Being Purpose Driven: The New Imperative to Reinventing Businesses Post Covid-19

August 17 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly disrupted the marketplace and accelerated the move towards digitization, which is now embraced even by traditional “brick and mortar” industries.

Digital transformation is certainly the first imperative for businesses and brands to reimagine themselves for the new marketplace in this Covid-19 era. In fact, businesses, big or small (including mom and pop shops, and even street hawkers), are now transforming to embrace digital in one form or another, at a speed we have never seen before.

The second imperative would be health and safety. The health and safety agenda is now a key aspect of organisations, be it from a workplace or store-front perspective. The paradigm shift towards health and safety is now enterprise-wide and involves a much wider value chain than before. An example of this would be the growth of contact tracing apps, as well as the sale of contactless temperature gauges, medical grade rubber gloves, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, etc.

The Health & Safety imperative even calls for interior designers and even property developers to rethink and reimagine the workplace and store front – from contactless office automation to social-distanced office spaces and stores. Considering the health and safety aspect of workers and customers, the evolving trend of work from home, virtual meetings, and even corporate travel have certainly disrupted the way we think about communication and collaboration.

The third imperative, which may not be on the top of mind for most of us right now, is the purpose-driven imperative. This will be the game-changer to future-proof your organisation or brand, particularly as the impact of Covid-19 is expected to keep market conditions volatile in the short to mid-term. Within such an environment, people are looking for steady leadership and certainty. In this regard, most are still unaware or have yet to realise that profit with a purpose is set to sweep the marketplace at an accelerated pace post-Covid-19.

The disruption by Covid-19, the greatest global war since the Second World War, has awoken the marketplace. The global war against an invincible and invisible enemy has put governments and each and every one of us under tremendous pressure, hitting right at the hearts and minds of every person as we have no idea when and where it will strike.

Time to Purposefully Reform, Reinvent, Reimagine

Moving forward, consumers and stakeholders will certainly expect the marketplace to change or “reform”. There is no going back to “business as usual” prior to the pandemic. Certainly, there are already signs of increased demand for companies and brands to operate with a “soul”. A recent Investor’s Watch survey interviewing 3,750 wealthy investors across 15 countries by UBS revealed that three quarters of investors anticipate permanent lifestyle shifts, with two thirds saying the pandemic has altered how they think about their finances.

Interestingly, the survey showed, while millennial investors are most concerned about having to work longer to make up for losses, having enough money saved and losing their job in the current environment, they want to see their money make societal impact. The data also indicated that 69% are interested in sustainable investing and 60% in philanthropy due to Covid-19.

On top of that, governments are now reviving their respective economies through various stimulus packages by investing in long-term development plans for the country, including sustainable infrastructure and human capital upskilling post-Covid-19. Again, this reflects the commitment from many of us around the world to change for the better.

The disruption brought on by the Covid-19 crisis presents a new opportunity for brands and organisations to reinvent and capture the imagination of the new marketplace. Moving forward, being purpose-driven is set to be a core narrative for brands and organisations that are committed to “reform”, “reimagine” and “reinvent” themselves for the new market.

As such, organisations need to dive deeper into their purpose as an organisation or brand. The power of “why” will help organisations and brands recover from this crisis and reinvent for the future. The purpose-driven imperative, which must be sustainable in the long term, must fit the dreams of our people, while generating meaningful returns for our shareholders and – at the same time – must have a genuine and authentic commitment to our planet.

The Covid-19 crisis is indeed our greatest opportunity (and for some of us, perhaps the last chance) to reboot the way we do businesses. This may perhaps be a rude awakening but there cannot be a clearer signal to all of us to “reform” and “reimagine” our businesses. If we do not change right now, we will certainly be swept away by this disruption.

No doubts, if we put purpose right at the heart of what we do right now, supported by consistent and authentic actions, we are set to build a reputation that will help us win in the new post-Covid-19 market.

Andy See
Founder, Principal Partner & Managing Director, Perspective Strategies
After spending more than 10 years working with leading multinational and Malaysian consultancies including The Boston Consulting Group and Edelman, Andy decided to reinvent his career by setting up his own firm. This led to the birth of Perspective Strategies in 2006. The boutique agency grew quickly with the promise of delivering strategic counsel and quality services to clients and has over the years won numerous industry awards on the global and national levels. Aside from steering the firm’s strategic direction and managing key client relationships, Andy regularly conducts spokesperson training and speaks at industry events on strategic communications, issues management and stakeholder engagement. Currently, he is the President of the Public Relations and Communications Association of Malaysia (PRCA Malaysia), spearheading efforts to champion the interest of PR professionals including industry best practices, quality and standards as well as talent development.  Since 2017, Perspective Strategies has been part of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), one of the world's leading independent PR agency networks. Andy is on the Executive Committee, serving as Secretary and Regional Vice-President for Asia Pacific (APAC). As Regional Vice-President, Andy leads PRGN's initiatives in growing the network's presence in APAC by pushing to enhance communication, improve coordination and drive momentum at the regional level. Andy also actively contributes articles and thought leadership pieces on PR, leadership and strategic communications in various publications and online platforms.

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