The post-COVID enterprise is the ultimate new business model. If you don’t become a post-COVID company, your customers will turn away from you, your employees will disengage, your products will no longer be in line with market expectations, your production and distribution systems will no longer be adapted; you will be out of step with the world of today, not with “the world after”. In short, if you are not a post-COVID company you are dead.
The post COVID company: just another marketing concept?
Doesn’t this remind you of anything? The digital transformation of course, which we have been talking about since the mid-2000s and which the present shows that finally some people have been able to survive without it, at least until COVID. So, is the post COVID enterprise the new digital transformation, a huge marketing catch-all in which service providers, thinkers and salesmen of all kinds will try to fit their speeches, products, services and boniments to fit in with the times?
I already see a first commonality between the post COVID enterprise and digital transformation: my LinkedIn feed, to name one, is overflowing with articles about what tomorrow’s enterprise will look like in the post COVID world. Thinkers” are putting their thoughts back into COVID perspective and vendors are redesigning their old offerings or building new ones to fit the line of offices that will reopen, of an economy that will take off again but where it will no longer be, inevitably, how it was before.
However, there are some notable differences.
The first is that if in the case of digital transformation the emphasis was put (wrongly) from the beginning on the technological dimension, the post COVID company is built more on values and human foundations. Of course, at some point we will tell you that the post-COVID company will need technology, sometimes rightly so, sometimes because it is better to sell the products we have on the shelf, but this time at least we are taking things in the right order. We put technology at the service of human changes instead of making people change to use technology. But at the beginning, it is more about HR, managerial and organizational innovation than about technological innovation.
The second is that we are not talking about something new. In the case of digital transformation, we were talking about a technology that existed but was still very little used by companies. But we were also talking about a technology that was growing and evolving at a very high speed, that we were discovering, that we had to make sense of and that we had to learn to master.
As for the post-COVID enterprise, we know the essence of it because we have been practicing it for over a year. The question is not so much to implement new things but to know if we are going back to normal or not and if so where we put the cursor between the two. Of course, in order to sustain the change, we will have to adapt, transform our approaches, attitudes and models, and better adopt certain technologies. But for the most part the foundations are there, we just need to build something that works with them.
Moreover in both cases it allows to put back on the table subjects which we speak since 10, 20, 30 years sometimes. E-commerce or not e-commerce? Relocate or delocalize? Managing differently, but how? What is the role of HR in the post-personnel administration world? What modes of organization and production for knowledge workers? We have an excellent example with remote working, a collateral effect of the COVID, which has only put the spotlight on old problems that businesses refused to deal with, without really creating new ones.
This brings us to another difference. The digital transformation was requested by the company because it was expected by the customer but often suffered by the employees, whereas the post COVID company is requested by the people, whether they are customers or employees, and will be suffered more by the enterprise, even if in the end it will be positive for the company because it will accelerate unavoidable changes. Each in his turn.
The post-COVID company is a bit like digital transformation
In the end, even if the substance differs, the post-COVID enterprise shares some commonalities with digital transformation:
- Old subjects are treated with a new urgency
- The use of a strong lever: modernism in one case, good conscience and humanism in the other
- A subject in the air of time deviated into a marketing catch-all.
And something tells me that like digital transformation, post COVID, even if you call for it, you’ll get indigestion from it.
So expect in the coming weeks that HR or management consultants will make going back to the office a new Everest, that collaborative solutions providers will tell you that remote working is great, that co-working space providers will tell you that people don’t want to go back to the office but that at home they are unproductive, that security solutions vendors are selling you all kinds of surveillance, that tons of new players are selling you yoga classes, day care centers, meditation sessions, that interior designers are telling you that you should keep your offices but redesign them for the world after.
But as you have already survived the digital transformation you already know that when you are shown a study you have to ask yourself what the person who produced it is selling and that what counts is not to do like everyone else but to find in all this the topics that are important to you.
And if you miss the train, don’t worry, another emergency will be found to sell it all back to you soon under the pretext of a new emergency.