The Covid-19 pandemic has caused huge health and economic destruction forcing business leaders to look at World War II and the big ideas that emerged in the 1940s. At that time it was mass production and exploring foreign markets that helped businesses grow. Public-private partnerships became critical at that time and the firms that recognized that consumer needs in the post-war era would be different and catered to them, did become successful. Taking lessons from those times, businesses today are focusing on three vital aspects: a) Stay connected with the biggest customers b) Don’t crawl back into the old ways of doing things c) Allow the company’s founding principles to guide our actions in these times.
Most businesses agree with the fundamental idea that firms now have to be more nimble and adaptable than they were before. The focus now cannot just be on scale, speed is equally important. And some of the new habits that have developed due to the pandemic, should be held on to in the future because they do seem to be smarter. If we can continue to use video-conferencing to save travel time and increase efficiency, we must.
Not everything that is emerging in businesses now, is novel. The health crisis has accelerated some of the trends that have been around for a long time whether it is increased digitalization, a bigger focus on climate change or decreased globalization. This period might mark the end of the ‘professional management system’ which started in the 1920s and manages scale well but fails to handle the modern complexity of business and doesn’t put customers front and centre. The successful post-crisis business will require leaner and stronger headquarters with a heightened ability to manage risk. Also, local teams will need a lot more leeway to operate and make decisions in their markets. The way the crisis has unfolded in different countries, strategic decisions have had to be left to local leaders because they can understand what’s happening in their territory the best.
In terms of new opportunities, while some like cleaning services, or screening services or face masks and sanitizers maybe more short term and opportunistic, others like delivery services, remote applications and virtual fitness are here for the long-term. Cyber security, e-commerce and at-home entertainment will see huge growth.
Businesses that will be an integral part of new operational systems and infrastructure
If you’re a business that is involved in setting up remote IT infrastructure for companies so that WFH can be seamless or a firm that is involved in cyber security, as more firms move their data and systems to the cloud, this is going to be a great growth phase. Despite the opening up of the lockdown in most parts of the country, many companies want to continue WFH, afraid of people getting infected at the workplace.
Applications that can aid in managing employees remotely, keep a track of productivity and layout metrics wil; be adopted by my more and more firms.
Catering to new customer needs
While e-commerce and digital payments are on the rise as people want to reduce store visits and physical contact, consumers will now want delivery of items that they had never wanted before. Motorcycles, durables, luxury items – all of these will be increasingly purchased online with video assistance from sales teams to guide our purchases. As per a Capgemini report 46% of customers will shop in physical stores, which is a significant drop from the 56% who would shop in retail stores before the pandemic. There will be a move to turn a lot of physical stores into fulfillment centres instead of opening them to customers.
In India, there is also a huge opportunity for tele-medicine and e-pharma. People are becoming more used to the idea of online consultations with doctors and getting e-prescriptions, especially for illnesses which are not life threatening. Skin consultations and counselling sessions already do happen online and would have seen a spike during the lockdown.
Health & Insurance
Post Covid-19, consumers are expected to become more health and fitness oriented. Healthy foods and online fitness apps will get a phillip. Consumers are less likely to order take-out. Both businesses and individuals will opt to secure themselves with insurance. Both life and general insurers are expecting a rise in business in the coming months and hiring close to 5000 people to cater to this demand. Estimates say that only 35% of the population has access to medical insurance, indicating that there is sufficient room for growth in this segment and a heightened need that the pandemic has highlighted.
Online Games & E-sports
In China, the demand for online games and webcast went up by 500%. Some European countries have already tried a model with football where large screens are installed in stadiums and fan reactions are played on zoom calls while players play. A combination of webcasts and e-sports, where celebrity sports persons or known names play online games which will become popular.
Overall online entertainment, grocery delivery via apps, cloud services, online education, remote healthcare, digital payments and anything that facilitates a contactless economy is well placed to do well in the post Covid-19 era.