COVID-19: Business Leaders must change mindset from survival to thriving and innovating for the future – Verraki
Lagos (Nigeria) – Leading business and technology solutions firm, Verraki, has urged business leaders in Nigeria to embrace disruptive innovation as a means to thrive and generate future income even as the world struggles with the COVID-19 global pandemic; which has now been reported in about 192 countries around the world.
In a newly published report, COVID-19 and Nigerian Businesses: From Survival to Thriving in a Changing World, Verraki expounded the ripple effects the coronavirus may likely have on the Nigerian economy, its expected impact on Nigerian businesses and people, as well as the course of action for businesses, focused on staying afloat. According to the company, though a public health crisis, the pandemic requires an integrated health, social, economic and security response by the government supported by the private sector. Verraki predicts that there will be a collapse in national development indices, negative economic growth and a decline in revenues for non-essential services, discretionary consumer products and services and export-dependent firms with the pandemic affecting various industries and locations differently. This, Verraki asserts, calls for expediency at both strategic and operational levels in every organization as the effects and recovery time will differ across sectors.
Beyond the steps taken by the government to cushion the impact of the lockdown at different levels, Verraki advises businesses to embrace more technology by increasing their deployment of online collaboration tools, business applications based in the cloud and leverage the opportunity provided by the pandemic in accelerating their digital transformation journey, to remain viable and relevant during COVID-19 period and beyond. Business leaders must empower employees with the tools needed to work remotely as they transition to digital ways of working and also keep staff morale from flagging by organizing digital events to ensure the wellbeing of their employees.
As part of long term reactions to the economic fallout, Verraki advises businesses to embrace digital, “uberise” their assets and services, shorten their cash cycles; liquidate non-income generating assets to free up cash for more expedient use; pay up foreign currency-denominated debt as soon as possible and hedge themselves against exchange rate hike and possible interest rate fluctuation.
To manufacturing companies who now face uncertainties and volatilities brought upon by disrupted supply chain, the report advises that this is the time to look beyond China to explore vertical integration within Africa and explore postponement and fulfillment options within the region that would help to strengthen the capacity of their supply chains to withstand global upheavals as currently experienced. A local and regional supplier capability development strategy that helps to secure input materials has now become key. With the new African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and creation of the world’s largest free trade area, covering over 1.2 billion consumers with a projected $3trillion+ in GDP, Nigerian manufacturers can dramatically lessen their dependence on advanced country markets and begin to produce convenient and ultimately cheaper substitutes. The experience of the lockdown of a few states in Nigeria also presents an opportunity for businesses to look at geographical redundancy beyond Lagos.
COVID-19 reveals the dearth of modern educational and health systems in Nigeria and an opportunity for companies to introduce innovative services, affordable payment schemes including health insurance and digital offerings for the millions of Nigerians who lack adequate access to healthcare.
Business Leaders must deliberately look for opportunities amid the adversity – new consumption habits, new products, new services – and rapidly innovate around new needs to create future income streams. Business leaders are encouraged to act fast with a minimum viable product mindset and quickly launch new offerings at existing or new customer verticals.
Addressing the need to innovate amid the crisis to be relevant in a post-COVID-19 world, Verraki pointed out that business leaders can work on identifying and pursuing opportunities and niches that will surface even as consumers’ lifestyles and spending patterns begin to evolve. This will be imperative to ensure the continued existence of some businesses who now have to learn to not only manage but to grow in periods of uncertainty as we are faced with. Verraki also reiterated the need for companies to exercise prudence in spending its scarce resources, pointing out that while many businesses will be driving for cash at the expense of profits, smart organizations must skillfully drive for both.
“Those who succeed will be leaders who can creatively lead the organization to navigate the crisis of today while also next-sensing and exploring the opportunities of tomorrow. They will not waste the opportunities presented by the crisis to streamline and reorganize to improve operating efficiency and to also capture opportunities to improve competitive agility”, the report concluded.