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Don’t get left behind when Germany re-opens for business

23-02-2021Strategy

Now’s the time for businesses to act if they want to benefit from the coming economic upturn, and appeal to customers more accustomed to using digital services than ever before.

Helmut Scherer

Managing Director

A while back, during a conversation with an old headhunter acquaintance of mine, I learned that big corporations are hiring like there’s no tomorrow.

You might expect this to be a positive scenario for a headhunter, but it turned out they were having a really difficult time finding candidates to fill the available positions – more so than you could chalk up for pandemic-related hesitation to make big career decisions.

I was intrigued. In the big leagues, a considerable shift that exhausts the talent pool must mean something. And sure enough, this trend seems to align perfectly with numerous other signals indicating that business is likely to pick up at a radical pace after the summer, and companies want to be prepared. An upturn in the economy is on its way.

Are you ready to scale up?

The early signs are obvious, and it’s not particularly difficult to spot them if you follow the news. Over the past few weeks, Opel has spoken out about having a hard time fulfilling all the orders coming in. One of our own clients in the manufacturing industry recently experienced a similar uptick in orders first-hand and they, too, were unable to scale up their production to meet demand. Orders were left unfulfilled, money was left on the table.

As the summer approaches, we will see more and more news like these, and this will start stirring people awake from their pandemic sleep. For example, as export businesses regain traction with growing demand, will they have the capacity to deliver on short notice? And when consumers confidence rises, is the travel industry prepared for a domestic travel boom or will Germany run out of hotel rooms and restaurant seats?

Uncertainty has made people and companies turn inward this winter, but the economy may bounce back to the pre-pandemic level as early as 2022. Will companies be ready to wake up from hibernation when people do?

We’re past the tipping point of digital services

Being confined to our homes and barred or discouraged from running errands the old-fashioned way has forced us to adopt new ways to handle our everyday affairs, from grocery shopping to payments, and from entertainment to family gatherings.

In many ways, 2020 was a tipping point for the adoption of digital services, particularly in user demographics, business sectors and markets that have been late bloomers in this respect. I called it a tipping point for a reason – there’s no doubt in my mind that this will have a far-reaching and permanent impact. People have embraced convenient digital services in more areas of life and business, and on a larger scale than ever before.

As the digital habits we’ve picked up during the pandemic get ingrained deeper into our lives, there’s no rolling things back. Those expectations are here to stay, and in many ways, the world that we’ll eventually return to will be better than what we started out with: we’ll have access to better, easier and more convenient services. And if they’re paired with smart use of data, they can do even more – an opportunity companies shouldn’t miss if they want to stay competitive.

Adapting in the face of adversity is the name of the game in 2021, and for many companies, adapting should focus on the digital transformation of their core business. For example, Munich-based cleaning and facility services provider Dr. Sasse AG has a lot riding on digitalization efforts that aim to future-proof its business.

Towards the real “new normal”

The businesses that have seized the opportunity to learn and iterate during 2020 find themselves at a huge advantage over their competitors today. Each investment they have made to cope with the pandemic is a potential jackpot in the future. Everything they have learned about their industry and customers has potential business value – and conversely, many things they knew beforehand may not be useful anymore.

The “new normal” everyone has been talking about for the past year isn’t here yet. We’re still living in exceptional circumstances – but as the quiet signals suggest, this will pass eventually. If companies don’t want to be left behind when the world starts spending money again, they must start preparing immediately.

What should companies do? The specifics depend on a number of factors from industry to organizational structure, but there are a couple of clear tracks to follow, and they are all something we can help you with:

  • Be bold. The pandemic has been an important learning opportunity. Remote work was previously dismissed as unrealistic, but now that everyone has been forced to adopt it, it has turned from fiction to must-have in mere months. This is a clear precedent: there are enormous opportunities in new ways of working and doing business. Many of them may feel just as unfeasible as the idea of remote work, but the only way for organizations to harness their benefits is to find the courage to take them into use. Futurice can help you get started with tools to create world-class services or augment your solutions with data and AI, to name a few.

  • Embrace data. It holds possibilities ranging from improving your own decision-making and processes to building all-new revenue streams and repositioning yourself within your ecosystem, as outlined in our newly published book, Growth Reinvented: Turn Your Data and Artificial Intelligence into Money. You could already be sitting on a gold mine that you can leverage for your own benefit.

  • Keep betting on digital. It’s not going anywhere, and there’s no reason to think otherwise. If you find that the talent pool is dry, enlist the help of a trusted advisor to help you along on your transformation journey.

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