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A Strategy for Post-pandemic Resilience
30 Jun 2020
As individuals, we are shaped by defining experiences that change our perceptions of the world around us. Such events constrain us to navigate uncharted territory that we were reluctant to explore or completely unaware of. The Covid-19 pandemic will go down in history as one of the strongest disruptors of this generation, driving dramatic changes in customer behaviour and unsettling entire business ecosystems across the globe. It was a stark reminder for all of us that events happening even in the most remote parts of the world can have an effect on the entire global population and that even the most comprehensive strategy can be made irrelevant by an unprecedented occurrence that destabilises the business environment. Does this mean that we don’t need to plan ahead? Absolutely not!

As companies craft their business strategies for the future, they will seek to achieve post-pandemic resilience – a future proof business continuity plan to avoid any future shocks. You might be asking: How can one contemplate strategy when business is eroding? How can one think long-term, when the current environment is so uncertain? Understandably, the amount of effort that is needed to protect businesses from the current harm will vary from company to company. However, short-term measures are unlikely to prepare any of us for issues that will be faced in the medium term. In times of crises, it becomes harder to think strategically as operational issues become a matter of urgency. However, one must resolve to follow a plan of action and manage uncertainty along the way.

Several businesses have been or will be forced to close as they have proved to be insufficiently resilient to withstand this downturn, either because of low capital buffers or fundamental flaws in their operations. However, surviving businesses must challenge themselves with the critical questions: What will the future look like in a post-pandemic world? What will it mean for our business; our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders? How will we adapt to survive and compete in the new environment?

Will the pandemic be a one-time historic episode that we will put behind us after the launch of a vaccine or will it be a series of recurring alarms that will send people into their rabbit holes with a stock of supplies for a couple of months every time it hits? As things stand, the future is still uncertain. For society’s most vulnerable and risk-averse, the shock experienced with the current wave was probably dramatic enough to change their behaviours forever. On the other hand, the vast majority of people will probably exercise increased caution in their human interactions and adopt varying degrees of risk.

Within this backdrop, the EU resolved to allocate a budget of €750 billion across its 27 member states to deliver the much-required economic boost. On a local level, the Maltese government is allocating a budget of €900 million to aid economic recovery and infuse consumer confidence. The future is far from certain but many local and international corporates are investing time and money into their post-COVID future. We must look ahead with positivity and encouragement that the world will overcome this setback as it has overcome many preceding others. We need to work together towards a higher degree of stability, building a more resilient economic future for the benefit of all.

One can realistically foresee the behavioural shifts that are likely to persist in the post-pandemic environment. For example, online shopping with contactless payments and home deliveries will force a number of bricks and mortar operations to redimension and others to have tighter integration between their online frontend and their backend processes. This is an excellent time to challenge business processes, cut inefficiencies and improve the customer journey to ensure that each moment-of-truth delivers the desired brand experience. It is also an ideal time to embrace digital, reducing a general reliance on everything manual and physical evidence for every transaction in the business workflow. The recent experience should compel us to make serious effort to reduce our carbon footprint, both on a personal level and as business entities. Business strategies should also consider the benefits of a better work-life balance for employees and shifting from managing time spent at the office to managing tasks and individual performance.

As the famous Greek philosopher, Heraclitus said: “Change is the only constant in life”. There is no future proof strategy and sustainable competitive advantage is extremely difficult, if not impossible to achieve. However, they must plan to ensure that they remain relevant to their customers in the post-pandemic future. Covid-19 should be an eye-opener for all business leaders to realise that business ecosystems are frail in the face of nature but also the fact that challenges create opportunities. A post-pandemic resilient strategy is an exciting endeavour that serious businesses should take on board to maximise on the opportunities ahead.

Bank of Valletta is fully committed to support local businesses thrive once again. During these challenging times the Bank is providing much needed liquidity and working capital through facilities aimed specifically at all types of local businesses facing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For further information contact your BOV Relationship Manager, send an email on [email protected] or visit this page.

This article was published on the Sunday Times of Malta on 29 June 2020 and written by Daniel Magrin. Daniel Magrin is an IT graduate and business management graduate with vast experience in the financial services sector. His areas of interest are business strategy, research and data analytics. He works for Bank of Valletta.

Any views, assumptions or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.  All loans are subject to normal bank lending criteria and final approval from the Bank. Issued by Bank of Valletta p.l.c., 58, Triq San Żakkarija, il-Belt Valletta VLT 1130.  Bank of Valletta p.l.c. is a public limited company regulated by the MFSA, licensed to carry out the business of banking and investment services in terms of the Banking and Investment Services Acts (Cap.370, 371 of the Laws of Malta).  
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Bank of Valletta p.l.c. is a public limited company regulated by the MFSA and is licensed to carry out the business of banking and investment services in terms of the Banking Act (Cap. 371 of the Laws of Malta) and the Investment Services Act (Cap.370. of the Laws of Malta).