The COVID-19 pandemic has caused profound shifts to business landscapes worldwide. Companies that adopt their operations accordingly will be best prepared for success in years to come.

Deloitte has developed an adaptable planning framework to assist businesses as regulations continue to tighten, with a scenario-based approach being recommended.

1. Invest in Digital Solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to review how they operate. For many organizations, this involves making permanent adjustments in terms of strategy, management, operations and budgetary priorities; while for others it provides an unforeseen windfall with which they can accelerate investments in digital tech and transformation projects.

McKinsey Global Survey data indicates that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation initiatives within businesses of all regions, industries, and sizes worldwide. Where business leaders had previously been reluctant to change their practices in response to an impending pandemic outbreak, its threat motivated them to move ahead with digital transformation projects quickly.

Not surprisingly, similar patterns emerge when considering other high-probability yet poorly prepared events and their effect on digitalization efforts. For instance, during the Great Depression many firms were forced to embrace digitization to avoid closure due to government restrictions or as an attempt to retain employees.

Future high-probability events that are poorly prepared could present similar opportunities. Businesses who invest in digital solutions and use them to transform their businesses may have an edge over those playing catch up. Digitization doesn’t just involve cool apps; rather it means harnessing digital technologies across your entire operation for operational excellence with automation, innovation agility and speed to market – qualities which digitalization enables.

With so much at stake from digitization, executives should make sure their organizations are equipped to take full advantage of it and have all necessary resources in place. A common misstep many companies make when adapting digital strategies is believing their current systems are enough. By conducting an assessment of your organization’s digital capabilities and capabilities you can identify any gaps and prepare for life post-COVID.

If you need assistance getting started with digital technology or transformation, seek advice from professionals in these areas. A thorough examination of current processes may reveal where you lag behind competitors while offering insight into ways that digitization could increase productivity and boost productivity.

2. Rethink Your Marketing Strategy

COVID required small businesses to think outside the box in order to survive. Many dance and yoga studios began offering video-based classes; art instruction studios established a kit program where customers could safely order lessons online from home; restaurants and boutiques developed online or app-based ordering and pickup systems for customers; this type of innovative thinking will serve you well in our post-COVID world.

Reconsidering your marketing strategy is also key to future-proofing your business. Your messaging and campaigns must reflect what people are experiencing today; for instance, one recent study shows that consumers want marketers to provide more informative and authentic communications from brands.

This shift should also be evident in your digital marketing channels and strategies. A recent study indicated many individuals are prioritizing experiences over material possessions during their free time; as a result, rewards and loyalty programs are becoming more attractive than ever.

As part of your strategic response to COVID, it’s essential that only projects which will help your organization navigate the storm successfully are initiated. Starting too many new initiatives at once could cause resource competition and delay or derail your strategic response plan. If you are unsure where to begin, reviewing customer segments, analyzing needs among audiences and making a list of potential projects may help prioritize efforts without spreading yourself too thin.

3. Rethink Your Supply Chain

As COVID-19 becomes less of a headline topic, companies must begin thinking of ways to strengthen their supply chains more resilient. Yossi Sheffi of MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics notes that while COVID-19 was disruptive to global supply chains, its effects accelerated various ongoing trends such as more regional suppliers being used, end-to-end visibility improving, and moving away from manufacturing in China.

These changes have lasting ramifications for how businesses will manage their supply chains in the future. Sheffi advises business leaders to devise new strategies to protect supply chain risk, reconsider automation use and find more ways to achieve sustainable growth and profit.

So he suggests that companies invest in IoT sensors and AI to gain real-time visibility of their supply chains, collaborate with suppliers and logistics partners to share information and identify risks, as well as build redundancy into their supply chains by including alternate suppliers, backup inventory and redundant logistic capacities.

COVID-19 forced companies to reconsider how they conducted business, including shifting operations online. Dance and yoga studios began offering video-based classes; art instruction firms created kits that could be safely completed at home; restaurants offered food delivery or take-out services.

As the world returns to normal, these novel business models may continue. Companies must therefore prepare for more disruptions – such as outbreaks and government-issued stay-at-home directives – so as to remain customer focused even during trying times. A plan must also be established that can flex with changes so as not to alienate customers during difficult moments.

By taking a careful inventory of their competition, industry, supply chain and business operations, businesses can devise an effective rebound plan to assist with their transition after the COVID crisis and become stronger after its conclusion. They will also benefit from this strategic step as we move into another era in history.

4. Rethink Your Customer Service

Few businesses escaped the COVID-19 pandemic unaffected, and reevaluating your customer service as part of your preparations for post-pandemic environments is key to staying relevant in business. Revamps such as revamped cleaning practices or curbside pickup for stay-at-home orders as well as modifications to POS protocols could all play a key role in keeping all employees informed on how best to interact with customers are essential in keeping everyone working toward creating customer satisfaction.

Customers may still be wary of coming into your business since the pandemic easing. By providing clear information and messaging across your team that addresses their concerns, it will demonstrate your dedication to them and foster greater customer loyalty.

Even in an ever-evolving global environment, relationships remain crucial, and building them is increasingly vital in the coming years. You can do this through various projects tailored specifically for your business and its requirements.