COVID – Maybe a good opportunity for middle market organizations?

COVID – Maybe a good opportunity for middle market organizations?
Posted by Manuel

It's no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on middle-market organizations. Last year, average middle-market gross revenues were down by 1.2%, yet many companies have a more optimistic outlook for 2021, with 44% of firms expecting to increase sales. 

One of the reasons for the optimism of middle-market companies is that covid has accelerated digitalization, providing an opportunity for middle-market organizations to transform and digitize their operations to become more efficient. 

Middle-market organizations are in a prime position for digital transformation because they have more resources to put into R&D and internal development than cash-strapped SMEs but are still agile enough to adapt to fast-changing market conditions. 

While many organizations recognize the need to adapt and embrace digital transformation following a year of instability, it can be difficult to know where to start and what operational changes to invest in for long-term success.

Where Should Mid-Sized Organizations Start 

Before investing in ambitious technological solutions or operational changes, it's important to look internally and examine your organization's alignment of culture and technology. 

In short, your company culture needs to support the onboarding of new solutions by providing employees with ample training and mentorship opportunities. Building a company culture that helps employees learn to use new solutions is the key to ensuring they actively engage with new solutions.

For example, if you incorporate remote working and implement new collaborative tools like Slack or Zoom, it’s important to provide tutorials to explain how to use these new tools, so employees can adapt quickly. 

Once your company culture is aligned, you can focus on more specific operational improvements. It's important to remember that no two companies are the same, and what adaptations are necessary to thrive during covid will depend on your industry and the service you provide. 

However, there are three main operational changes that most organizations can use to become more efficient during the global pandemic: 

#1. Diversify Your Supply Chain 

Reducing risk in the supply chain is perhaps the most critical challenge to focus on following the pandemic. The past year highlighted that many companies were woefully unprepared to confront supply chain disruption, with 98% of decision-makers in the US saying their organization's supply chain was disrupted.

Last year's supply chain collapse showed that companies can't be overly reliant on third-party manufacturers to produce products or they risk being unable to supply goods to customers. 

The easiest way to prevent supply chain issues is for mid-market organizations to manufacture products in-house where possible or to work with multiple manufacturers to ensure that you can work with other providers if one is unable to operate. 

#2. Automate Your Cyber Security Efforts 

The pandemic has presented an unprecedented opportunity for cybercriminals to develop new threats and capitalize on companies who are preoccupied with surviving a period of economic uncertainty. 

Cyber attacks across the board have spiked. For example, research shows that cyberattacks against banks have increased by as much as 238% due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now that there are more online threats emerging, traditional antivirus and network monitoring-based defenses aren't enough to deal with the vast range of online threats. Investigating cybersecurity solutions that include artificial intelligence and machine learning is now business-critical to detect these attacks and avoid costly downtime. 

#3 Create a Remote Working-Friendly Employee Engagement Strategy

If you’ve recently implemented remote working during the pandemic or are considering doing so in the future, then it’s vital to make sure that your company culture supports employee engagement. 

For many employees, working at home under social distancing is an isolating experience because there’s less face time to communicate with other employees. Prior to the pandemic, 20% of remote workers reported struggling with loneliness. 

With so many people getting used to remote working for the first time, organizations need to create new, people-centric employee engagement strategies to help employees feel comfortable working from home. For example, Gymshark has maintained employee engagement by hosting regular home workouts over Zoom so employees can socialize. 

An Opportunity to Future-Proof 

The Covid-19 pandemic has provided a valuable opportunity for mid-market organizations to rethink current operations and experiment with new ways to increase operational agility and efficiency. In other words, the future is agile. For most companies, that means diversifying the supply chain, using automated cybersecurity solutions, and implementing remote-working friendly employee engagement strategies to support employees. Companies that fail to capitalize on the opportunity to modernize will run the risk of falling behind competitors that embrace transformation; after all, if your supply chain can't supply goods to a customer on time, they're just going to go elsewhere. 

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