Forget agility. Adaptability is the skill you'll need to succeed in 2021

Ben Bisco - Strategy & Planning Director,

If last year showed us anything, it's that there is no such thing as 2020 vision – we just can’t predict what pitfalls and obstacles we may face. No wonder there was so much talk of ‘agility’. But the businesses that did best weren't just agile, they adapted.

Sure, we had lots of business that switched their manufacturing to facemasks or hand sanitiser, or even offered their premises as vaccination centres, complete with accompanying beer.

But more interesting were those forced to adapt their operations, find new products or pivot their whole business model in the face of the pandemic.

Think supermarkets offering drive through click and collect to quickly expand their online ordering capacity. Or US TexMex restaurant, who not only switched to takeaway but also opened Chipotlanes - a drive through pick up option.

The travel and leisure sector – perhaps hit the hardest - has also seen some amazing innovations, like Airbnb Experiences helping hosts offer virtual events; from the now ubiquitous yoga class, through to cocktail making, cookery and drag queen bingo!

Some hotels offered rooms on day rates as a comfy work-from-home alternative for those without a home office, while Mandarin Oriental launched a staycation package to people needing a change of scene. And for those staying put, they brought restaurant meals, goodies from the cake shop and spa supplies direct to homes.

So what do these businesses have in common? Adaptability. And in my opinion, the key to this adaptability is underpinned by three things:

  • Always on insight: deep audience and market knowledge allowed them to spot needs
  • Creative courage: customer-focused creativity was the default, combined with the courage to try new things, and the resilience to keep going.  
  • Digital infrastructure: underpinning the whole thing, the right digital infrastructure enabled quick roll out, testing and measurement of the new ideas.

And as luck would have it, three things we help our clients with…

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