Yesterday, I hosted a much pre-Tweeted live session with Brian Sommer and Michael Ouissi, chief customer officer IFS. This was always going to be a fun event and sure enough it lived up to expectations.
We kicked off with a brief assessment of what's happening in the market now. Brian said he is:
Pleasantly surprised at how nimble a lot of companies have been but to call what a lot of them are doing as transformation right now is a little bit optimistic. I think a lot of companies are doing what they absolutely have to do to survive in the short term. They didn't take time to really go out and shop and get the best things or really reimagine the processes maybe as well as they should have.
For his part, Michael added:
I'm also seeing a lot of customers doing it at speed and probably not planning as thoroughly and not being as as complete and strategic in their transformation, but the results they are achieving through this very fast and very nimble transformation approach is essentially something that encourages them to reimagine some of their processes long term. There's a great example of a customer who within two weeks changed their process of how they delivered services repair and maintenance services.
One observation made by everyone was that some of the work being done today will be thrown away while some will remain as companies focus on resilience as part of their survival strategy. In common with other observers Brian noted that companies are working their way through different phases, starting with firefighting then stabilization and on to reinventing themselves for whatever future they see or imagine ahead. His view though is that the old processes that helped run businesses in more stable conditions will not be reinstated - at least not in the same way.
Brian gave the example of HR planning, a topic that's top of mind among many organizations. But I question whether the mindset is right to get the essential changes in place. For his part, Brian believes that functional leaders will need to go outside their organizations to find fresh expertise or run the risk of reinventing the old 'stuff.' Michael was able to call upon examples he's seen where peer leaders within industries have come together in a search for solution ideas.
Moving on, I asked Michael to provide the top three pieces of advice he's giving customers.
First preserve the business, cash management is obvious but also the supply chain. Once I'm through that then I need to build agility into my business model assessing my risks so that I am in the best position to respond when the next wave comes. Finally I need to evaluate my technology enabling partner relationships.
Brian's response was unsurprising but worth repeating:
Companies really, really, really need to think twice about who are their best partners. I'm not sure it's necessarily the technology provider or the service provider that helped you implement a solution 20 or 30 years ago. Don't be afraid to seek true love elsewhere. But I also think we need to acknowledge that we screwed up, we didn't plan and that very often we had supply chians that turned out to be too vulnerable. So for the future, you need to become more aware and to become very cosmopolitan to discover the art of the possible. Nostalgia is not a strategy.
There's a lot more to the conversation which I have posted the audio at the top of this story. If you prefer to see the live version that includes video and a moment of pure comedy gold please check out the LinkedIn session.