Adapting Business Models to Thrive in Uncertain Times | Gotransverse

When COVID-19 shut down cities across the United States in March (Friday the 13th here in Austin, to be specific), businesses in every industry were launched into survival mode. For a minute there, everybody froze as schools and office buildings emptied, restaurants and retail stores closed down, and “social distancing” became everybody’s favorite new buzzword.

But very quickly, we saw something incredible start to happen: businesses began to adapt. Restaurants began offering curbside pickup, delivery companies expanded their operations, and the most agile companies in every industry found ways to complete years-long digital transformation initiatives in just weeks — even days.

Now, more than eight months later, though most of us are still working from home, the virus is still a serious threat, and the economy is still on precarious footing, we’re no longer operating in the same frantic “emergency mode” as we were when this all started. We’re settled into our home offices, learning how to balance school, work, and life, and we’ve (mostly) got the hang of unmuting ourselves before we talk on Zoom. That’s not to say things are easy by any means, but what was once a frantic effort to determine up from down has evolved into a fairly regular daily life. Remember that “new normal” we were waiting for this spring? It seems like, for the foreseeable future, at least, it’s here.

And for most businesses, that’s good news. While “business as usual” is a thing of the past, it means the focus can shift from day-to-day survival and into finding the most effective ways to meet customers’ needs as they’ve evolved (and as they continue to evolve). So what do businesses need in order to adapt to the new demands of this new and changing landscape?

Creativity

When restaurants closed back in March, the ones that stayed afloat were the ones that could think creatively about their business models, shifting to grocery stores, creating virtual tastings, and packaging to-go cocktail kits. And restaurants weren’t the only industry getting creative. Nonprofits moved their annual fundraisers online, brick-and-mortar retailers turned their stores into fulfillment centers, and event rental companies began using their equipment to create COVID screening tents and other support infrastructure for the medical community.

What do all these organizations have in common? They were able to think creatively. When they found their usual services and products were no longer in demand, they found new ways to operate so they could remain relevant to their clients and in their communities. Even as we settle into this “new normal,” the fact is that we’re still in uncertain times, and businesses who can look past “how we’ve always done it” to identify what works now will have a leg up as things continue to evolve.

Empathy

The businesses that have been most successful in the last eight months have succeeded in large part because they’ve looked for ways not just to promote their brands or their products but to meet the community’s ever-changing needs. When consumers needed hand sanitizer, liquor companies began making it themselves. When consumers needed safe ways to get groceries, stores grew their curbside pickup offerings, and HEB expanded Favor’s delivery coverage to 75 new markets within a week in order to get foot into homes. Management consultancies shifted their focus to supporting client companies’ shifts from boardrooms to chat rooms, and realtors created virtual home showings to keep potential buyers safe.

We know that good business is always about fulfilling customers’ needs, and those needs are always changing. But never have customer needs changed as quickly or as wholly as they have this year. The companies that are leading in their industries are the ones that operate with empathy, putting their customers’ needs (not to mention their employees’) first.

Agility

Of course, all the creativity and empathy-based planning in the world is ineffective if businesses don’t have the systems in place that make them agile enough to change with — or better yet, ahead of — the times. Businesses that want to stay ahead in uncertain times need to be able to disrupt their own models quickly, turning on a dime as the market shifts, as they gain new insight into customers’ needs, and as they devise new ways to provide relevant value in their communities. Without the ability to implement efficiently, the most promising new business model is likely to become obsolete before it can even launch.

An important system driving a company’s agility (or lack thereof) is its billing platform, which manages quote to cash process and can either enable or seriously hinder a company’s ability to get new products and services to market quickly. Unfortunately, MGI Research found that only 29 percent of companies can introduce new pricing plans in less than four weeks, and 32 percent report experiencing “time-to-market challenges” when implementing new pricing paradigms. In a world that’s changing as fast as it is in 2020 (and even as fast as it was way back in 2019, if you can remember that!), four weeks is far too long to make a change.

It’s likely the companies that are struggling are using legacy billing systems that simply aren’t designed to pivot quickly. “Outdated back-office financials are not designed to handle agile billing, so it's harder to create the kinds of innovative offerings customers expect,” said Gotransverse founder and CEO James Messer in a recent Forbes article. “These older systems inhibit companies from adapting their product and service mix to offerings that consumers want and expect.”

The solution for these companies being held back by their legacy systems is to invest in modern, cloud-based platforms that were designed with change in mind, and that empower companies to pivot as they anticipate and learn more about customers’ changing needs in order to build long-term relationships and build the bottom line.

To learn whether the Gotransverse platform could help your organization adapt to the continued uncertainty we’re facing even in this “new normal,” we invite you to take a tour of the Gotransverse platform today. Then, when you’re ready, call us to schedule your complimentary, personalized demo.