The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted totally different responses from firm CEOs searching for to make sure their companies survive. Preserving their workers protected has been the primary precedence, however past that, their process has concerned understanding the scenario, launching countermeasures, and making an attempt to evolve methods of working to make sure their companies can proceed.
We spoke to the chief executives of three main firms in three very totally different industries. Of their responses to the disaster we discovered that Winston Churchill’s adage of “by no means let a disaster go to waste” was as related as ever, with companies discovering positives throughout the pandemic.
Speed up technique
Transport big AP Møller-Maersk launched into a historic transformation in 2016 to turn out to be an built-in transport and logistics firm – combining its transport line, port operations and freight forwarding companies right into a single entity. Nonetheless, progress had been restricted.
The pandemic introduced unprecedented challenges to Maersk’s prospects who, confronted with falling demand, needed to handle their world provide networks as successfully as attainable. They wished higher data throughout the availability chain and the flexibility to vary outcomes whereas items had been in transit.
These calls for affirmed Maersk’s technique to shift from being a port-to-port container transport firm to an built-in, end-to-end logistics firm, making use of digital applied sciences to supply the connectivity and visibility that prospects required.
Maersk’s prospects turned to its blockchain-enabled provide chain platform TradeLens, the place the variety of transactions virtually tripled from 70,000 per week in January 2020 to 194,000 per week in June. Transactions by Maersk.com elevated by 20%-25% between January and October 2020. Maersk’s CEO Soren Skou instructed us: “The investments we made within the final 5 years in digital capabilities got here in very helpful throughout COVID-19.”
The pandemic accelerated Maersk’s technological transformation efforts, which led to new digital services and products whereas modernising its buyer interface, back-end infrastructure and belongings similar to ships and terminals. Maersk additionally constructed experience by acquisitions, buying warehousing and distribution firm Efficiency Staff, and customs administration agency KGH Customs.
Skou was capable of apply what he’d discovered from the monetary disaster of 2008-09, when Maersk and its opponents fought for market share and ended up driving down freight charges. This time, Skou targeted on profitability: reducing capability by 20%, however filling the remaining vessels even because the pandemic triggered transport volumes to drop. The plunging worth of oil additionally helped Maersk’s monetary efficiency, and its earnings really elevated within the first three quarters of 2020, regardless of near-paralysis of the worldwide economic system.
Giant firms are sometimes seen as sluggish and trailing in innovation in comparison with smaller, extra nimble opponents. Commonplace working procedures imply they give attention to growing “excellent” options, testing in pilot markets and proving the enterprise case over a few years, earlier than lastly rolling out – by which era they’ve in all probability missed the boat.
Mars Petcare, a worldwide chief in pet meals and pet well being companies, discovered that COVID-19 necessitated scaling up innovation. Previous to the disaster, the corporate had been engaged on a telehealth service for pet homeowners, providing video consulatations with vets at 20 veterinary hospitals, the place it proved to be a beneficial triage software for prioritising instances.
Because the pandemic took maintain, pet homeowners began working from house, inevitably spending extra time with their pets which generated extra queries about minor well being points. An preliminary video name with a vet was a perfect resolution.
Working with Microsoft, the corporate scaled its telehealth service from 20 to round 2,000 veterinary hospitals – in a single month. Poul Weihrauch, world president of Mars Petcare, instructed us:
This may occasionally not assist our earnings within the quick time period, however it’ll make the purchasers happier and pets more healthy at the moment and in the long run. A typical perception is that large firms are sluggish, however this reveals that large firms can scale innovation in a short time. This time, it was achieved by necessity… however clearly the purpose is that it needs to be the norm.
These efforts, spurred by excessive demand throughout COVID-19, tied in properly with Mars Petcare’s technique to dramatically speed up its evolution from pet meals producer to supplier of pet care companies.
Have interaction with workers and prospects
When the pandemic struck, safety grew to become an “important service”. Safety firm Securitas realised it wanted to shortly ramp up its digital options. This validated the corporate’s technique launched in 2018 to evolve from offering conventional bodily guarding to digital safety options similar to facial recognition expertise and distant video monitoring.
CEO Magnus Ahlqvist wished to handle prospects’ uncertainty, outlining how Securitas was coping with the disaster. He and his administration crew labored with main purchasers, with an analogous sponsorship system for every of the nations during which Securitas operates. Ahlqvist instructed us:
“I’ve spent extra time with purchasers than I’d usually… Being seen and current for purchasers in a tricky second will repay in the long run.”
The Swedish firm’s 340,000 frontline guards needed to rise to an unprecedented problem, for which the corporate pushed onerous to equip them with higher digital instruments.
Having already launched into strategic transformations, these companies had been properly outfitted to show an unparalleled menace into a chance. Setting a superb instance from the highest, the chief executives had been capable of put the disaster to work by accelerating technique, scaling innovation and deepening buyer engagement, producing the vitality required for the organisation to thrive, regardless of the hurdles thrown up by COVID-19.
The authors don’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or group that might profit from this text, and have disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.