Bundu Bashing our way to a new business norm post Covid-19

Businesses need to apply data analytics, expertise and timely action to survive the "wild landscape".

“Bundu bashing” is a great South African term. It talks about the experience of leaving the comfort of the road and traversing unknown territory. To do this safely, one needs to plan, prepare and have the required skills. Since the advent of Covid-19, business as we knew it has pretty much gone off-road and we are ‘bundu-bashing’ our way through unchartered territories.

The pandemic has forced us all into a wild, unknown landscape. We have all had to adjust and overhaul the roadmaps for our businesses. In this alien and at times treacherous terrain, we need to draw on our collective professional experience and share knowledge and ideas.

Despite the gradual opening up of South Africa’s lockdown, most businesses will not return to what they were before Covid-19, at least for the foreseeable future. 

No person or modelling algorithm can predict, with any certainty, what lies ahead for business, the economy and our people. The best we can do is to plan, prepare and upskill. 

To develop a robust strategy for which route to take a business forward during and post the Covid-19 pandemic, three basic pillars can be applied: data analytics, expertise and timely action.

These three pillars are not dis-similar to a strategy that is being deployed to successfully fight the coronavirus: detect, contain, treat. Data from all corners of the world is being collated by institutions such as the John Hopkins University and being shared openly online for everyone to use. 
Countries and states that have chosen to ignore the data and advice from medical experts, and that have not acted timeously, are suffering the consequences of those decisions.

The intention of this article is to outline how business can apply these three pillars to formulate a robust strategy through which to traverse the difficult journey to a new business normal – whatever that may be.

Data Analytics

With the unprecedented changes brought about through the Covid-19 pandemic, every business should be re-evaluating its business model. In the ‘bundu bashing’ metaphor: survey the landscape and check your toolkit, both before and during the journey itself.

Without accurate information, business owners and executives are operating in the dark. Data needs to be gathered from all areas of the business including data on consumers, competitors, suppliers as well as the latest Covid-19 data.

Data provides insight to business owners and executives, not only into the state of the company, but also into the greater business environment.
Thorough data analysis enables scenario planning through which to identify potential risks, solutions and outcomes which can be clearly presented and visualised. Regular reassessment via a feedback loop enables you to answer the critical questions: what’s working and what’s not working?

Partially closed businesses will be able to determine what is working for the business and what needs to be improved or changed to maximise sales and profits. The data will provide answers to many questions that may be asked. Where are there inefficiencies? How has the supply chain been disrupted? Has the customer profile changed? What new risks does the business face?

Temporarily closed businesses will be able to determine when and what parts of the business should re-open first. It is unlikely that the business will pick up where it left off at the start of the lockdown. Which staff to bring back? What products and services to prioritise? What marketing strategy? What volumes to produce? and so on.

Business owners and executives of permanently closed businesses could use the data to determine what can be salvaged and what new opportunities have become available. These opportunities could present in many ways. i.e. Mergers, acquisitions, relocation, shared premises, working from home, new products and services and so on.

Expertise

Businesses may want to ‘go-it-alone' and hope for the best, but I strongly believe that now is the time for collaboration.

Fresh ideas, honesty and out-of-the-box solutions are required to overcome the challenges ahead. An in-house, go-it-alone approach will no doubt produce workable solutions, but by bringing in unencumbered external third parties to perform the data analytics, new angles and opportunities could be presented. People are fearful for their jobs so it is understandable that in-house solutions may well be focused on self-preservation, possibly at the expense of the long term good of the business.

Timely Action

Carpe diem – seize the day. There have been many references to using the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to reset what has been wrong for a long time. Rigid office hours, commuter systems, education, discrimination, and the environment have all been cited. Now is the time for change. Now is not the time to play the waiting game.

We are biologically wired for fight, flight or freeze in the face of adversity. Doing little and hoping for the best is not going to work. Your competitors are already reframing threats into opportunities. Procrastination will only delay the inevitable. 

Success Stories

Albert Einstein said, “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity”.

Many companies have switched production to provide PPE products, but there are many other examples of companies that are adaptive to change and have already adapted to the crisis. 

One such success story is ‘ChargedUp’, Europe's largest phone charging network that switched its charging stations to hand sanitizing stations and called it ‘CleanedUp’. 

Do the analysis, get the best people on board and act timeously.

We have run out of freeway and are bundu bashing our way to the new business norm. 

We all need to contribute to get the economy going again. We need to stand together, share ideas and build robust plans to help the country pull through this crisis.