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Most businesses have been in short-term survival mode in recent months focused on trying to get through the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has disrupted business in almost every industry. Some manufacturers are simultaneously facing supply chain disruptions and customer demand shortages, while other companies are scrambling to accelerate their migration to cloud technology just to keep their operations going. We are all rising to the challenge trying to keep our businesses afloat.

In the midst of this, business leaders can’t lose sight of their long-term strategy. In fact, many organizations are significantly changing their long-term strategy as a result of what they’ve learned during these turbulent times.

There are lessons to be learned and applied from the current crisis that will allow your business to emerge stronger. Having resiliency and elasticity are key attributes to help organizations navigate this challenge and define their future direction.


Learn from each other

We are all going to be permanently changed from this experience, and we can all learn from each other as we recover and move forward.

Three thought leaders in the technology industry – from high-tech heavy-hitters SAP, Microsoft and Accenture – recently discussed how their customers are working through the current challenges and planning for the future in a compelling conversation during a LinkedIn Live event.

What they’ve witnessed are companies facing unprecedented challenges and taking inspiring measures to work through this crisis and move forward.

“We're seeing that across many of our customers, many industries where the priorities are suddenly more clear,” said David Robinson, Senior Vice President of SAP Customer Success.

Emma McGuigan, Senior Managing Director of Accenture Technologies, added, “It’s been really interesting to watch our clients go from the immediacy of having everybody working remotely and trying to remain productive and drive performance, to realizing that we’re moving into a state that’s never going to be quite like it was before.”


From setbacks comes growth

The realization that things may be permanently altered is having a profound effect on long-term strategies. Business leaders who may have been reluctant to change in the past, are now being forced to embrace change – quickly – just to keep operating. As people see the results of that sudden change, they may have a more open mind when it comes to considering innovative possibilities in the future.

“People have stopped saying, ‘that's not for me, I can't do that,’ because they're actually embracing this notion of change,” said McGuigan, “There’s a moment in time right now where all of these organizations have an opportunity to accelerate transformations that they were previously looking at years and years to do. And the ones who are going to come out on top are those who really take a bold view of what this crisis gives them to drive that sustained change.”

Nate Crook, Vice President of Global and Strategic Accounts at Microsoft, agreed, “The customers that are going to come out of this successfully are those that embrace the challenge, and the opportunity. I think the crisis in a lot of ways has people re-thinking their long-term strategy, and in particular, their digital strategy.”


How the crisis is changing the CIO role

As a company’s long-term digital strategy has suddenly become top of mind, the role of the CIO has abruptly become even more vital to the future of the organization. It’s important that the CIO is up to the task at hand. According to SAP’s Robinson, “The CIO traditionally leads the technology conversation, but this is really an opportunity now … that this particular crisis has provided the CIO to really lead and be across different parts of the business that traditionally are siloed.”

“As we go through this crisis more and more,” added Nate Crook from Microsoft, “that's going to become critical for the technology leaders to actually help drive the strategy of the business again, thinking about not only this particular crisis and this pandemic, but what's to come next.”


What comes next

As each day passes, the unpredictability of the situation has become almost normal. So, what steps should businesses take to not only make it through this crisis, but move forward successfully in the new normal – whatever that may be?

While business leaders must each make their own decisions in the best interests of their company, these technology business leaders recommend the following:

  1. Reduction in costs should be balanced against the need to accelerate the rotation into the complete digital transformation. Look carefully at pilot programs and decide what can be done quickly.

  2. Accelerate the use of digital technologies and cloud platforms

  3. Build up employee resilience

“Employees are the bedrock of all of our businesses,” said Accenture’s McGuigan. “If you keep your workforce engaged, if you can keep your workforce productive, you can help provide that continued performance of the organization.”


Take what we’ve learned

We have all learned a great deal from this crisis. Now it’s time to take what we’ve learned and move forward into the future together. “We have a chance to learn from each other globally,” said Crook. “Take some of those shared learnings and cross pollinate some of the thinking globally so that we can all rise from this crisis.”

Listen to the entire LinkedIn Live event to hear more from these inspiring leaders in the technology industry.

To learn more about how SAP is helping our customers through this crisis and to emerge strong, visit here.