Covid-19 was a wakeup call for many organizations. As a result of the virus, many companies were blindsided by interruptions in supply chains as well as shifts in demand and consumer preferences that wreaked havoc on their plans. In the midst of all this chaos, they were forced to reevaluate their business and innovation strategies to prioritize a new objective: resilience.
As we transition into the so-called “next normal”, the ability to adapt will be especially important not only because the business environment is becoming more dynamic and unpredictable, but also because we have witnessed the impacts of global occurrences such as a health pandemic.
Now that organizations have experienced how quickly disruption can occur, how can they better prepare themselves to weather unexpected future events? While creating resilience will look different for each company, activities such as investing in new technologies, cultivating an internal culture of innovation and being open to collaboration opportunities are key steps anyone can take to achieve this goal.
5 activities to build resilience
In the business context, resilience can be defined as a company’s ability to not only anticipate and prevent internal and external shocks to the organization, but to also understand, contain and recover from crises and ensure long-term survival.
Before the pandemic, most organizations had an insular approach to innovation by focusing their activities on the pursuit of increasing profits, maximizing efficiency and maintaining an edge over their competition. While this helped increase profit margins, and improve the quality of products and services, this narrow focus left many companies vulnerable to disruption.
Although we are not able to predict when or how future crises will occur, there are a few key activities that organizations can implement now to be better equipped in the face of unexpected events.
1. Invest in and adopt innovative technologies
New technologies such as Big Data, AI, Cloud and IoT have drastically changed the way organizations operate and help ensure their survival by enabling agility. As we shift towards remote and hybrid work models, resilient cloud and digital platforms are essential to keeping companies in business and profitable, as well as to help employees maintain productivity.
At Enel, we have been digitalizing our organization for several years. In 2019, the majority of our asset base and IT applications were digitized, making us one of the first European utilities to move all our operations to the cloud. This allowed our employees to become more autonomous and efficient by providing them with accessibility and automated operations from any location. Our investment in digital technologies helped us remain resilient in the face of the pandemic, especially as Italy was one of the hardest hit countries in Europe.
2. Test different controlled scenarios
Although it may seem counterintuitive to organizations that prioritize efficiency, it is important for companies to experiment with different activities, processes and structures, especially in moments of stability. Creating playbooks that map potential internal or external risks helps organizations test reactions to certain situations, and also understand which activity would help them quickly adapt in a crisis scenario. Preparing for risks provides key decision makers with the necessary tools and know-how to allocate resources, implement emergency processes and have stronger leadership in times of uncertainty.