1. Customer behaviors
The EY Future Consumer Index has found that customer behaviors have changed significantly in response to COVID-19. Consumers are becoming more careful with their money as the pandemic continues and they fear the impact of recession. Almost half (48%) of consumers surveyed for the index said that they wanted to postpone the purchase or replacement of big-ticket items, such as automobiles, furniture and appliances, until after the pandemic is over. So, against this backdrop of ongoing consumer caution, private businesses are assessing how the pandemic has impacted their customer base to date and how they forecast it to change further going forward. They are evaluating which measures they need to take in response to these developments – for example, greater investment in digitalization.
2. Workforce optimization
Private businesses are looking closely at their workforce in light of the pandemic. Do they have too few or too many people to fulfil their current business requirements? What skills will they need going forward? Also, how can they equip their people with the technological skills they will need to work effectively and securely? In future, some organizations may start to look at whether they can use artificial intelligence to streamline processes and augment their human workforce.
3. Outsourcing opportunities
Since cost reduction is one of the most pressing issues faced by private businesses today, they are looking at opportunities to outsource certain functions and roles. For example, they may want to outsource their legal department or finance and tax team. In some cases, they are even exploring whether they can outsource their entire back office function to a third-party provider.
4. Supply chain resilience
The pandemic highlighted vulnerabilities in many supply chains. As a result, private businesses are reviewing their supply chains to identify where their risks lie. Were certain suppliers unable to continue supply during lockdown? Or if the business has a supplier in a single location, is too much risk associated with that? Can they find another supplier, either domestically or based overseas? Once a business has found the weaknesses in its supply chain, it can then develop a strategy to make that supply chain more sustainable.
As more and more information is exchanged and stored online, private businesses are paying greater attention to cybersecurity. They are doing health checks of their systems to identify possible weaknesses and they are investing in technological tools to strengthen the security around the information they hold. Reputation is a huge concern for all private businesses – their customers need to trust that their investment in cybersecurity is adequate.