What is a Necessity for Business?

Digital Transformation Dubai

In the second part of our new series: ‘What is a necessity?’ We look at how businesses can re-evaluate priorities since the pandemic and the surprise savings that have occurred…

A few months ago, Paris should have been filled with the fashion pack. Summer time is Haute Couture season as well as tourist season. The city becomes a glitterati of the industry’s most well-heeled and prominent figures attending shows like Dior, Chanel and Valentino.

Instead, the city was sparsely made up of Parisians and a smattering of European tourists, gingerly emerging from months of sequestered living.

For the first time ever, the bi-annual sartorial spectacle was digitized. The National reported that the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture confirmed “each house will be represented in the form of a creative film or video.” This new approach to fashion weeks, between Haute Couture and Ready-to-Wear, marks an unprecedented move in the experience of high fashion.

Talks are already underway to make remote collection viewings a permanent fixture in a post COVID-19 world. Virtual fashion experiences may lack the personalized element that comes with these high octane productions but Vogue Business stated, “You think tech and analogue experiences are polar opposites, but if you unite them, you will come out with something really interesting. Virtual showrooms, which make use of 360-degree imagery, allow for better data and communication between brands and buyers.”

Digital Transformation Dubai

Kristin Savilia, CEO of data analytics company, Joor, said digitizing collections and shows “is a good thing for the industry because it leads to transparency, quicker order turnaround times and easier communication.” Indeed, Joor, who enable virtual showrooms for brands including Loewe and Proenza Schoules reportedly saw the average value of each order placed increase by 400 percent, compared to 2019 figures.

For an industry that contributes to 10 percent of annual global carbon emissions per the United Nations Environment Programme, the omission of international travel not only hurts the planet less, but also the purse strings, too. On a similar train of thought, Connie Chan, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, a private American venture capital firm, said of virtual fashion presentations: “The idea of what is possible should dramatically open up and the costs should go down.”

 

COVID-19 triggered immediate profit and loss impacts on businesses across the world. We all know that companies have initiated short-term liquidity and measures like discretionary spend cuts, temporary, and/or permanent workforce reductions, forcing introspection on what is and isn’t a necessity to maintain business continuity. Most at risk are the SMEs, which according to Harvard Business School, the average small business has enough cash reserves to last just 27 days, but Main Street (small independent) businesses often have less than 20 days’ worth of reserves.

One of the easiest ways to save money during a particular time like now, is to purchase necessities only. This means no new expenditures that aren’t needed straight away save for better and cost-effective alternatives. If the fashion industry – a world that is largely tactile – can replicate the same visceral and meaningful momentum with augmented and virtual reality, while curtailing significant overheads at the same time, then any industry can leverage on the creative possibilities of digital.

Helping companies with their digital creativity is what Evoke International has been working with clients on for years: digital transformation – which is not only a necessity, it is a core mandate to driving businesses into the future. While scaling down on certain activities and making relevant changes i.e., reduced workforce and working from home as necessary in the short-term, longer-term strategies need to be focused on investing in resources that will enable a robust business model where performance will still be able thrive amidst a global collapse. That’s not to say the costs going in to new technologies and processes are not substantial in the immediate sense. But the return on investment is ten-fold and crucially, sustainable.

One such all-inclusive resource within Evoke International’s end-to-end service capabilities, is our Conflict/Commercial Analysis Software Tool (CAST) – the ‘why?’ engine which provides the foundation for everything we do, allowing businesses to maximise profitability and minimize cost.

Data is the new oil, as the adage goes – it is the 21st century’s most lucrative and essential commodity. CAST equips businesses with a complete 360° data-fueled and simulation-supported picture of the world, your competitors, your customers, and how wider events and the market, is and will affect business. The approach, models and methodologies developed in CAST have been verified by the U.S. Government and independent bodies as having over 90% accuracy in predicting and shaping thousands of political, social, economic and business outcomes.This is a real contextualized understanding by translating data into useable information that generates insights for global, governmental and corporate strategies, investments, marketing and most importantly sales – creating a true understanding of why consumers/citizens are making the choices they are, who they really are, what they really want and how to deliver it to them.

