With the coronavirus epidemic severely impacting over two hundred countries, the global economy has taken an enormous hit, affecting businesses worldwide. Sectors like aviation, hospitality, and tourism have been walloped, while others like EdTech, video conferencing, and digital sales have boomed.
Businesses have now realized the importance of implementing technology and cultivating a digital presence. According to an India Today news report, Ritesh Agarwal, the founder and CEO of OYO Rooms, when asked about the future of the hospitality sector and how he hopes to run his firm in a post-pandemic era, he said he sees technology playing a significant role in the days to come.
“Hospitality has avoided using technology. In this new world, zero-touch will rule the roost. Since people don’t travel, if people take vacations, they will seek out more places near cities or pilgrimages. When those happen, ensuring tech increases social distancing, and high-level hygiene and sanitation needs to be maintained. The third is specific examples, like using tech to reduce information asymmetry. Companies will have to use tech to change their operations.” Said Ritesh.
Remote Working and Authentic Communication
India recently entered the ‘Unlock 1.0’ stage on June 8 after facing three months of a nation-wide lockdown that began in March. This period signifies a decision by the Government to relax restrictions in certain areas (other than the containment zones) to try and revive a sinking economy. This step also means organizations must come up with a new way of managing their employees and an effective long-term solution when it comes to carrying out the everyday task of completing projects and running a business.
Many offices are now trying to decide between remote working and asking employees to report to work in person. Several tech companies, including giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, have announced that their employees will be indefinitely working from home. Certain organizations have started working in shifts or asking only individual departments to report.
According to a news report by Inc42, Rajat Garg, the CEO of MyUpchar, a health and wellness website, said that while customer support and operations teams are returning to work, over 30 per cent of their workforce is working from home.
In a recent discussion with the Economic Times, Deepali Nair, CMO, IBM South Asia, and India spoke about how after the lockdown, the company’s stack of remote working solutions helped it sustain work and recover operations. She also emphasized the need to make clients more aware of the various solutions available in these times.
“Clients are looking at new customer experiences and new business models as they want to protect their businesses from future shocks. Our idea is to co-create and innovate with them.” Said Nair.
She continued to talk about the importance of digital marketing and the integration of external communication with organic social media. “People are craving authentic voices & authentic messaging, and this is the time for CEOs who have developed authentic voices to lend that credibility to their respective brands.”
While most economists believe that the worst impact of the epidemic is yet to be seen and that India is set to face the worst recession it has seen in the last 40 years, experts like Kris Gopalakrishnan, co-founder and former CEO of Infosys believe that there may be a massive influx of investment in one particular sector: Startups.
“Yes, we have taken a temporary break, but nothing has changed, and I believe that we will have a large number of unicorns, we will have significant investments coming into India to take advantage of the opportunity that India provides,” Gopalakrishnan told Sudhir Sethi, Chairman, Chiratae Ventures, during a recent discussion on the economic ecosystem of the country, according to a news report on Your Story India.
He does agree, however, that India will face a short-term impact, but while looking at it from a long-term perspective, the Indian workforce, according to Gopalakrishnan, remains talented in the way the healthcare industry has managed the crisis, despite having poor infrastructure, is proof of the fact. He also stated that the onset of exponential technologies during the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change the way industries work and that “India is probably the best place to leverage these technologies for maximum benefits.”
Overcoming Uncertainty and Restarting Operations
In an attempt to help businesses overcome the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, leading global professional services company Accenture, put forth five priorities they could focus on while reopening their businesses.
- Putting People First: The firm advises businesses to address the anxieties of their employees through compassionate communication and help out as much as they can with their health expenses.
- Create a Safe Working Environment: This includes sustaining digital workers, rethinking workplace design in terms of physical space, implementing safety protocol, and rewriting employee contracts based on mutual trust to create an overall safe environment for everyone.
- Creating a Phased Return Plan: According to the company, this is the right time to re-engineer operations and adapt to the changing market conditions by implementing a technology-based, agile working model including remote working, a virtual command center, and a human-machine workforce.
- Implement a Resilient Cost Management Plan: The next step includes looking into implementing an elastic cost structure including long term cost reduction instead of short-term, focusing on likely mergers and acquisitions as distressed assets are obtainable and trying to manage and assess government support programs.
- Be Prepared to Adapt and Get Future-Ready: The firm urges companies to adapt and invest in newer technologies like Artificial intelligence (AI) to respond to customers and look for possible supply chain weaknesses and predict problems they might encounter in the future and prepare themselves for all possibilities.