Adapt or die: corporate innovation in a post-COVID world

Adapt or die - that well-coined startup phrase now has a more poignant meaning. Literal ironies aside, in the midst of a global pandemic and economic meltdown, never has this mentality been more relevant in business.


It doesn’t take an economist to predict the outcome: corporates who flex the way they work in this dystopian new-normal will survive, even thrive; while those unable- or unwilling- to evolve will suffer.


One thing is clear; the actions corporates take in the coming weeks will determine their fate.


Emergency is an incubator for innovation


But it’s not all doom and gloom. COVID-19 is shaking to the core what we took for granted, but history tells us that crisis can be a catalyst for change. Or, to coin another well-known phrase, necessity is the mother of all invention.


Take the SARS pandemic of the early 2000’s. The outbreak is merited with the astronomical growth of the then little-known eCommerce platform Ali Baba. Consumers, once dubious of transacting online, were catapulted into a world where avoiding human contact was essential to survival, and the ability to shop online became a life-line. Thus began a new era of online retail in Asia. The rest, as they say, is history.


Act fast or die trying


So, how should corporations act today to tap into this silver-lining and avoid becoming a statistic?


Here’s the good news. The challenges businesses are being thrust into, from decimated routes-to-market, to entire workforces working remotely, already have a solution.


Startups.


Let’s break it down. Implementing change in a corporate environment is an arduous process. At a time when adapting at pace is essential to survival, plugging in startup technology that makes an impact in days - not months - is not just smart, it’s plain common sense.


But where to begin? Here are three areas where startups can help you future-proof today:


Upgrade virtual working capabilities


You may be one of the growing number of corporates who have already adopted remote working practices as standard. For the majority, virtual working at this scale is an unprecedented change, and using the right tools will make or break productivity.


Zoom has been heralded as one of the early winners of COVID-19, with download figures rocketing off the charts, and stock prices soaring as the broader market plunges. But what about the lesser-known startups blazing a trail in this space?


Tandem Chat is a virtual office used by technophile teams including Spotify, Dropbox and Airbnb. Tandem Chat combines video-call capabilities with isolation-friendly extras that give it that coveted human touch. The Co-Working feature, for example, lets teams casually hang out with background video or voice chat enabled, to mimic working at the same desk, and help people feel connected. Smart integration with 40+ applications (think Trello, Google Docs, GitHub) allows for seamless collaboration.


Krisp is nifty way to mute background noise, regardless of which video or voice platform you’re using. With schools closed, kids running amok, and spouses and flatmates finding themselves fighting over the kitchen table for a quiet place to take a call, this handy little plug-in comes into its own. With a click of a button, Krisp eliminates background sounds. This might not be the end of cringe-inducing conference calls, but it’s a step in the right direction.


Prioritise employee engagement


Having the right tech tools in place for your now-remote team is essential, but with the lines between work and home-life becoming more blurred than ever, you also need a plan for keeping everyone engaged and able to focus on their work.


Peakon is one startup pioneering this space. An advanced employee engagement tool, Peakon uses smart surveys, integrated into the work day, to gather feedback from employees, understand mood, motivation and sentiment, and deliver results in minutes, not months. Insight is only half the battle. Peakon also provides managers with bespoke training to help them respond to employee feedback and boost engagement


Closer to home at Co:cubed, we’re helping clients engage with employees in the physical world, despite today’s restrictions. The Cube, a physical box delivered directly to employees, includes inspiring content, personal coaching and interactive workshops that are designed to connect with your employees at home, and engage them around the mission of building the future of your company.


Training and up-skilling


With the economy in free-fall and your clients and customers battening down the hatches to pull through, many of your team may have emptier inboxes than usual. Combined with the distractions of working from home, it’s not hard to see how productivity and motivation levels could plummet. The silver lining? This is a perfect opportunity to double-down on training and develop your team.


Mobitrain is a mobile-first training platform purpose-built to boost knowledge retention. Content is delivered through interactive bite-sized micro-learning modules, with gamification to help keep remote teams connected as they learn.


Putting a social spin on development, Pathgather combines formal training with employee crowdsourcing. Team members curate and share their own learning resources with colleagues - from apps, websites, Ted Talks and the like, enabling self-directed learning and peer-to-peer development.


Amidst the uncertainties, one thing is undoubtable. The tools and practices coming into the fore today will not just be a temporary measure, but will change the way we live and work forever. As a corporate, the decision to embrace these new technologies isn’t if, but when.



Co:cubed helps corporates build, buy and partner with startups to scale the latest innovations, unlock new business models and safeguard against disruption. Our approach gives corporate clients immediate access to more than 500,000 startups. We don’t take equity, fees or kick-backs, so you can be sure our advice is pure and unbiased, every time.


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