In business, innovation isn’t just important — it’s a matter of survival. Nothing has driven that home more than the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overnight, businesses found themselves confronted by a new reality that challenged every expectation and norm. Changing demands on their workforce and changes in consumer behavior meant one thing: It was time to adapt or die.
Which Businesses Have Adapted Best to the Changes?
The businesses that have handled the situation the best are those that changed their business model (the way that they get their offerings to consumers) even while they maintained their business strategy (the choices about which consumers they target and serve). Let’s look at a few examples:
The restaurant industry was hit hard by the pandemic, so how did Chipolte manage to show a digital sales growth of 216% in their June quarter?
Essentially, they expanded on prior plans to make the restaurant experience as easy as possible for their customers by expanding their “Chipotlanes,” or pickup-only windows and walk-through restaurants. By embracing technology that gives customers a “concierge” experience, they made it easy for people to get their food with minimal contact and zero hassles.
Spotify seemed well-positioned to thrive in a pandemic because people are home and looking for entertainment. However, their business relied heavily on advertising revenue, and many advertisers cut their budgets this year.
Spotify responded by offering more original content through podcasts, exclusive deals with celebrities, and curated playlists with localized content. Their shift in strategy has paid off: More than 150,000 podcasts were uploaded by users in a single month.
Long-distance travel all but ended during the early part of 2020, so Airbnb had to think fast. It leveraged industry data and consumer trends to adjust its algorithm to help people find accommodations in their local area.
Airbnb also moved the experiences people sought through their travels online by capitalizing on the trend among consumers to live-stream concerts, classes, and other events. It now allows hosts to offer artisanal experiences to would-be “guests” online. For a modest fee, people can spend a day with a magician or sing along with a broadway musical.
How Well Is Your Business Positioned to Endure the Challenges Ahead?
Savvy companies are making use of workforce intelligence and SaaS platforms to spot patterns that can inform their next moves. Revelio Labs, for example, has been hard at work using their proprietary AI-driven technology to analyze data that companies can use for guidance. “We took two approaches,” Revelio tells us, “First, we measured the risk of exposure to the virus. Then, we measured each company’s adaptability.”
More than ever before, companies need to focus on understanding their risks and challenges when it comes to dealing with what may ultimately be permanent shifts in the way that consumers behave and businesses need to operate. They also need to look carefully at workforce trends as isolation, frustration, and uncertainty affect the productivity and engagement of their teams.