Performance: Creating a better normal

The phrase “new normal” has become commonplace in 2020 as people globally try to imagine how a post-pandemic world will look and function. In business, the evolution to a different kind of new normal—a result of the marriage of physical assets and advanced digital technologies known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution—has been transpiring the past few years.

Each concept of what someday may be considered typical is driven by very different considerations. But at Deloitte, we see significant overlap in these visions of the future. In both, there’s more reliance on technology, altering the ways people do work and interact with their clients. There’s more resiliency and flexibility built into planning and processes so that businesses can pivot quickly when needed. And there’s greater cooperation among entities with shared interests, allowing them to be more innovative and less vulnerable.

These changes already were in motion when the pandemic shifted them into overdrive. Businesses of all stripes, from family owned shops to the largest multinational conglomerates, were forced to rapidly reevaluate and revamp every aspect of their operations. Whether they were ready or not, the future of work arrived ahead of schedule—and it is more layered and complex than most had anticipated.

Many shortcomings of business, government and society were exposed by the crisis, faults that must be addressed as lockdowns lift and commerce cautiously resumes. Repairing the damage is critical, but the world cannot simply return to the way things were. We have an opportunity to reimagine work—and reshape the world—so that future adversities are more predictable and manageable.

Deloitte excels at helping businesses both manage the unexpected and anticipate and adapt to long-term trends. One example is the Deloitte COVID-19 Global Recovery Navigator, which consolidates and enables analysis of key health, social, and economic data to inform government and private sector decision making and activities based on actions taken by others around the world. This unique dataset brings together measures implemented and subsequently relaxed by nearly 200 countries, in addition to traditional COVID-19 case and testing information from around the world, enabling leaders to identify trends and design data driven recovery strategies. By connecting technology, cross-industry insights and deep domain knowledge, Deloitte is making a tangible contribution in the battle against COVID-19 and the economic and societal damage the pandemic has caused.

In the wake of the pandemic, Deloitte firms also helped many clients quickly virtualize their operations and develop crisis response plans using Deloitte’s resilient leadership framework—a collection of recommendations CEOs can implement to blunt the crisis’s impact and enable their organizations to emerge stronger.

As the world slowly reopens, it will do so in a landscape that lives and works in radically different ways. That will place tougher demands on business, from how and where they meet their customers, to safety measures that offer employees and the public peace of mind. To embrace and sustain nontraditional work environments, organizations may need to rethink real estate needs, employee benefits and incentives, staffing, culture, communication protocols and, of course, physical and cloud-based computing requirements and cybersecurity.

Deloitte’s job is to guide businesses through this journey—and make the case for advanced technologies such as the cloud, artificial intelligence, cyber and other digital transformations where and when they fit. This applies as much to Deloitte firms as it does to their clients.

Another lesson from the pandemic is just how connected the global community is. It took less than eight months for a virus borne in one city to infect more than 22 million people in nearly every part of the world. Yet, while the rallying cry of “we’re all in this together” swept the globe, countries found themselves competing against one another for limited resources. Instead of cooperating to fight the virus effectively and aggressively, they took independent, siloed approaches that slowed progress.

And so it is with business. As Industry 4.0 continues to evolve, organizations that work together stand a much better chance of succeeding than those that try to go it alone. For Deloitte clients to deliver for their customers, and for Deloitte firms to deliver for their clients, we must continue to emphasize and embrace a connected approach. From alliances with the hyperscalers operating big cloud platforms to government-backed programs and services to ecosystems of problem solvers, relationships are even more critical to the world we now live in.

The pandemic has highlighted in very stark and real ways the importance of trust to building a strong economy and healthy, well-functioning society. In many countries, organizational trust was in decline before the pandemic hit because many people don’t believe institutions have their best interests in mind.

To rebuild businesses, it’s necessary to rebuild the trust in and of all stakeholders. Trust is cultivated by demonstrating an ability to address unanticipated situations and a steady commitment to address the needs of all stakeholders in the best way possible.

At Deloitte, we’re committed to applying what we’ve learned—throughout our 175-year history and especially during the pandemic—to meet this moment and help Deloitte clients emerge from it even more resilient. When we do, in cooperation with like-minded organizations, then a reimagined world—one where organizations are adaptable and prepared for the next crisis; one where people and technology bring out the best in each other; one where alliances are built to solve problems; and one where organizations are trusted—won’t just be possible. It will be a reality.