Many organizations are currently running in a mode that is utilizing at least some, and in many cases, quite a number of the components of their Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity Plans. For Retailers, however, this time the typical DRP/BCP scenario has been flipped. The data center, cloud platforms and network are intact, but in most cases, the brick & mortar selling locations are closed or restricted to pick up only. The supply chain is disrupted. The network, online transactions, eCommerce/BOPIS fulfillment, and related security and performance issues, are primary concerns. Some of the DRP/BCP components implemented may have worked better than others, and now is a good time to identify the components that need to be updated in the plan, based on the lessons learned.
Internet and web site traffic is increasing for shoppers now buying online as stores are closed for shopping, which is placing higher demands on the platform to provide the throughput required. Having a cloud-based solution in a data center backed by GCP, Azure or AWS provides for efficient scalability. As the online channel begins to represent a larger share of the business, network performance management and security detection and response solutions are required to protect both the consumer and the business.
Efficient and responsive order management solutions will require a robust, low code / no code, reliable integration platform to implement process automation, identify inventory availability, process payments, provide order status visibility, and ensure end-to-end data integrity for online orders, whether shipped to the customer from the fulfillment center, drop shipped by the vendor or picked up at the store.
There will also be many short-term issues to deal with when restarting the business again, especially related to existing inventory management, inventory planning and merchandise flow going forward, reevaluating the supply chain, providing supply chain visibility and flexibility, reevaluating the selling locations and managing staffing requirements across the organization.
However, there are many additional important issues to face. What about the organization’s business strategies? How much will they change post-COVID-19? How will the organization’s customer behaviors change? Have they adopted new shopping/purchasing patterns that will continue when we come out on the other side, or will they return to their previous patterns? In all likelihood, they will end up somewhere in between, depending on the nuances of your business and your past/present/future relationships with your customers are changing.
CIOs will need to stay close to and share their insights and learnings with the business leaders within their organization to help them adapt their business strategies to the new “normal” they will be facing. Those evolving business strategies will then need to be supported by an evolving digital strategy.
CIOs opting to hunker down and wait out COVID-19 should think again. By accelerating their digital business strategies, they will position their organization for growth when it subsides. Although it may be tempting to place digital strategy initiatives on hold amid the sharp uptake in business continuity and resiliency efforts, don’t do that. Instead, accelerate business transformation efforts now to align with the new business strategies that will be implemented when the pandemic passes.
Today, with 80 percent of revenue growth hinging on digital offerings and operations by 2022, IT leaders should continue transforming their operating models, according to KPMG research.
Companies that continue to invest in their digital strategy will emerge from this pandemic as a more competitive organization. Sound models that incorporate the best people, processes and technologies remain critical in good times and bad.
When this period ends, there is going to be a significant upsurge in consumer spending, and CIOs will want their organizations to be in position to take advantage of it. Now is not the time to put significant technology initiatives on hold. The companies that fall behind on the digital curve because they have cut back IT spending too deeply will be in trouble.
Technology, done right, enhances productivity and efficiency. Investing in these sorts of systems enables companies to do more with less. Moreover, with so much uncertainty, it may even pay to accelerate, not just maintain, investment in automating costly processes and providing visibility and flexibility throughout the entire supply chain.
The situation presents both a challenge and an opportunity for businesses. Customers will find a way to meet their needs digitally, through their current Retailer or another company that does a better job. This will widen the gap in performance between digital leaders and laggards, generating better results for customers, employees and shareholders.