Necessity for Business - Digital Transformation Dubai

The value and outcomes brought on by CAST are indispensable. CAST further drives data driven decision making for senior leadership through our analytics tools designed for C-suite executives and powered by data, analytics and AI – guiding leadership with predictive modeling in real time.

Here’s a round up of the expected outcomes:

  1. Close High Value Transactions and Negotiations with the Best Deal.
  2. Anticipate, Mitigate and Shape Political Social and Economic Outcomes Predict Current and Alternative Outcomes.
  3. Test Potential Tactics in Advance to Weaknesses, Risk and the Winning Strategy.
  4. Understanding Most Likely Scenarios, Risks and Uncertainties Through the 360° Contextualization.
  5. Feasibility of Agreements on Commercial Negotiations, Anticipate Regulations or Political Influence Outcomes.
  6. Manage Stakeholder Complexity – Competing Perceptions, Interests and Capabilities – By Shaping Positive Outcomes.
  7. Predict Consumer buying habits, will to spend and why, and increase conversion.
  8. Digital Media Insights Planning Tool to plan effectively consumer segmentation, data driven personalization based on behavioral targeting and seeding.
  9. Effectively plan digital media buys across multiple channels and platforms paid owed and earned.

Our areas of application include: geopolitical risk, business intelligence, investment, due diligence, regulatory risk, dispute resolution, contracts, negotiations, board and business strategy, digital transformation, media campaign planning and infrastructure development among many other areas. We also offer models specially designed for governments and institutions grappling with how to develop current and future scenarios for COVID-19 including financial, social, political and supply-chain modeling leveraging big data and AI through CAST.

CAST is ultimately a sustainable cost reduction program because it is a permanent structural measure that will cut the costs of ‘second guessing’ and ‘stabbing in the dark’ that would mount over time. CAST enables you to develop a clear target picture for a company with guaranteed longevity including the future core business model and operating model, while also defining profitability targets, profit and loss goals.

The pandemic has left many businesses in an open wound. CAST not only stops the bleeding, it starts the healing.

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What is a Necessity?

Evoke International

In our new series: ‘What is a necessity?’ We look at how the pandemic has forced businesses to reshaped priorities and source the most effective ways to take stock and grow. We begin with harnessing effective communication in a digital-driven landscape
Many months down the line, it has now transpired that the ‘new normal’ was not just a trend we waited to pass like a forgettable fad. The ‘new normal’ has now firmly settled in the ‘normal’ category. That disarray we all fell into when COVID-19 disrupted the status quo in March 2020 was unknowingly an adjustment period to how we live our lives now.

Wearing a mask has the equivalent normalcy to slipping on a pair of shoes before heading out the door – without it, the body feels incomplete. Maintaining social distance is part of muscle memory in the same way we used to reflexively shake each others’ hands or go in for a hug. These new codes are not just stand-ins understudying while we wait for a return to bygone days – they are permanent roles in a new world narrative.

Effective Communication

Although some prior formalities are slowly reemerging from hiatus, the fact of the matter is, we are officially a remote world. We thought the working from home period was a holding pattern until usual operations would eventually reinstate again – but the ‘holding’ element has dropped and the pattern remains for the most part. According to Gartner, a U.S. global research and advisory firm, who surveyed 317 CFOs and business finance leaders, found 74 per cent of those surveyed expect at least 5 per cent of their workforce who previously worked in company offices will become permanent work-from-home employees after the pandemic ends. Similarly, the online portal for statistics, Statista, highlighted a survey conducted by Swiss business publishers, getAbstract, which revealed 43 per cent of U.S. full-time workers in the U.S. would like to work remotely more often after COVID-19, citing the absence of a commute, added flexibility and productivity gains as the main motivations behind that wish.

The shifting plates of the workforce landscape speaks to the Gulf region, too. Around 80 per cent of workers in the UAE want to continue working from home in the post-Covid-19 period because they can save time and money by avoiding a daily commute, according to a new survey by global staffing firm Robert Half as reported by Khaleej Times.

