The rapid spread of COVID-19 is leading to rigid social distancing and quarantining measures across the globe. Businesses are re-thinking strategies, while maneuvering financial and operational hurdles. Work-life lines are getting blurred and there is a heightened sense of anxiety as a grim economic scenario unfolds. Even as the world emerges from COVID-19, the concept of ‘business as usual’ is changing dramatically.

As companies mull over the path to recovery, proactive efforts will be crucial. The need of the hour is a ‘Think Forward’ team. While in-house strategy teams focus on new opportunities, products and services, and managing risks, improved customer engagement mechanisms and transformed mid- and back-office operations can help organizations balance growth and profitability as they steer through the crisis. This is where a ‘Think Forward’ team can help. This team can provide crucial insights to develop a more holistic strategy which will go a long way in creating a brand that keeps customers at the core during and after the crisis.

Here are some ways in which a ‘Think Forward’ team can help businesses navigate a new and uncertain landscape.

This team should consist of industry experts with in-depth understanding of macro-economic variables, including the length and depth of the disruption, and regulatory and competitive shifts in specific industries. In a new normal, the team should re-evaluate existing investments, and re-look key performance indicators and service-level agreements in relation to resilience, business continuity and cash flow.

The team should be agile design thinkers who can efficiently re-imagine patterns in the business environment, and build what-if scenario narratives as per trends and revised recovery projections. This also calls for capabilities to create robust risk registers aligned with different scenarios, and reset commercial models where relevant.

Members of this team should be effective and out-of-the-box talent masters who can compare outcomes of both work-from-home and on-premise models to architect re-imagined operating models. This calls for consulting capabilities in guiding organizations to make the right investments in workforce re-skilling and upskilling – especially in digital and domain. This will be key to helping businesses stay competitive in a post COVID-19 era, which will demand a different level of agility.

Powerful technology expertise is another important criterion. The team will need to define and implement multiple technological interventions, and launch quick wins for enterprises. The virus has exposed the gaps in digital transformation initiatives and the innovation capabilities of many companies.

The team should re-design customer experiences of the future with empathetic changes across policy, process and the entire customer journey. This calls for taking charge of customer experiences proactively, and finding ways and means to make it more personal, customized, convenient and omni-channel. An integrated approach of domain leadership and digital customer experience will be crucial.

As COVID-19 continues to alter life on a daily basis, restrictions, guidelines and policies will also change. Now is the time to re-group and re-strategize to set the stage for building newer engagement platforms for customers, employees and other stakeholders. Waiting for the crisis to blow over may be too late — the measures we take today will define how we catapult from ‘survive’ to ‘thrive.’

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