Essential Business Lessons from the Pandemic

The spread of COVID-19 is a public health crisis impacting all aspects of society and business. The pandemic has forced companies globally to change how they run their businesses.

In the short term, as businesses begin to reopen and adapt back to normal operations, companies should focus on three core elements of their business.

  1. Workforce: Make sure your employees are healthy.
  2. Customers: Do whatever it takes to care for your customers.
  3. Society:  Care for your communities wherever your business operates.

In the long term, businesses need to prepare for future global disruptions, which can happen at any time. This pandemic caused companies to accelerate their digital transformation. Disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have already been transforming business and society in radical ways.

Business leaders that have embraced the role of emerging technologies allow their companies to compete more effectively. As we have seen throughout the pandemic, the companies that have enabled their digital enterprises, such as e-commerce and businesses focused on connectivity technology, have been able to adapt and operate much better throughout this crisis than those companies who have not. Companies should learn from these best practices and invest in their digital operations to create a more agile and efficient operation, such as leading a digital supply chain.

The same applies to public services. Our institutions and systems of governance can be made radically more responsive and effective through emerging technologies. Communities around the world have used AI/ML to provide more efficient services to their constituents – from waste recycling in Seoul, to flood management in Calgary, to energy usage in Atlanta, to traffic management in Darmstadt, to electronic medical records in Kanazawa.

We know that global disruptions can happen at any time. Being prepared for disruptions is key to overcoming these challenges and keeping our operations, as well as society, strong.

Samuel J. Palmisano, Chairman, The Center for Global Enterprise