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Demand & Inventory Planning

Just One Word: Migrate

Demand & Inventory Planning
January 7, 2021
6 min read
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Ware2Go’s CEO Steve Denton explores how 2020 changed the way businesses operate from the inside out. He shares experience from the field and how leaders can adapt to stay ahead of quickly-changing social and structural changes in business.

Originally featured on Forbes

By Steve Denton, CEO, Ware2Go

In an iconic scene from the classic film The Graduate, a young Dustin Hoffman is advised to keep a single word in mind: plastics.” Hearing that in the 1960s might be akin to getting a one-word stock tip in the ’80s like “Apple” or “Microsoft.” Each of those nuggets, in their time, became business gold if you were paying attention to the opportunity. Similarly, as we transition from 2020 to 2021, I suggest keeping one word in mind: migrate.

Forward Momentum

Migrating is about forward momentum. Why? Because the best businesses should move nimbly and with speed. They should adjust, pivot, test and try. That’s migration, and if you aren’t thinking about it and actually moving from something traditional to a better alternative, you could be in trouble.

The “forcing function” of adapting to the pandemic has been a key element. We’ve experienced a near-immediate shift to a remote workforce and rapid changes to supply chains across nearly every industry. All these impacts have been game-changers. If you’re not migrating somehow, then you’re likely not in tune with the new realities of 2020 and beyond. From the supply chain to personnel management and new methods of sales and distribution, migration is the key. We’re currently migrating our customers to a new technology platform, which keeps migration top of mind for me every day.

Being an Employer of Choice

For example, when it comes to being an employer of choice, you have to migrate. Recruiting and retaining the best talent is different now. Perks like on-site catering and dry-cleaning services were great when employees were on-site, but today keeping your workforce safe and finding new ways to engage them has become paramount. Firms should develop new ways to train and professionally develop employees while building out an optimized digital workplace comprised of far more than just endless Zoom meetings.

Everyone must adapt, and while many companies are offering new perks, company cultures must learn to survive as the traditional office birthday cake — and more — goes virtual. This will be a particularly big adjustment for many small to medium businesses (SMBs) and midmarket companies, who are accustomed to doing almost everything face to face, including marketing, selling, training, development and customer onboarding. But the migration will occur. Many firms are already on this path; digital transformation was undeniably accelerated by the pandemic. From a management perspective, the transition to managing a distributed, mostly digital workforce is generally easier for larger companies that are already familiar with navigating global operations, but smaller firms can model and emulate their success.

Migrating Sales & Collaboration

The continued digitalization of sales and support means “migration” in the way that customers shop. Many customers now get most of their information from researching online, including review sites. I’ve found that most don’t engage with vendors until a point fairly far down the purchase funnel when they’re ready to talk or buy. Supporting these new sales channels means that another key form of “migration” is to upskill and retool your sales professionals. Empower them to master remote tools because we could be months or even years away from the on-site, in-person sales call or trade show.

Today’s reality means we must go beyond video conferencing to find new forms of collaboration. Solutions will likely include digital sales rooms and augmented or virtual reality (AR/VR) tools, which could help deliver immersive brand experiences that are just as effective as traditional pre-pandemic methods. In addition, more personalized marketing that incorporates carefully tailored content could assist sales organizations in opening new channels — again, migrating from old to new.

Top Lessons Learned

I’ve learned in my own business that assumptions around growth rates for 2020 were not exactly correct. Historical trends have become generally less relevant due to the dramatic shifts brought on by the pandemic. So, for 2021 and beyond, we should temper assumptions based on those norms with a more agile planning process — incorporating pandemic-driven inputs, such as the growth of e-commerce and lower office space requirements.

Another lesson I’ve learned is that companies can operate with a remote workforce much more effectively than we ever thought we could. This new virtual world means that companies forego the “talent versus geography” question when it comes to recruiting. Not only has remote work given us access to a larger talent pool, but we have also been forced to become better and more precise communicators.

The business today world generally understands that most companies don’t need to see employees five days a week. We’ve also learned that customers have changed their expectations and are now more than willing to engage online. My company’s customers are embracing new ways of doing business with us through new channels, new interactions, and new ways of servicing them, leading to new efficiencies and ways of working that will stick with us long after the pandemic has subsided.

To sum it up, migration is really all about new ways of recruiting, learning and thriving. Maybe the word for 2021 is more than a single word, in fact. Forget the current equivalent of “plastics.” I believe success will result from optimism and a firm commitment to flexibility, speed and adaptability.

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