Kevin Peters, NetNumber President and CEO
The Covid-19 pandemic has been widely described as a black swan event—an unexpected occurrence that has a substantial impact on society and business. During such an event, businesses typically retrench, cut investment, freeze hiring and look to ride out the storm. As the whole world hit pause in early 2020, many companies assured their survival by furloughing workers, pausing investment in research and development and effectively mothballing their businesses, minimizing operating costs while waiting for the business climate to stabilize.
However, for some businesses this could be the wrong strategy. Counter-intuitively investing, restructuring and building for the future can be far more productive, delivering accelerated development and a transformed and rejuvenated business.
With the telecom industry undergoing a transformation to 5G and cloudification, we had recognized the need to transform into a cloud-based business that is better equipped to serve our telecoms operator customers’ future needs. And we identified the pandemic as an opportunity to accelerate that transformation. We made a conscious decision to press the accelerator rather than the brake, to neither hunker down to wait for the future nor to maintain the status quo. Although there was risk, there was an opportunity to take advantage of the downtime while everyone was sequestered in their homes to do forward-looking work. It was logical for us to double down on our transformation journey.
In addition to being in an industry that is changing yet has a clearly set-out transformation journey, we were also well-positioned at the start of the pandemic because we had already started our transformation, bringing in consultancy Blue Rocket to help with both our strategy and implementing the transformation. Blue Rocket had been working with us to identify future strategic options and this head start on the unexpectedly available time the pandemic resulted in proved to be an enormous benefit.
I believe the company’s overall transformation has been accelerated thanks to turning a black swan event into an opportunity. The alternative would have been to come out of the pandemic still retooling and still trying to formulate the company’s future state. Instead, we’ve tried to do things to the benefit of customers by getting people to engage and be productive. It has been a win-win situation and I’m very proud of how NetNumber as a team has responded.
So what did we learn?
During difficult times look for challenging and exciting work to propel you forward because it occupies you, advances you and is better for your customers. Be bold during tumultuous times. I’d like to say I knew this ahead of time but I didn’t, it is something I have learned during this latest black swan event and it has been particularly good to collaborate with Blue Rocket because they engaged full throttle alongside our team. We were both focused on what we’re doing and the outcomes have been highly positive.
I have written a white paper describing how NetNumber retooled, the outcomes we achieved, and lessons we learned. Please download a copy here at Don’t fear the black swan, take it as an opportunity to soar.