In as much as the pandemic has dictated a new world order, it’s the people (the most affected) who have ultimately spoken as a result.
As we previously outlined and explored in our earlier series for The Mind Lab, COVID-19 has begged many questions about what needs to change in the world of business to effect more substantive and future-proofed processes to not only weather future storms but to align with the ‘new normal’.
The central inquiry is, what is a necessity in a COVID-19 word? The pandemic has undeniably reshaped priorities.

It is always good for businesses to adopt new strategies and audit opportunities, threats, strengths and weaknesses as a kind of spring cleaning and health check for the company. COVID-19 however, has added in a new dimension for examination, which takes those pulse checks and revamps to an industrial level. As a result, organizations need to learn to use a much wider-angle lens to revaluate their processes for the greater good of effective communications to make sure what is being actioned is being actioned for the right reasons.

International travel, in-person meetings, client lunches and other reasons to be off-site may not be a thing of the past but they certainly are not the priority or a necessity anymore. While countries are opening up their economies once more, time has proven that business can be accomplished at a distance. But now that employees, clients and CEOs are not in the same rooms as each other, bar Zoom, how is effective communication still being harnessed? What does that look like? What is and isn’t working? What and where are the cracks that need to be filled?

Communication is a key necessity. If you’re experiencing productively loss, it’s likely that communication and the codification of that communication is lacking. Most companies have turned to platforms like Slack, Zoom, Trello and Asana to streamline communication and tasks where working from home is concerned. But as form-fitting as these platforms are, messages have the tendency to flood all over the place and teams then have difficulty getting questions answered directly, meeting deadlines, and receiving empathy from the top. This not only lengthens processes, it leads to more unanswered questions.
Online can be tricky terrain for getting a point across. It’s important to note you should never assume someone understands what you’re saying. It is often presumed communication is the same online as it is face-to-face. However, while virtual communication allows us to communicate faster, easier, and at our own convenience, it lacks feedback, connection and a sense of control. In a face-to-face interaction, we signal emotions, attitudes, tone and intent through our body language. This is difficult to achieve virtually, leaving most virtual communication misunderstood.

Effective communication is a learned skill whether on or offline. It can be taught through company-tailored training provided by a company like Evoke International who can come in and assess systems of operations and codify new processes after truly understanding what your long- term goals are and speaking with your team, as a whole, to understand the nuances at every level. We will be able to peel away from the jumble and make the ‘what, where, why and how’ clear for everyone. Teams seek information to contextualize their work – we teach teams how to effectively question and articulate their needs so that everyone has an equal opportunity to voice their feedback and feel they are part of a collective as an individual – streamlining work process, increasing productivity and gaining buy-in from employees.

It’s safe to say there is no longer a question of moving to a digital platform, because it’s a downright necessity. But with a death of platforms to choose from, it doesn’t mean you should pick the first one off the bat for convenience – but really look into what you want to be able to achieve through that platform and it’s ability to grow and adapt with you. Effective communication comes from trial and error, hashing out what works and moving on from what doesn’t. But you also don’t want to let that trial and error bog down the company through the transformation process. We have the unique ability of being able to troubleshoot from the beginning and alleviate companies ‘reinventing the wheel’ by bringing in best practices, defining roles, responsibilities and mitigating risk. The way we were, is not the way we are and change is hard for companies and individuals alike – therefore we have to address issues from the get-go to ensure teams are fully heard and understood and feel comfortable. In the day-to-day runnings, it’s important to check-in frequently, co-ordinate one-on-one meetings as well as larger scale online ‘huddles’. It is also important to understand that companies and personnel only get out of their platforms, what they put in and creating those new habits is a constant effort of change for the greater sustainability. The ‘new normal’ probably still feels quite surreal and isolating for teams used to doing everything in person but that’s not to say you cannot achieve that camaraderie by creating spaces for private chats for colleagues to engage in useful and relationship-building discourse. By the same token, a guideline on decorum must be instilled to create the look and feel of business professionalism at home – whether that is emoji etiquette, dress code or establishing what is an acceptable amount of times you can contact the CEO on WhatsApp, if at all. The necessity in all of this is to digitize IRL processes for a world that is moving further away from brick and mortar in every sense of the word.

We are still in a vacuum. If the rule book is rewritten now, it stands as a blueprint for the future.

Next up in our series, we put a spotlight on business necessity

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