It seems beyond doubt that the coming weeks and months will be a very trying time, for the consulting industry and for many others. Sectors such as aviation, retail and hospitality will have it worst, but the combined effects on the economy will inevitably drag down almost every sector. Yet, within this gloom, there is the glimmer of an opportunity waiting to be grasped for those companies that are able to invest in themselves and prepare to emerge stronger.

After a recession comes a period of growth and those companies that survive will be able to reap the benefits in the coming years.

Those companies that, during the 2008/9 financial crisis, invested in their processes and underpinning technology were those that were able to benefit the most in the early years following that crisis. Those that stagnated, or went into hibernation, weren’t able to capitalise when the economy picked up.

Things are already changing at pace; we now see companies being forced to adopt remote working protocols that would, for many, have been unthinkable six months ago. When this is over, there will be opportunities to rationalise real-estate, as well as enjoy the productivity benefits that working from home is shown to bring.

 

Automation as an opportunity

In a similar vein, we are already seeing companies progressing with their automation programmes and looking into starting new initiatives in that area because they know that this is the time to double-down on their business.

 

It’s of particular relevance for  two key reasons:

 

  1. The opportunity cost of investing in technology is lower.

When the economy is booming, the drive is to maximise the amount of effort spent on production because there is a direct correlation to profits. When demand is down, there is organisational capacity to invest in improvement and technology, and the ‘cost’ of taking those resources away from production is lower.

 

  1. Change lowers barriers.

Change, as I mentioned above, is already being forced on us. When things are working seamlessly, or rather when things ‘aren’t broken’, they don’t need fixing. Currently, so many processes are already having to change to adapt to circumstances, and the rate of new technology adoption is increasing for the same reason; meaning the organisational barriers to change are lower.

In addition to the above, we should also not miss the advantage remote working gives us in terms of progressing with automation – it actually makes it easier to capture data and processes. This allows us to make rapid, informed decisions on what is suitable and what the ROI would look like. It’s simpler to record an MS Teams or Zoom meeting than it is to look over someone’s shoulder and try to keep track of things, but that is often what is expected in normal circumstances.

 

 

This is all useful to us because, when it’s all said and done, automation enables and facilitates cost-effective service delivery at scale. While volumes might be down at the moment, we can confidently project an increase as the economy improves and now is the time to prepare for that so that your business can take advantage when it arrives.

 

Joe Wheatley, Practice lead, Automation and AI, Triad Group Plc

A results-focused leader in the consulting space around automation and AI, with a range of project and programme delivery management experience across the banking, insurance, infrastructure, technology, outsourcing, recruitment and FMCG sectors in the UK, EU and USA.

 

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