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04/05/2020 - Views

Driving transformation and innovation in times of crisis

They say that necessity is the mother of invention and you’d be hard-pressed to argue against that view considering everything that is happening right now. Things that usually take months and years to design, develop, and implement are being done in a matter of days and weeks because there is a real and present need to do so. When people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake, we have the remarkable ability to go into hyperdrive and innovate to make things happen in record time.

From the overnight transformation of bricks and mortar businesses into pure-play e-commerce channels to the development of countless solutions for crucial medical equipment desperately needed by under-resourced hospitals. We tend to do this at scale in concentrated bursts in response to a national or global crisis. These events drive individuals and organisations to a new level of creativity and innovation to ensure that they survive and even thrive as they grow ideas into hugely successful outcomes.

A crisis has the uncanny ability to focus the mind of individuals and organisations, on those things that are truly important. That ever-growing list of strategic initiatives that seems so impossible to rationalise into a meaningful set of deliverables is quickly and ruthlessly boiled down to one or two items.

When all the resources become focused on the uber-deliverables without having to continually switch between multiple initiatives, the boost in efficiency and delivery of desired outcomes can be huge. Obviously, this assumes that these initiatives are viable and address a gap in the market. If they don’t then they invariably become a massive drain on already constrained resources.

Crises by nature are synonymous with distorting event horizons and disrupting the status quo. Although the actual event itself is often only temporary, it can precipitate longer-term consequences. Such disruptions, however, tend to generate new opportunities due to shifts in the market, consumer sentiment, or by creating a brand-new set of needs. Organisations that recognise and crystallise such opportunities come into their own during these times. Especially if they are able to quickly orchestrate and repurpose existing resources; technology, people, or capital, for example, to create new products and services at short notice.

At the risk of coming across as biased, I truly believe that good technology becomes a key asset and catalyst for innovation and growth during times of crisis. More so if that technology is designed as re-useable modular services that could be repurposed into a multitude of new products, services, and insights relatively quickly. Something that would be difficult, if not impossible to do without technology as an integral part of the business.

Very few things focus the mind like a cataclysmic event, but as bad as they may be, they often foster creativity, innovation, and opportunities for growth. The profound challenges that we are facing now will again demonstrate the value that technology will play in addressing some of society’s pressing needs and solving hugely complex issues across the globe. The requirement for businesses across every vertical to implement or fast-track digital transformations is becoming clearer by the day. It remains to be seen whether we can sustain this level of directional focus and drive into and beyond the looming recession, or whether we simply lose steam and revert back to type when the good times return. Don't allow these opportunities for innovation and transformation go to waste...