Post COVID-19: Are you assuming a new normal for your industry?

Let us put some perspective around our position. Whilst the interconnectedness of the world of trade is here to stay, a shock to the system of this magnitude is creating a shift in the preferences and expectations of society as people, employees, and consumers. How you interpret these shifts and then position your business to chart a course forward will determine your position success – not just now, but in two years’ time?

Now is not the time to think it will all go back to normal. We need to start to drill down and ask, how will these global businesses and consumer shifts in your industry affect your supply chain, sales channels and simply how you transact? What will be the political implications across regions? And how sensitive to these should you be in your planning?

People across the globe still need to eat, advance technology, stay healthy, mine, manufacture and build, and Australia has so much to offer. There is no one answer, no one quick fix. Discerning a path forward in life or work in a time of change is never easy, but how you go to market – both in a physical sense and a sales sense – will require more planning than ever before for many industries and businesses. It is this planning that will give you the platform to go forward.

Scenario planning in supply

There is a global rethink of our critical component supply, inventory management, and the just-in-time production and supply schedules. This has and will result globally in some manufacturing returning home. We are also seeing companies move to have 2 to 3 key component manufacturers across regions, not just in one country – and it is only just beginning.

Inventory holdings are increasing, and businesses will need to rethink cost structures because of this, as well as cashflow mechanisms to be able to fund an increase in inventory. This is a time to grow in your knowledge of your own unique supply chain and sales channels and determine the best mix of technology and data monitoring to help you report on your needs.

One thing being discussed is we will see companies redesign supply chains that enable them to ‘rapidly reconfigure’ in a time of crisis. To do so, contingency and scenario planning methodology will be important to practice. This mapping and optimisation around the new demand and supply mechanisms are, for many companies, becoming a daily task to stay on top of.

Learn and grow

I think for many businesses, one of the challenges of the new normal is the real-time nature of change. We can go to bed at night, wake up the next morning, and restrictions in one country or another has been either tightened or loosened. Again, we must stay informed. Now is not a time to be stuck in your business, but a time to grow, train and learn.

ECA stands ready to support businesses in this new normal and soon will release a new series of online training programs targeted at helping businesses review their position, and gain further skills to grow in their understanding of what it will take to thrive in the new normal.

Shane Styles

National Skills Development Manager, Export Council of Australia