TMCnet Feature
July 07, 2021

Sustainability and digitalisation hold the key to building a better world, but are they the only ways to recovery?

Even if now, we have treatment and vaccines for the COVID-19, the road to recovery is challenging. Businesses rely on digitalisation and sustainability to maintain their integrity and competitiveness. 

Even though vaccines are available worldwide, at the moment we write this article, the road to a full recovery after the virus outbreak will be challenging. The pandemic affected economies badly, and some of them will feel the effects for many years. 2020 has fully reshaped the world, and many aspects of the business have changed with the rise of remote working, making organisations adjust their operations. Understanding what innovations are here to stay should be all companies’ priority in the following years. 

This article curates the most useful perspectives and insights that can help organisations identify the ways they can rebuild and create strategies that power their operations to deliver long-term value. 

Environmental and digital capabilities are dominants of success, but sadly many businesses are lacking them

Rebuilding requires organisations to change the old ways of doing business, but most brands that survived the pandemic have one key attribute that can help them maintain and boost performance: values. Companies need to embrace sustainability and digitalisation to head to economic recovery. All businesses have recognised them as priorities, even if some’s progress was too slow if they want to bounce back. 

The importance of sustainability has grown exponentially during the pandemic as the regulatory, financial, and social context in which enterprises can operate has changed. Businesses tend to be more vocal about their sustainability measures and methods, partly because the legislation in some states encourages or requires them to use machines for waste recycling. But as we look at many businesses, sustainability is far down on their list of priorities, which is counterintuitive because it’s values-led. A business model that embraces sustainability shows the world that the company is interested in its impact on the planet and is more likely to attract talent and clients. Sustainable companies are more efficient and profitable in the long run. 

The pandemic demolished the doubts about the benefits of digitalisation. The companies with an established digital presence fared better, while those that didn’t have an online sales option went bankrupt. And because life won’t go back to normal after the pandemic (the global e-commerce market will reach $6.2 trillion in 2022), digitalisation is crucial for all organisations. The consequences of digital adoption illustrated by the growth of brands like Uber, Airbnb, or Amazon should serve as inspiration. The enterprises with strong digital capabilities are more competitive as their flexibility and visibility increased, and their costs have shrunk. Digital innovation should be the top priority of companies that want to build a better world after the pandemic. Remote work will remain the modus operandi for most companies, as most employees will prefer to stay safe at home even after the pandemic ends. 

Other ways to build a better world in the post-pandemic era

Humans at the centre of digital transformation

Digitalisation doesn’t happen for its own sake, but it’s driven by people and should serve them back (whether we’re speaking about clients, employees, or inhabitants of the community where the brand operates). It’s the people who help organisations and society recover and grow in 2021, and the human stakeholders impact a company’s success. That’s why the best and most innovative business ideas are also called human enterprises. Businesses need to put their human workers and clients’ needs and goals at the heart of their digitalisation. 

Companies must become trusted brands for their targeted audience

New ways of operating in the post-pandemic era are heavily reliant on digital and data technologies. The trust their clients need to offer their lives and personal information to sophisticated technologies and algorithms will be vital in 2021, and businesses need to prove themselves trustworthy to convince their clients they won’t take advantage of their sensitive data. Trust is essential to use technologies effectively, no matter what the specificity of the business is and what algorithm it uses. The brands that will put their trust at the heart of their operations can become the new market disruptors and stand out from their competitors. 

Businesses should keep an eye on political exposures

The pandemic changed the political powers worldwide, and the global geopolitical risk reached a post-World War II high in the last months. Political exposures, sustainability, climate change, governance issues, and social justice can become major risks for the organisations that want to move forward once the pandemic ends. As long as companies know how to manage these risks, they can stay at the top of the game. 

Get to know your buyers

The client is always right; this is something all businesses know. But it’s a truism that requires periodic revaluation because most clients don’t know what they want in the post-pandemic age. They expect companies to anticipate their needs and deliver them personalised services and experiences. Customers in 2021 have three main demands; they want the brands they buy to make their lives easier, better, and more fulfilling. Service providers and retailers need to customise their value proportions to serve their clients better.

The companies that want to reevaluate their customers’ needs and preferences should research the market before they create products and services to determine if their experience can satisfy the market’s request. 

The final thoughts

We can refer to 2020 as the transformative twenties that began with an unexpected event that triggered changes no one could have imagined before. Doubtless, many other unforeseen circumstances will present themselves in the following years, some resulting from the pandemic while others as independent instances. Companies can only hope they have the perfect response for these scenarios. The ones outlined in this article hold the key to building a better world. And while most of them are connected to sustainability and digitalisation, others aren’t. 

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