Pandemic forces innovation, but expected recession could force businesses to do more

The impact of COVID-19 forces companies in many industries to adapt and innovate quickly. However, even as the pandemic subsides, there is still room for business leaders to continue to adopt Lessons they have learned over the past few years.

“Where are we today… retail is a completely different industry [than in 2019]Kohl CEO Michelle Gass said Tuesday in Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Summit in California. “So much has changed — from living through the pandemic, supply chain challenges, demand spikes, pull back demand, labor. “

But the roller coaster ride may not be over yet, as many experts predict the US will join in Depression next year due Efforts of the Federal Reserve to reduce high inflation with increasing interest rates.

Gass said Kohl’s has been grappling with recession fears and inflationary catastrophes. “We are already starting to feel it,” she said. “We operate in more discretionary categories, as opposed to food and gas, and where many budgets are constrained. And so when we see this happening, we are adapting quickly.”

While Gass acknowledged that her company is shutting down inventory, Kohl’s, like many companies today, is using the current circumstances as a “catalyst for change,” she said. explain. “Typically, the harder things are actually changing your cost structure, changing the structure of the way you’re doing things,” she says.

Retailers are also leveraging customer data like never before. Gass notes that Khol’s serves 65 million customers across the country, and that the chain has more than 30 million people enrolled in its loyalty program.

“For a data enthusiast — because it’s a treasure trove — we can tailor and actually make different offers for Julie and Alan, based on what will keep them motivated to come and shopping,” Gass said. “That, especially in this environment, is incredibly powerful to make sure you’re making an offer to the people who need it, instead of not.”

But using data also comes with challenges, Sweet Juliepresident and chief executive officer of Voice mark. “This is an area where I think everyone intuitively understands that data is important. And I have yet to find a company that really solves the data problems,” she said.

Today, Sweet’s team is spending time talking to CEOs about five key forces of change, the first being “the total reinvention of the business through technology.” Sweet said most businesses have talked about digitization, but reinventing itself goes a step further and requires companies to systematically overhaul everything they do. “That has profound implications for the way you invest and think about the future,” says Sweet.

Talent is the second key — how companies access talent, create opportunities to unlock talent’s potential, and build a path for future growth.

Sustainability, in general, is third. It covers aspects like energy transition, but it’s also about diversity and what companies are doing in the communities in which they operate and how it all translates to the bottom line, Sweet said.

Metaverse is the fourth major force of change, an area in which Accenture in particular has invested heavily, build its own metaverse to introduce and train employees. “I will talk a lot of debate around this, but no company or industry needs to think about what it will be like to get in and out of the virtual and physical worlds and that will happen. how. Sweet said.

Finally, the last aspect is “the ongoing technological revolution,” says Sweet. Companies are investing in this space these days, but Sweet says leaders need to be able to think ahead and really understand how those trends could affect the business. “It’s also an important part of what CEOs and their leadership teams have to do today.”

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