Oracle: overcoming COVID-19 with strategic innovation

By Georgia Wilson
Tamer Farouk, Senior Director at Oracle (SA and EWA), emphasises that African businesses need to adapt its workforce and technology considerations...

“There is something remarkable about the African continent, the scarcity and complexity brings light to innovation and invention. Within the challenges of infrastructure resides the potential of technology and organisational agility,” comments Tamer Farouk, Senior Director at Oracle (SA and EWA).

“As the pandemic continues to influence how organisations operate and behave, African businesses need to adapt its workforce and technology considerations to fit the needs of the continent and the customer.”

‘Rebalancing the business’

In recent times businesses in Africa have been facing some of the biggest challenges, “with almost no warning, millions of businesses – indiscriminate of size or stature – suddenly went from operating as usual to facing enormous challenges under the weight of uncertainty.” As a result every move made by an organisation is critical. With these challenges, Farouk explains that there are four areas where a CFO-led rethink and innovation will be crucial in the upcoming months.

1. Managing cash flow

“The most immediate challenge faced has been managing cash flow. Many businesses, whilst inherently profitable, found themselves struggling to make ends meet with insufficient working capital readily to stay solvent. This lack of economic resilience does require short-term cuts, but it also relies on intelligent decisions that will keep the business healthy in the long-term,” comments Farouk.

2. Investing in the supply chain

Another focus highlighted by Farouk is the supply chain. For many years, just-in-time supply chains have been the best practice, however in recent time Farouk explains that this method has struggled in the face of global crisis. “To get back on track and plan ahead, spending big to ensure supply chains are robust and resilient, not lean, will be critical.”

3. Working closely with HR

“Balancing cost-cutting while ensuring the business can still function effectively is vital, especially when your biggest asset – talent – is also your biggest expense,” further explains Farouk. To ensure that businesses maintain continuity and survival “the CFO should work closer than ever with HR.”

4. Focusing on customers

Finally Farouk details that “a people-driven approach is vitally important, and not just when it comes to staff and employees, but also customers.” While it remains important to maintain good customer experience, “CFOs and finance teams getting closer than ever to their customers – and indeed their suppliers – is what will set you apart. Showing you can balance their needs with those of the business’.”

‘Building resilience’

“In building resiliency, organisations need to focus on building a resilient community amongst employees, customers, partners and suppliers,” states Farouk, who emphasises that “focusing on bringing an overarching view of the health of the organisation is key; data is crucial to shape every discussion, aiding in quick decisions and allowing for agility and innovation. Building resilience is not finance’s job alone, this could be collaborating with the CIO and R&D teams, to ensure any future innovations align with customer strategies as well as the business’ purpose.”

In the current climate, cloud based applications such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Human Capital Management (HCM) are extremely valuable.

The benefits

  • Helping to build business resilience and innovation in complicated markets
  • Providing insights that offer improved control over supply chain management, inventory and purchasing
  • Integratable systems and data, connecting systems and information for transparent and accessible and relevant
  • The ability to use business intelligence (BI) to analyse data, to create KPIs based on strategic targets, and measure performance

With this strategic approach, companies are able to manage the complex balancing act more deftly between legacy and future proof without whittling away at the bottom line. It has also stimulated greater interest in how digital applications can benefit the organisation,” conclude Farouk.

For more information on business topics in Europe, Middle East and Africa please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.

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