact on your business’s bottom line. Unfortunately, many businesses still fail to see the connection between saving money and increased profit. Increasing profit through sales during a global pandemic can be incredibly hard, but putting the right processes in place, and enabling your teams to be informed and agile is a lot easier.


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Jussi Karjalainen

Jussi Karjalainen



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19 Mar 2019



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