Building resilience in times of uncertainty

By George Ferreira

The recent months have likely been the biggest challenge for all organisations across the continent. With almost no warning, millions of businesses – indiscriminate of size or stature – suddenly went from operating as usual to facing enormous challenges under the weight of uncertainty.

Companies in the region have had to find new ways of working, while establishing new pathways to productivity. Business resilience remains one of the most important and relevant ways for organisations to bypass legacy challenges and to explore new opportunities. Organisations that are paying attention to how digital can reshape their systems are not just readying themselves for the uncertainty of today, they’re fortifying their futures.

Building resilience

In building resiliency, organisations need to focus on building a resilient community amongst employees, customers, partners and suppliers. Having issues of cash flow front and centre forces the cost of talent into the limelight – but it doesn’t mean putting profit before people. This is where the CFO and HR team need to come together, working more closely than ever before. Together, the CFO and HR need to evaluate skills and resources, minimise temporary and long-term loss of staff, and look after their people. All of this will build a resilient business.

Focusing on bringing an overarching view of the health of the organisation is key; data is crucial to shape every discussion, aiding in quick decisions and allowing for agility and innovation. Building resilience is not finance’s job alone, this could be collaborating with the CIO and R&D teams, to ensure any future innovations align with customer strategies as well as the business’ purpose. Or it could mean working more closely with HR to ensure the business can meet changing customer demands.

Right now, cloud based applications such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Human Capital Management (HCM) are immensely valuable as they help build business resilience and innovation in an extremely complicated market. These solutions provide insights that can offer improved control over factors such as supply chain management, inventory and purchasing. They integrate systems and data, connecting systems and information so that data becomes transparent and accessible and relevant. These applications also help the organisation use business intelligence (BI) to analyse data, to create KPIs that are based on strategic targets, and measure performance versus targets to meet goals based on current market conditions.

With this strategic approach, companies are able to manage the complex balancing act more deftly between legacy and adaptability, without whittling away at the bottom line. It has also stimulated greater interest in how digital applications can benefit the organisation. These applications need to support the balancing act between the business and its potential, between the CFO, CHRO, CIO and all lines of business, and ensure that they deliver more value to the organisation.

Learning through others

leading financial institution in Africa decided to invest into a cloud based human capital management (HCM) system so that employees and the executive could gain deeper control over their own career development and performance. The investment was designed to support the company’s new focus on human capital, empowered growth and improved insights into performance. It was a step away from disconnected systems and multiple sources of information towards a more compliant and connected environment that aligned people to strategy and business to market demand.

This is not a unique case study. Organisations around the world are recognising that investing into technology is one of the best ways for any organisation to create an agile and adaptable foundation. Technology is the great enabler as it allows for process, people and systems to pivot to meet new demands or markets.

Right now, the word ‘unexpected’ defines almost every market, company, business and region and its condition. The intelligent applications used by the Africa-based financial institution provided the analytics, strategy and talent management tools that the company needed to embed agility into its workforce. This is an agility needed right now as the SADC region turns to face the ripples of disruption caused by the pandemic. With legacy infrastructure challenges and limited connectivity, the region was working hard to shift into technology gear so it could fully tap into its potential before the pandemic. Now, the situation is somewhat more challenging.

Digital applications and cloud solutions allow companies to gain access to credible data that can be used to fundamentally change how the business operates. From streamlining processes to cutting away dead areas of the business to leaping into entirely new business directions, data can help direct the company’s decision making at critical points in time.

An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is designed to equip the business with resilience and agility. Both of these are beyond vital right now. Why? Because while agility gives businesses the ability to jump and swing when conditions demand, resilience is what ensures the business has what it takes to make that jump, to take that swing.

ERP platforms have evolved so much over the past few years. We can now provide insights into spending patterns, customer demand, market requirements and overall business productivity. If integrated with a cloud based HCM solution, ERP can show the business the hidden corners of essential business operations for almost immediate short-term benefits. Want to know more about business spend, profitability and employee retention? That’s what this technology can reveal.

Organisations should strategically consider adoption of the right tools that answer the most important questions – how can we improve efficiency, how can we transform business process, which areas need prioritisation?

(George Ferreira is the Senior Sales Director for Applications at Oracle South Africa and SADC).


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