It’s The Next Normal React; Recover; Reflect; Re-imagine…. JAD … just another disruption!

Channel businesses in technology are amongst the most adaptable in any business sector, and we should be well-accustomed by now to adjusting to seismic changes


What are we waiting for?


All this talk about ‘what is the new normal?’ misses the point. Disruption happens and, when it does, you need to be ready to get going. Instead the mindset should be around ‘the next normal’; this being the latest in a long line of disruptive changes that some of us will adapt to better than others.


My problem with ‘the new normal’ is the waiting for it to be defined. Somehow as if we in the dynamic, global IT channel must hang around until the paint is dry, agonising over some unreachable finality that doesn’t exist and never will.


Because things were never static before; there was never a constant state of certainty about IT consumption models, working practices or anything else. If you believed there was then you were never going to cope with change like this.


Thinking in terms of ‘the next normal’ means continuing your journey without delay and adapting as you go. Not waiting for perfection or certainty; not being afraid to fail, adjust and succeed.


How cruel that, before Covid-19 blew up, the word “disruption” was becoming very passe in public debate. Some would baulk at “disruption” because of its negative overtones. But, given the scale of the Covid-19 tragedy, it seems apt to use that word to describe today’s events.


As the tsunami wave of Covid-19 eventually begins to recede, I hope I don’t speak out of turn by viewing the disruption in a positive light for our industry – an opportunity to support and help our customers get through this better enabled and protected by technology.


But no one is helping anyone by being hesitant and confused!


Exclusive is charting a 4-phase evolution of market consensus. We saw the initial impact of the novel coronavirus result in a ‘React’ phase where businesses implemented quick fixes to sustain operations going into lockdown. That then stabilised somewhat into a ‘Recover’ phase where attention shifted to optimising new working patterns and business processes.


The malaise of Phase 3 comes next, which businesses are going into right now. This ‘Reflect’ phase is characterised by enterprise uncertainty about what to do next and gives rise to the inward-looking “what is the new normal?’ debate described above. My argument is that we need to shake customers and partners out of this phase as quickly as possible and onto the inevitable Phase 4: Re-think. (re-imagine)


The mindset should be to jump to this final phase now, rather than wait for the ‘late majority’ to arrive sometime in late Summer, early Autumn. For us, re-thinking needs re-imagining of new ideas, leadership and advanced technology. It’s all about rebuilding for growth in a shell-shocked economy trying to get back on its feet.


And it isn’t just Exclusive charting this trajectory. McKinsey’s post-Covid advice talks about ‘restarting’ and ‘relaunching’ with very similar principles. The Kaizen Institute’s framework culminates in two final stages they describe as ‘Reconstruction’ and ‘Reimagination’, where businesses begin ramping back up their customer experience, selling capacity, service delivery and product development, before reviewing business and innovation strategy soup to nuts.


But again my issue is not the framework but the waiting. The Kaizen Institute estimate ‘Reconstruction’ will start no earlier than mid-June and ‘Reimagination’ in September. They are probably right, but what is stopping you from pushing the envelope now?


Channel businesses in technology are amongst the most adaptable in any business sector, and we should be well-accustomed by now to adjusting to seismic changes. Enterprise IT solutions and the way they are deployed and used are unrecognisable from just a few years ago.


Distribution has seen its fair share of disruption too, with the radical concept of exclusivity, the evolution from capex to opex-based IT consumption, cloud, new managed services, hybrid solutions, seamlessly global go-to-market and project implementations, and lifecycle financing.


We’ve never seen anything like Covid-19 before, but we have always thrived from disruption.


So, what are we waiting for?