Unity, data, focus, culture: important steps to build organizational resilience
Managing Director, Customer Value and Transformation Advisory, Google Cloud
It takes the right mix of teamwork and technology to get organizational resilience right. Here's five steps to help jump-start the process.
- Organizational resilience can be tough to achieve, especially when you need it most.
- Leading organizations are looking to technology as much as their workforce to help close gaps and build for the future. Data is a major driver.
- Ensuring flexible ways of working and connections across teams, especially through FinOps, can help discover new areas of focus and savings.
For many CEOs, last year’s macroeconomic shifts — including high inflation, supply chain disruption, increased energy costs, world conflict, and labor market misalignment — have driven a sharper focus on improving business resilience for their organization.
Finding the right balance of operational efficiency and innovation for your organization can revitalize your executive leadership team and power productivity.
Yet knowing where to start building that resilient organization can be a challenge. When organizations are uncertain about their starting point, to say nothing of the ultimate goal, they typically focus on the largest fires first, though they may not prove to be the most serious in the long term. Selecting the wrong area to start with can ultimately hurt the organization on a number of fronts: a costly misallocation of resources in the short term, a long-term loss of support for future projects, and, crucially, wasted time at an economic moment when missteps are magnified and the competition is either ahead or about to be and every decision is imperative.
By first taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, organizations can find the best path forward with the most stable footing and the least number of urgent crises.
Here are five steps that can help build that organizational resilience.
Step 1: Define what resilience — specifically, financial resilience — means to your organization
It’s easy to assume that financial resiliency means the same for every organization, but that’s not the reality. Because organizations have unique goals and are in different financial positions, it’s vital to concretely define what financial resilience means for your company right now. Otherwise, leaders within the same organization can have different visions and definitions based on their own perspectives.
Often leaders make financial decisions based on their preferences and preconceptions, without even realizing that they may not be the same as those of other decision-makers.
Through collaboration at the top, companies can determine a single definition of financial resilience for everyone to use as a basis for decisions. Next, leaders can create a business resilience plan.
As part of defining financial resilience, company leaders should also understand what it means to the organization’s future, both short and long-term. Have leaders describe one future with financial resilience and one without. Discuss what financial resilience means for both the organization’s future and the employees.
Organizations often quickly realize that by building financial resilience, they have the means and flexibility to progress against other goals. With a clear picture of its value, leaders often then view financial resilience as a top priority for the organization.
Step 2: Leverage data as a growth engine and vigorously protect it
Most organizations already have what they need for financial resilience — data. But they also need the ability to analyze that information in real-time and create actionable insights.
Businesses that start with cloud technology have the necessary foundation to create the systems and processes needed to use data to grow by finding new customers, improving processes, and predicting customer behavior. With the cloud, organizations can manage costs, empower employees to innovate, provide flexibility to employees, and improve productivity.
Creating this strong foundation starts with focusing on the following areas:
- Optimizing technology costs: Moving to a data platform saves significant money on IT costs while gaining many benefits, including visibility and the ability to manage varying demands.
- Improving operational efficiency: By using unified data with artificial intelligence and machine learning, businesses can find ways to improve processes that save money — such as with intelligent pricing — and reduce inefficiencies.
- Empower employees: When employees have the tools and data to make noticeable changes at the company, they’re empowered to take the initiative to innovate.
Step 3: Focus on areas that deliver quick wins
Organizations often make the mistake of starting with the company’s biggest problem, which may be too complex and long-term. While some data projects can take awhile to produce results, many initiatives can still deliver quick wins. By starting with smaller projects, organizations can get buy-in from leaders and employees while also closing the gap toward financial resilience. The organization can then apply lessons learned from these successful projects and confidently move on to tackle bigger AI and machine learning initiatives.
One effective area to earn quick wins is through refining supply chain processes. Lack of visibility into these area often causes delays and poor customer satisfaction. By using AI and machine learning, as well as cutting edge digital twins for supply chain visualization, leaders can quickly find inefficiencies and predict potential issues.
Marketing and sales functions offer quick-win opportunities for companies, as well. Data is especially useful here for improving decision making, such as helping to determine which advertising is most likely to convert a specific customer. Data also helps direct marketing funds to the right sources and audience for the biggest returns.
By starting with smaller projects, organizations can get buy-in from leaders and employees while also closing the gap toward financial resilience.
Customer service is another key area leading organizations have focused on. Because customer call centers often cause frustration for both consumers and employees, companies can use AI to manage call volumes and provide other service options, such as chatbots, to increase speed, responsiveness, and even support customer self-service.
Step 4: Partner with your CFO
Moving to a strategy of financial resilience requires a shift from the entire organization, but especially the CFO and the IT department. While organizations have traditionally viewed IT as a cost center, investing in modern technology such as cloud and AI can both save money and grow revenue. By partnering with the CFO to develop a strategy of investing in IT to drive competitive advantage, organizations can move toward financial resilience.
Start the conversation by discussing FinOps, which uses cloud technology for departments to collaborate with the CFO on data-driven decisions. FinOps provides a wide range of departments — including engineering, finance, technology, and business teams — with visibility across the organization.
By using best practices and optimizing cloud costs, organizations quickly realize benefits while shifting the overall culture and attitude toward IT costs.
Step 5: Don’t underestimate hybrid work
By embracing hybrid work, companies can improve engagement, increase job satisfaction, and build collaborative equity. When employees are happy at work, they often provide a higher level of customer service, which increases customer loyalty.
However, employees need scalable and secure tools to get their work done regardless of the device they’re using and their location. With a cloud environment, employees can access data, tools, and apps in real time from wherever they’re working. Employees are then empowered to be as productive as possible while performing their job just as they would in a traditional office.
Achieving financial resiliency often feels like an unattainable goal to many organizations, because there are so many options and paths. By using cloud computing and data, leaders can identify the best way to save money through operational efficiency and identify new opportunities for revenue. With a step-by-step business resilience plan, organizations have a roadmap to follow to more easily weather the financial uncertainty ahead.