27 June 2022

Cut like a surgeon, not a butcher: Planning for business resilience during the Great Reset

By Adam Gardner, Head of Products

There’s a Great Reset happening across the economy with whole industries and individual organisations staking out their claims and resetting strategies for a world that has moved very quickly towards digital everything.

These are still challenging times where digital resilience equals business resilience but there is also huge opportunity for those that make strategic investments in the right places.

At a high level, the Great Reset focuses around organisations shifting perspectives to better align to today’s climate, whether it be the old way of doing things or the evolving hybrid digital workplace. While the challenges are clear, it’s also an exciting time for business as new ways of thinking, working, operating and transacting continue to present opportunities for positive change and business resilience.

The Great Reset is the closest thing to a blank slate we’ve seen for a long time. It’s a pivotal moment where today’s business leaders have unique opportunities to write their own destiny and create their own moment in history.

Read More - Download the Great Reset insights report

As many organisations revisit and reset their strategic priorities, we’re seeing two key themes emerge.

Resilience, Autonomy and flexibility

Critically, the people attached to a business are looking for experiences that deliver flexibility, autonomy, convenience and resilience. Regardless of whether you’re interacting with a company as an employee, a customer or even a business partner – the universal desire is having complete autonomy and flexibility to get what you need done anywhere, any time.

Read more: Dial up the autonomy and the flexibility will follow in your hybrid digital workplace

Recovery and embracing new opportunity

But it’s not the only priority for businesses. Given the financial wobbles created by COVID – and the whisper of a global recession on the horizon – it’s hardly surprising that another key driver is recalibration of the organisational cost base to support a healthy, productive recovery and ongoing growth.

Think like a surgeon, not like a butcher

In the early days of financial trouble – and this is particularly true in the various industries that were hit hardest during the sudden onset of COVID lockdowns in 2020 – the natural tendency for those in charge is to stop the hemorrhage, so to speak. When money is leaking, the best response might seem to be ‘get the patient to surgery and bandage everything up’.

In other words, reign in all discretionary expenditure, cancel non-essential programs, furlough staff and take any other measures you need to in order to maintain a semblance of respectability in the balance sheet.

This might work in the short term, but history has demonstrated it isn’t an effective long-term business resilience strategy. We know from past global financial shocks that survival after a prolonged economic downturn isn’t about making dramatic, deep cuts. Rather, a delicate balance of cutting for operational efficiency and investing in digital resilience will stand you in good stead.

This is precisely why, historically, periods of economic hardship are always followed by periods of great innovation. Organisations have to pivot, think differently and invest wisely.

Companies that master the delicate balance between cutting costs to survive today and investing to grow tomorrow do well after a recession. Within this group, a subset that deploys a specific combination of defensive and offensive moves has the highest probability—37%—of breaking away from the pack. These companies reduce costs selectively by focusing more on operational efficiency than their rivals do, even as they invest relatively comprehensively in the future by spending on marketing, R&D, and new assets. (Harvard Business Review)

We like to think of it as cutting like a skilled, experienced surgeon rather than a butcher. This means applying a strategic lens to consider what can be saved, and what must be removed for the long-term health and resilience of the business. And like a surgeon, using gentle hands and following the plan methodically.

The other aspect of this, of course, is laying the foundations for the future, which will ensure you are equipped to make repairs, plan rehabilitation, foster growth and once the initial shocks have passed.

Technology’s role in surviving disruption

Whether you’re talking about reshaping the cost base to survive an economic shock or making changes to the operating model to build business resilience and cope with unprecedented demand for your product or service, one thing is clear: technology has a key role to play in the Great Reset. In fact, Gartner reports that more than two-thirds of organisations accelerated their digital initiatives as a result of COVID disruption.

Some of our favourite examples of organisations and industries that embraced surgical-style strategy in their COVID technology response include:

  • Chemist Warehouse pivoted quickly at the start of the pandemic to amp up its existing transformation journey, to service remote workers and ensure their website could cope with the sudden surge in customer traffic.
  • Australia’s mining and resources industry is undergoing significant transformation to cope with adjusted business imperatives since the onset of COVID. This means making smart investments in skills and infrastructure to capture full value of technologies such as automation, IoT and AI. It also means extracting maximum value from technology to optimise business value.

We continue to work in partnership with leading Enterprise and Government organisations to help them navigate the challenges and opportunities of the Great Reset.

Reach out to NEXTDC so we can help you press the reset button on your technology infrastructure and start building digital resilience.