New normal: A perspective on business and what lies ahead

Published: January 27, 2021

With the global pandemic impacting our lives in ways we never imagined possible, the last year has redefined not just the future of work but also ways of working.  Medical experts suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic will last a few years, like the Spanish flu of the early 1900s, with multiple waves hitting the masses every 4-6 months.

However, with the advancement of medicine and technology, and the rollout of the vaccine in different parts of the globe, the world is hopeful of a quicker recovery and restoration of life back to normal. In my interactions with CxOs, I see a lot of planning and focus around new program rollouts to help improve customer experience, achieve cost savings, and enhance efficiencies through innovative products and solutions.

Through this article, we share views on how the market may react based on the current scenario of lockdowns and vaccine rollouts.

An extended wave of lockdowns

Companies have quickly learned from their experiences in the initial lockdown of March 2020 and are better prepared to change gears and readjust priorities. The initial changes and challenges of remote working have been ironed out, and organizations are more resilient and equipped with robust business continuity and operations plans.

With the wide adoption of digitalization across industries and enterprises, we will see fewer physical stores and branches. The pace of digital adoption is estimated to advance by 3-5 years. Service convergence that was witnessed predominantly in sectors like telecom, media, technology, and banking may now find its way into more industries. For example, restaurants turning into retail outlets, the emergence of branchless companies, OTT becoming mainstream, etc.

Nearly every player that has shown agility in introducing new solutions, products, and business models to accommodate an anticipated change in customer behaviour will be gaining market share. Most of the leading companies and global stock markets are rebounding and are ready to grab the opportunities that lie ahead. Service sectors like technology companies must partner with organizations to enable transformation and accelerate product innovations in a more agile way.   

Worldwide vaccine approval and access

Companies will adopt a phased approach in addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by the vaccine. The recovery may get delayed due to new strains and additional waves of the virus attack. Logistics issues can extend the rollout time frame. According to a recent Reuters article, longer-term global recovery depends on vaccine distribution.

These two scenarios have led to the acceleration in digital and cloud transformation initiatives. Companies are focusing on the growth agenda. More and more companies are expected to move sales online. Prices of products are getting stabilized across the globe to promote local spending. Flexible working options are provided to the employees. Remote working is encouraged. Organizations are looking to sustain the positive skills and behaviours that emerged during the pandemic, including agility, faster decision making, flattened hierarchies, and transparent communication.

Cautious optimism will be the undertone of many a business investment, with bets being placed on sustainable and green initiatives. There will be more mergers, and acquisitions, and consolidation of businesses. Business continuity plans will be at the epicentre of all strategy discussions, with companies weighing out their decisions and plans cautiously. There will be a greater need for effective cybersecurity protocols and regulations to monitor digital activity, especially data privacy. With the resumption of projects placed on hold due to the pandemic, there will be more spending and growth across key industries like banking and finance, telecommunications, media, healthcare, and life sciences.

While we lay out these assumptions and the possible impact on business and life in both circumstances, the pandemic has once again highlighted that success is determined by one’s ability to adapt, readjust and pace ahead of the opportunities and challenges presented by an ever-changing business landscape. It has highlighted the role of technology advancement in helping businesses, customers, and the world access, emerge and lead during tough situations. The technology companies that have been quick to partner with their customers and employees will be the leaders of the future.

Resilience isn’t measured by how big your coffers are but by how agile your business is.

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