Six months to go – get in shape to win Olympic gold

TODAY we hit six months to go until the start of the Olympic Games. Amid the daily diet of doom and gloom about the prospects for the UK economy, the Games offer a potential bright horizon in an otherwise challenging year.

It certainly appears that many companies feel this way. Deloitte’s latest Games Readiness research found that 81 per cent of companies are expecting an increase in demand for their goods or services as a result of London 2012. This is far higher than the 38 per cent of businesses who felt this way when we asked last May. Over half of businesses plan new or improved marketing campaigns to benefit from the Games period, while around a third plan to increase levels of stock.

Realising these opportunities means being ready for business as unusual during the six weeks of the Games: prepared for challenges across staff availability, supply chains, security and technology.

Some of these issues are beginning to be addressed. Many more companies are now reviewing holiday and home working policies, giving them confidence that they will be ready to serve all those extra customers this summer.

Indeed, the last 12-18 months has seen a turnaround in how British businesses are thinking about the level of preparation required for London 2012. When we first surveyed UK companies, two-thirds expected no impact on their business as a result of the Games. Today, just 2 per cent feel this way.

However, some concerns remain. Our biggest worry is that just one in five companies intends to review its business continuity plans before the Games, despite the fact that companies tell us they are now more concerned about the risk of a security incident. Most business continuity plans are designed to deal with one-off incidents played out over a short period of time. With the Olympic Games, there is the potential for several continuity challenges to occur at the same time and for a prolonged period. Access or travel to alternative locations used for business continuity may also be impacted by the Games.

Sound planning and preparation has already paid off for many businesses that have won contracts through London 2012 and who will now be looking to see if they can repeat their success in Rio, Qatar and Russia. Having a successful Games Time track record is important for their future marketing. It’s certain that the best prepared and most agile businesses will grab the biggest share of the upside.

Businesses in previous host cities have typically underestimated the impact of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It appears that businesses in London and around the UK are determined not to make the same mistakes. A well prepared UK PLC is a vital part of the success of this summer and while there remains work to do, it is encouraging to see so many companies taking the Games seriously. With talk already turning to the legacy from the Olympics, firms should consider the legacy that great delivery will bring every business that prepares well for the opportunities and challenges in this summer of celebration.

Heather Hancock is lead London 2012 partner at Deloitte, the official professional services provider to London 2012.