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Plan Now to Exploit Post-Virus Opportunities, Industry Analysts Urge

Geoff Giordano
By Geoff Giordano Contributing Editor, SME Media

While manufacturers grapple with the day-to-day exigencies of the COVID-19 crisis, some industry analysts assert that now is also the time for businesses to prepare to thrive post-pandemic by taking advantage of opportunities likely to emerge.

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Companies most likely to succeed in capitalizing on those opportunities will excel in digital transformation, among other things, according to the April 9 webinar “Market Impact of COVID-19: How to Respond, Reset, and Rebound,” by Aroop Zutshi and Mark Simoncelli of Frost & Sullivan Industry and Strategy Experts.

A more connected approach—across company functions, industries and geographies—will be necessary to rebound from what Zutshi, global president and managing partner, asserted will be a yearlong global recession that will last until at least Q3 of 2021 before a recovery to pre-crisis levels.

Create Three Teams

Near-term ways to combat the downturn, according to Simoncelli, senior vice president Americas consulting, should start with the creation of three teams to tackle crisis management, growth and digital transformation. Daily crisis management meetings should be part of a company’s initial “response” phase, while next recalibrating expectations and forecasting in the reset phase. Lastly, the rebound phase will accentuate implementing long-term structural change and digital maturity.

“Each team needs to be mandated with a very clear focus,” Simoncelli advised. In particular, the growth team “must be mobilized early, and it’s got to be laser focused on identifying and revisiting growth strategies to prepare ways to pivot if necessary. This team needs to be bold, they’ve got to be creative and they’ve got to be driven to find growth opportunities.”

Robust Marketing Efforts Needed

Maintaining robust marketing efforts is another must during the crisis, Simoncelli added, despite the absence of in-person customer interaction and live events. The solution—apparent from the manner in which companies have turned to remote, work-at-home operations, is to:

  • Be relevant: Illustrate how your product or solution is going to help companies amid the crisis. “You might have to reposition your message. Communicate messages that address (customers’) needs and new pain points.”
  • Go digital: Implement marketing tactics that are unique in digital and examine account-based marketing strategy. Consider virtual events and webinars and video content marketing like video white papers, testimonials and interviews.
  • Act fast: As the workforce swarms to the online meeting app Zoom, executing digital marketing programs can be done quickly and yield high-impact results.

For the long haul, Zutshi urged, now is the time for your recovery teams to build a pipeline of growth strategies, identify your competitive edge, strengthen relationships with current and potential customers and evaluate potential partnerships or acquisitions. The areas in which Zutshi flagged growth opportunities include:

  • Equipment: E-commerce replacing traditional distributors
  • Automation: Rapid adoption of digital technologies and a move toward open architecture
  • Inspection: More remote technologies will be used
  • Sensors: High demand for non-contact identification and authentication technologies
  • Life sciences: Small-volume and agile biomanufacturing

If an opportunity is in an area outside one’s industry, don’t discount it out of hand, he cautioned. “You may be missing out on some incredible opportunities. All these industries are interdependent.”

Focus on the Rebound

While it may seem as though long-term planning is impossible when devoting most or all of a company’s resources to managing through the current crisis, Simoncelli stressed that it is critical to carve out a cross-functional growth team “to focus solely on the rebound” and “identify the portfolio of opportunities across different time horizons” then “figure out the appropriate go-to-market approach.”

Added Zutshi: “We will come out of this crisis. We’ve done it in the past. When we come out, we need to be prepared. … If you’re not prepared you lose on both ends—now and later.” So now is exactly the time to assess various scenarios, how industry segments might be involved and how buying behaviors are likely to change—especially now that company leaders are working at home and available. “I suspect many of the current changes will be everlasting,” he concluded.

For information on how to access the webinar, click here.

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