The industrial landscape will look very different as the pandemic dwindles down.
Sectors such as oil and gas, logistics and transport, hospitality, food and beverage, aviation and hospitality will take longer to recover, compared to the likes of fintech, video conferencing, pharmaceuticals, e-commerce and health management.
However it is in the time of criss that businesses evolve. In the more affected sectors, there will be lots of restructuring and transformation, opportunities to build new enterprises through mergers and acquisitions.
What will it take a business to emerge a winner from Covid-19?
1. Act fast
Businesses need to act quickly to adapt. We need them to create new organisational structures so that they can react quickly to the demand for different products and services. Mahindra group, a multi-billion industrial manufacturing and services company is producing ventilators, while their project teams are on standby to assist the government in creating temporary care facilities, and the Mahindra Foundation is creating a fund to assist the hardest hit across the value chain.
The world’s leading 3D printing manufacturers - including HP, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Royal DSM and others - have also come together through the Forum’s 3D Printing COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative to address equipment shortages and rising medical demands due to the ongoing pandemic.
What we've learnt from these is that these communities have come together to create flexible ecosystems with whom they can work and trade together.
2. New functions within management
Businesses sometimes assume that managers will have done the necessary risk management and mitigation, and developed continuity and recovery plans to implement during times like these. However all too often that becomes a checking exercise or is not carried appropriately. Small businesses will have less of these resources to fall back on. Many of these plans won't be ready to be implemented or cope with such an event.
Rather than having to get ready for such an event which may come only come once in a lifetime. The approach will thus rather be to event-proof the business model, identifying the problems and value that will be created from implementing business processes that mitigates them. For e.g, can food and beverage companies do better if they have a solid SEO and digital marketing strategy implemented already, which will allow them a higher slice of the delivery market? Can companies like mine, a corporate services company, digitalise more of our processes involving hard paper so that we don't have to scramble for physical folders when we need information during the lockdown?
Management can take a step back to analyse the A-Zs of their businesses and answer the What ifs will be able to implement such solutions that event-proof their businesses.
3. Apply a people-first mindset
The very first priority of an organization during a pandemic should be the safety and well-being of its workforce. Employees are unable to focus on work responsibilities when their well-being and that of their family are in peril. Hence, the critical question businesses must address at the onset of a pandemic event is whether their employees are safe, followed by whether they are available to perform critical functions. It is important for companies to be able to monitor the situation, provide a safe workplace and offer their employees the support that they need.
Singapore, and countries like Australia and United Kingdom does this well by putting people at the front of their recovery efforts. They have provided financial support to both employers and employees and are not shy to give and enforce laws around movement. Examples of employee support can also consist of external resources such as extended child/elder care, working odd hours at home and recognition to employees for taking on additional tasks outside their work scope.