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Leaders On the Impact of COVID-19: Stepping Up Innovation

“COVID-19 has opened people’s eyes for the power of digital in supply chain and logistics. Those that open their minds will make the leap. The talent to build the new solutions is out there. Go and get it.” – Wolfgang Lehmacher.

By: Leah Kinthaert, Contributor


Wolfgang Lehmacher, Supply Chain and Technology Strategist, Former Head of Supply Chain and Transport Industries, World Economic Forum

Our disrupted lives post COVID-19 will indeed never be the same, but irrevocably changed; however we will enter into this “Next Normal” invigorated, transformed, and ready to connect again. As Wolfgang Lehmacher explains: “COVID-19 has opened people’s eyes for the power of digital”. Perhaps one of the biggest things that COVID-19 has exposed are the flaws in our global supply chain systems – shown most dramatically in global healthcare workers in some of the wealthiest countries in the world being “dangerously ill-equipped” to deal with the crisis. However, almost overnight we saw corporations, groups and individuals step up to deal with the challenges. It’s this proud legacy of hands-on problem solving and innovation we can take into our “next normal”; and as Wolfgang Lehmacher explains, those companies that invest in the best talent and technology will come out on top.

We decided to do a deep dive into how COVID-19 is impacting our global customers so we could share this crucial data with them and with you, the reader. Why are people in sectors from the life sciences to maritime innovating? Where are they doing it? How successful are their efforts? We surveyed our customers, our speakers and thought leader contacts of Informa Connect, to ask them how their organizations are responding to the crisis. Our initial research told us that the most important changes happening right now in organizations fell into these categories: how organizations manage crises, both before and after COVID-19; the shift to online and working from home or other changes in the workplace; how companies are trying to be relevant to their customers; and lastly, how they have applied innovations with new business initiatives or products and creating efficiencies. We’re offering our exclusive findings here, in this first-of-its-kind multi-sector report on The Future of Business Post COVID-19.

In our report The Future of Business Post COVID-19, 87% of survey respondents say they believe that COVID-19 has impacted the need for digital transformation for businesses and 70% of those surveyed said they expect things to go back to normal with the caveat – there will be “some change in the way things are done”. Whether you are management or entry level, there is no one in business who is not right now reevaluating what they do for their companies and their customers. Wolfgang Lehmacher advises large companies look to startups for inspiration in his article: “How startup power can eliminate pain points in the time of pandemic” explaining how startups are helping the business world through this pandemic with everything from assistance to working from home to cybersecurity and innovative supply chain solutions.

Annobio Morelix takes it a step further, calling the post-pandemic economy “The Great Reboot” reminding us in Inc. that “half of the Fortune 500 companies started during a contraction, and… more than 50 unicorns started in the Great Recession”. He recommends that businesses “take advantage of the opportunities in complements and substitutes” that this reboot has to offer. CNBC even offers this inspiration to would-be entrepreneurs: “it might not be such a crazy idea to start a company right now” and the “coronavirus pandemic is in many ways serving as a ‘catalyst to creation’”. This HBS Working Knowledge blog explored some of the ways companies are applying innovation – from “Just Walk Out” technology “that combines computer vision and AI to bill customers directly as they walk out of the store” to museums and galleries continuing their arts’ mission through online engagement. In another HBS blog article “Shift Your Organization from Panic to Purpose” the authors explain that “this moment provides a rare chance to reflect on why we’re in business to begin with.” They continue: “There may never be a better time to activate in this way. For once, leaders can boldly let brand purpose drive business decisions.”

Whether you are interested in business strategy and innovation, or want to see what sectors such as the life sciences, energy, marketing, finance and human resources are up to post COVID-19 – our new Informa Connect report The Future of Business Post COVID-19 offers a wealth of information on how businesses are responding and thriving.