The coronavirus crisis has led all of us to the choice of sinking into depression or to grab the chance of becoming more agile and more responsible in reacting to the situations created by the virus and other events like Brexit. Fortunately, mankind’s innate resiliency has apparently led the majority to choose survival by becoming more responsive and fit for purpose, helping them to be better placed than others to take advantage of the likely economic recovery ahead. The spread of new internet solutions and the quick development of anti-virus vaccines will make the task easier for those who accept using these tools.

The need and desire to be more agile has taken on various aspects in our sector. It has meant above all the adoption of a flexible and responsive omni-channel strategy in all areas and in all the segments of the supply chain – not just in retailing, where more and more customers are learning to switch from a physical to an online experience, and viceversa. Thanks to repeated confinement measures, managers and their employees have learnt to switch from their physical office environment to remote working at their homes, using the internet more often and better than before to connect with each other and with the rest of the world. In many cases, it has been a learning process that can be taken further yet.

We feel strongly that only the more responsible managers will win the confidence of their collaborators and business partners in the new hybrid environment, for example by using the internet to formulate smart and effective responses to every e-mail that they receive from them, directly or through their deputies. The same goes for the interaction between suppliers and their clients, from the manufacturing stage down to the sales and customer service departments. To remain loyal to a company or to a brand, employees, business partners, retail clients and end consumers want to feel respected and cared for, rather than ignored. We can call it a more evolved form of corporate responsibility that can help attract and motivate the best collaborators and a larger number of loyal customers.

Industry leaders like Nike and Decathlon have demonstrated a lot of adaptability in terms of internal organization and in the adoption of new business models in their direct interaction with consumers. VF Corp. has been very agile in reorganizing itself by divesting assets and acquiring new ones in the past few years. It will be interesting to see how it will digest the integration of Supreme, the big American streetwear brand whose acquisition has been completed. It thinks it can double Supreme’s revenues by boosting its omni-channel operations.

Investors have paid a premium to take a stake in companies like Gymshark or Canyon Bicycles that have proven a special agility in creating new ways of engaging consumers directly over the internet, growing rapidly in promising markets like fitness and cycling.

At EDM Publications, the company that puts out SGI Europe and three other business newsletters and special reports, the editors have been trying to become more agile and responsive after a change of ownership in September 2019. They have been placing new information on its new websites almost every day, instead of waiting several days to put out the newsletters after a broad-based research process. Refraining from publishing just the companies’ press releases, we continue to digest and analyze the information as frequently and as quickly as possible, providing useful insights for decision-makers. We welcome your feedback to further improve the new digital experience, combined with the physical pdf for a more logical recap of recent developments.

Many of us have been maintaining our physical agility for many years through physical exercise, partly because of its mental benefits, and the Covid-19 pandemic has not diminished our desire to keep fit in different ways. On the contrary, it has stimulated a stronger health consciousness that will inevitably promote more participation in sports activities by the public at large in order to better protect our bodies from all kinds of diseases.

We can regard this as a form of greater responsibility toward ourselves, our keens and mankind at large. Indirectly, this attitude seems to be stimulating a stronger sense of responsibility toward nature and the planet on which we live for the benefit of ourselves and the new generations. The survivors from the current pandemic will probably respond more favorably than before to the more frequent messages of solidarity and environmental sustainability that are being issued by the sports brands. Hopefully, this new consciousness will help avoid an ecological disaster whose consequences could be deadlier than those of the coronavirus epidemic.

Eugenio Di Maria, editor of SGI Europe

Photo: Zakaria Zayane, Unsplash