Apr 19, 2021

McKinsey: Speed and resilience key to revival

Kate Birch
5 min
Speed and resilience are key for organisations, according to McKinsey, when it comes to emerging strongest from the COVID-19 pandemic
McKinsey has outlined five priorities for the next five months based on speed and resilience as businesses reimagine themselves for the next normal.
Speed has been a characteristic of the COVID-19 pandemic – from the spread of the virus to reaction of businesses with reorganisation of supply chains and adoption of work from home. Vaccines were also created with unprecedented speed and organisations that acted quickly to deal with disruption fared better than those that did not.
McKinsey says speed is also likely to be a central feature of what happens next, and that speed will need to arrive by design rather than necessity.
To build long-term resilience, businesses need to make sure that the speed unlocked by the pandemic is sustainable.
Here are the five questions McKinsey says business leaders need to address:


1. What kind of demand shift should we expect, and how do we get ready for it?
Both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) companies expect shifts in future demand that will affect their commercial model.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many households prioritised buying goods (especially basic products such as food) over services (such as restaurants and hair salons, many of which were closed anyway). As a result, pent-up demand could lead to a spike in spending on services. What is still unclear is which services will return and in what form.


2. How do we incorporate new ways of working to enhance productivity and health?
Organisations have worked hard to ensure safe working environments. However, some companies have found that workers are partaking in high-risk activities as a direct result of living through the pandemic. This will need careful handling and messaging.
Data from a wide range of organisations says productivity is higher than before the pandemic, but not uniformly so. According to a McKinsey survey, productivity is up for about half of all workers, with the other half reporting no change or lower productivity. The same survey suggested that, while the inability to disconnect is a real concern, increased productivity is linked to a willingness to change how people work – companies that managed to build inclusiveness into the remote-work arrangements were significantly more likely to see increased productivity.
In some cases, companies are strengthening their speed muscles, while also building personal connections and reducing fatigue. Work can and should look different to create competitive advantage in performance and health.


3. How do we get the most value out of office real estate?
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many workers abruptly began to work from home. At first, the thinking was that productivity and job satisfaction would plummet. In fact, while some people struggled with the transition, new flexibility was embraced by others.
McKinsey believes the future working arrangement for knowledge-based companies will be a hybrid solution, with companies deciding when to expect a physical presence, and how often.
Leaders will need to make decisions about office real estate, namely: What kind of office footprint will the organisation have (how much space is needed) and what will the working experience be like inside and outside? For instance, if the vast majority of a company’s interactions are in smaller groups or teams, it can consider shifting offices to a greater number of small locations, rather than having a few large hubs.


4. How can we reimagine capital allocation to promote resilience?
Capital allocation used to be about making large bets early, based on knowledge of trends that could take years to play out. During 2020, it became clear that this view needs to sit alongside a new way of thinking. Companies need to develop a capital-allocation process that allows them to create value by navigating fast-moving disruptions that can manifest themselves over days or weeks rather than years.
Navigating business disruption is easier said than done. One critical capability is “trigger-based capital allocation.” This involves defining a set of big moves, such as M&A, portfolio reallocation, or divestitures, that could significantly alter the shape of the business. Then, the company defines specific conditions, or triggers, under which it would take the proposed action. Finally, the company needs to have a clear mechanism for identifying whether these conditions have occurred, and it has to be able to move quickly when they do.


5. What broader role should organisations play in their communities?
COVID-19 has made many companies take stock and consider their social responsibilities. In the United States, for example, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women, minorities, people of colour, lower-income workers and small businesses.
Businesses have a role to play in rebuilding robust economies and in improving their communities. As a part of their corporate social-responsibility efforts, companies should consider which areas to prioritise, based on the strengths of their organisation and on what their people value most.
Back in June 2020, McKinsey said “an organisation designed for speed will see powerful outcomes, including greater customer responsiveness, enhanced capabilities, and better performance in terms of cost efficiency, revenues, and return on capital. The speedy company might also find it has a higher sense of purpose and improved organisational health. These outcomes are possible, but not inevitable.”
Today, McKinsey stands by that statement. Speed matters, but not at the cost of making mistakes or burning out. By asking the right questions, business leaders can improve the odds of negotiating the next normal successfully, and in so doing, help themselves, their employees, and their communities.

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Jun 21, 2021

How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans

3 min
Customer obsession and working backwards from the customer is a mantra of Amazon Web Services (AWS), epitomizing its partnership with NASCAR

AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”

AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”

Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”

Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”

Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using  ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”

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