Chryssos Kavounides: Competitive advantages in a new era
BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP
COVID-19 is not simply an economic crisis, but a disruptive event changing normality as we knew it. For Greece, COVID-19 leaves some positives – a new image for the country of responsibility and reliability, a better relationship between citizen and state, and an increased focus on quality of life and the environment. Businesses adopted new modes of working – indicatively, over 90% of employees report that they are keen to continue remote working, at least part time. In the area of digitalization and use of technology, years’ worth of progress was achieved in just a few months in everything from tele-working to e-commerce and e/m-banking. In a recent study of Greek consumers, 90% reported being satisfied with their e/m banking experience, in contrast to only 55% of those serviced in a branch.
Businesses that are able to address the shifts in consumer and employee expectations will emerge stronger, in the long run. The most important changes and investments driven by the new conditions can be considered along two axes: technology and new ways of working.
A technologically advanced economy’s wealth is found in information. The analysis and use of data will determine the success or failure of organizations. Decisions will be taken faster, based on the analysis of large amounts of data, in real time. The methodologies and the tools of artificial intelligence are able to analyze more parameters and data, but also reveal new complex correlations within the data. Furthermore, the Internet of Things is collecting more and more data, connecting our personal devices, our cars and every piece of industrial equipment. Improved, quick and personalized customer service, and increased efficiency are the most important competitive advantages businesses should seek out from these technologies.
The pandemic brought a new perspective of work for both employers and workforce. Working from home became a normality. Better discipline was observed in the preparation for, and execution of, business meetings with the adoption of teleconferencing. It was unimaginable just months ago that the General Assembly of SEV or the Delphi Economic Forum could be carried out virtually.
The advantages of working from home are many – flexibility, reduced commuting time and cost, efficiencies in fixed costs for businesses, and improved efficiency. However, successfully implementing such schemes requires more structural changes in working practices, operating models and infrastructure, to ensure collaboration, teamwork and engagement are maintained.
The management of virtual and remote teams requires new leadership skills and increased delegation of authority. Progress and quality management demands more frequent checkpoints and more precise objectives setting. A complete rethink of performance management is required. Engagement of the team requires conscious planning and dedicated activities. Employees need the right collaboration tools, while also having the right setup at home to ensure segregation of home and work life and support productivity. A new chapter is opening up in Human Resources administration and in managing work-life balance.
COVID-19 has altered the expectations of both consumers and employees. Businesses that respond to these quickly and with a clear vision will gain the trust of consumers and shareholders as well as a competitive advantage in the market and the attraction of new talent.
THE COMPANY AT A GLANCE
Sector: Strategic advisors
Employees Worldwide: 29.000
Offices: In 90 cities in over 50 countries
Turnover 2019: 8.5 billion USD