If there’s anything that the last few weeks has shown us, it’s that despite the UK’s departure from the European Union we are still very much connected to Europe and the world at large.
At the time of writing, COVID-19 has spread globally, with few countries untouched by this novel coronavirus. UK and Irish governments (along with many others) have brought in and extended ‘lockdown’ policies, putting the emphasis on keeping only our essential services running.
But, as is becoming more apparent with each passing day, those essential services – shopping, healthcare, finance, for example – are no longer national concerns. They are inherently linked to the rest of the world.
The recent surge in panic buying in the UK, for example, has highlighted the interdependency of multiple players in the supermarket supply chain — from FMCG manufacturers like Unilever and P&G, to transportation companies, warehousing and distribution.
And the fragility of these huge global supply chains if just one link were to break is apparent. On 26 March, the BBC reported how the coronavirus has awakened fears about the strength of the hugely complicated supply chains that modern societies depend on.
This might be jarring, but if we are to take something positive from the current situation it is that it highlights the dangers of focusing on the internal.
Even digital transformation strategies tend to be focused inwards: How can we connect our processes? How can we link our data? How can we get departments to talk to each other?
These questions are important. But in a global economy, they’re not enough.
Today, no company is an island. Business, in the most general sense, depends just as much on workflows that connect companies to the massive ecosystems in which they operate as on internal processes.
That means we need to see a major strategic shift. We have to prioritise data, visibility and actionable insights. The days of running a business from a spreadsheet that lives on someone’s laptop are over.
Instead, we need to enable a new era of radical transparency.
What do I mean by radical transparency? I mean a shift from the default being closed doors, proprietary systems and hidden data to a world that is open by default.
We need to be able to see everything and connect everything in a more dynamic way – not just within our own business, but in tandem with our partners and our suppliers.
If we understand the workflows that underpin whole ecosystems, then we can make business easier, more transparent and more impactful.
Using technology, we can define and deliver the dynamic workflows that keep us all connected. And in today’s economic climate, working together has got to be a great thing.