2020 was a challenging year to say the least.
Developed economies were hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak. For example, the UK’s economy shrunk more than 20% and the US economy declined nearly 10%. Australia came in better, with a 7% decline, although this is certainly not positive news. With lockdowns, travel bans, and social interactions all limiting economic activity, businesses have had to formulate and detect new ways to survive and continue delivering to their customers.
COVID-19 changed nearly every way companies conduct their businesses. Many of these new methodologies will be here to stay once the pandemic is under control. From employees working from home to the meteoric rise of ecommerce, businesses have achieved wonders in pivoting their strategies in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime catastrophe. With 2021 triggering the transformation from the emergency to recovery phase (and now back to a phase 2 emergency stage) of the pandemic the “New Normal” is beginning to emerge, even as new and unknown risks threaten to derail their pursuit of objectives and successes.
The “New Normal” of business will bring about new business risks that organisations need to understand and address accordingly, to ensure they do not interfere with the recovery phase set to take place in the future.
Let’s examine some fresh risks that business leaders should be on the lookout for.
- Cybercriminals thrive on chaos. The current global pandemic provides them with the perfect opportunity to implement social engineering schemes to capitalise on erroneous keyboard clicks and unsafe online activities.
- Working from home has exposed business systems to unwelcome intrusions by criminals looking for sensitive and confidential information to capture.
- The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture, where employees can access company information via smartphones, tablets, or personal computers presents new security threats for IT departments to manage and control.
- Lean-focused organisations using just-in-time delivery create real risks for on-time delivery to end consumers. Any hiccups or delays can develop into a pull vs. push supply chain strategy.
- Businesses leveraging sole or single-source suppliers are at a high risk of supply interruptions due to lack of backup or alternate vendors to fulfill orders.
- COVID-19 outbreaks within manufacturing facilities will result in supply chain bottlenecks and an inability for businesses to deliver to their customers on time. This can develop into the very-real risk of eroding competitive advantage and losing customers.
- Requiring or forcing employees back into the office too hastily could expose businesses to occupational health and safety dangers. This could turn costly and tarnish the organisation’s brand.
- Working from home could expose employees to hazards that could lead to injuries, leaving businesses without staff and incurring workers’ compensation claims costs.
- A shift in workforce culture could create rifts with some business leaders who may have had more authoritarian tendencies over employees in an office-type environment.
Legacy IT Infrastructure
- Businesses relying on legacy IT infrastructures over more up-to-date options such as cloud-based platforms risk a continued decline in their businesses as they confront the ongoing COVID-19 challenges.
- Companies that are unable or unwilling to execute internal business processes online during a period of widespread lockdowns will certainly experience difficulties in maintaining their competitive edge.
- New and improved technologies will encourage organisations to progress from legacy IT systems. Key areas this should be highlighted include areas such as compliance, cyber and process risks.
The “New Normal” created by the global pandemic will forever change how businesses engage with their current and future customers and suppliers. Business must be flexible in shifting processes and systems to adhere to the new directions of conducting business in a post-COVID global economy. Businesses must be prepared to keep emerging risks at bay for a smoother rise back to normalcy.