The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic, social and political impacts have immense global disruptions to business, work and life. Learning from the critical experiences affecting various important industries in 2020, firms and their teams are now better equipped to navigate through the current climate and are better prepared for future global business disruptions caused by more lockdowns or additional restrictions issued by Government and health authorities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spread to every country in the world. Its spread had left national economies and businesses counting the costs, as governments struggle with new lockdown measures to tackle the spread of the virus. Despite the development of new vaccines and implementation of policies by many Governments to have their citizens receive vaccination, many are still left wondering what recovery could look like post-pandemic. Although the Asian and US stock markets caught a breather since the announcement of the first vaccine in November 2020, the evolvement of new strains of the coronavirus like the Delta strain in the Asian regions has cast dark clouds over the recovery of the Asian stock markets. This coupled with the Chinese Government’s recent tightening of regulations for global stock offerings, it has been challenging for Chinese companies who are trying to raise funds onshore and in the overseas markets, heightening concerns about China’s economic recovery.
Besides the volatility in the share markets, companies like those in the food and beverage industry which were badly affected by the pandemic had to adapt swiftly to COVID-19 restrictions by increasing investments into mobile apps and the use of third-party delivery companies such as GrabFood and Foodpanda. It is now becoming a permanent trend to order via mobile apps and have food delivered to offices or homes as the Government continue to place restrictions on in-house dining.
With work-from-home (WFH) measures in place, many companies have had to adjust staff capacity in the office and WFH had been a norm since 2020. As a result of these measures, businesses have been making investments into both hardware and software for their business and staff. They would first have to ensure that staff have the necessary hardware to transition to WFH, and have to continuously invest into cloud computing and software to address these remote working arrangements. Most companies are using video meeting applications such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams to conduct meetings and webinars for employees.
With lockdowns forcing consumers to stay at home, retail businesses are adversely affected. Many retail businesses have shut down their retail outlets and are focusing on their online businesses to stay afloat. E-commerce companies like Zalora, Lazada, Qoo10 and Shopee have seen a sharp rise in revenue as consumers head online to shop whilst estate rental prices have seen an acute drop. Not only did Covid-19 hit the retail business badly, those in the F&B, hospitality and travel businesses have seen steep decline in revenue and many had to take the drastic measures to downsize their workforce so as to keep their businesses afloat.
The pandemic crisis has also seen a shift from traditional marketing to digital marketing. As more businesses are opening up e-commerce stores, digital marketing has become the predominant marketing strategy for many businesses who are seeing increasing online footprint. Businesses are now concern about website ranking, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing. Social media channels like Youtube, Facebook, Tiktok, LinkedIn and Twitter are leading social media avenues where businesses are scrambling to place their advertisements since most consumers are going online to search for products and to shop.
Risk Management has also become critical for businesses. Companies that have the right risk management strategies in place were able to focus on business continuity, while those that did not had to consider more drastic measures to survive. Risk management is an activity best undertaken offensively, before disasters strike and this should not be taken reactively because it will then be too late.
The COVID-19 pandemic created a monumental shock to the entire manufacturing and supply chain sectors and during this difficult process, manufacturers and supply chain managers have realized that digitizing supply-chain management improves the speed, accuracy, and flexibility of supply-risk management. By building and reinforcing a single source of information, a digitized supply chain strengthens capabilities in anticipating risk, achieving greater visibility and coordination across the supply chain, and managing issues that arise from growing product complexity. This will inevitably lessen the demand and supply shock for critical parts so as not to further startle the manufacturing processes.
With businesses investing so much into intelligent automation, robotic process automation (RPA), data analytics and blockchain, upskilling is now a call for action to employees. Many will need to upskill in order to learn and operate these new technologies. We are seeing increasing number of universities and learning academies providing certification courses on artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cybersercurity, design thinking, fintech, innovation, and digital marketing strategies.
COVID-19 has no doubt impacted many industries, some perhaps benefitting more than others, but largely detrimental. Changes are proliferating in varying sectors of the economy, making businesses rethink how they operate and survive to make them viable again. Workers are adjusting their way of thought, how they must work and live post-pandemic in order to adapt to these new changes and challenges which they are now facing.
We are definitely in a new era.
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