Napoleon, Pandemics and Competition

In 1809, a British military expedition of 40,000 soldiers was sent to Walcheren in the Netherlands to defeat Napoleon’s troops. After a few light skirmishes, the French army evacuated and left the British occupiers to themselves. After a few weeks the British began to get sick with “Walcheren Fever.” Soon over 4,000 British soldiers were dead and 12,000 were too sick to continue. The competition for Walcheren was less about the French army and more about the fever.

On June 24, 1812 Napoleon’s French army of 685,000 soldiers invaded Russia. Over the next six months the French army won a long series of bloody battles. Although winning nearly all the battles the French army still found itself in deep trouble. The cold and wet of autumn and winter destroyed them. They were forced to retreat back to France with only 27,000 out of the original 685,000 soldiers left. Historians say that Napoleon didn’t lose to the Russian generals, rather to the weather.

Napoleon mistakenly thought Russian army was the true competition. Today, during the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses must also understand the true nature and source of their competition. Recognizing that the pandemic, pandemic related economic impact, and the pandemic inspired behavioral changes of consumers are the sources of our competition today is critical for us to respond appropriately.

If the pandemic and its impact on customers is the true competition of 2020, how might your company’s business plan need adjusting?

Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict serves as a futurist in the Future of Business group at Tata Consultancy Services. He is an optimistic futurist, and passionate advocate for using technology for social good. He writes and speaks globally on emerging and disruptive technologies, business strategies and marketing trends. He loves building teams, innovating, designing new strategies and winning. He is curious and loves communicating complex concepts and evangelizing best practices. He hosts a variety of online tv channels where he has interviewed hundreds of executives and thought leaders on industry trends and emerging technologies. He loves writing, is a social media expert, SAP Mentor alum, current SAP Influencer program member and global speaker on the deeper strategies of business and technology transformation.

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