Business in the Times of Coronavirus – Discontinuity, Disruption and Digitalisation
Businesses globally are quickly adapting as Coronavirus continues to impact ongoing business operations and daily life. Supply chains have been disrupted, and productivity has shrunk. Those who do make it to the office are concerned about their well-being. This is a tightrope that companies have to walk to ensure business continuity as well as keep their employees safe.
A paradigm shift in how we work and conduct business is taking shape on the global stage.
A rising trend among companies is how encouraging employees to reduce travel and work from home. Several companies are asking their staff to take precautionary measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. In-person meetings and events are giving way to virtual conferences and meetings.
For most, digital is already part of daily life, creating new possibilities, and introducing new ideas from finding friends to ordering groceries. While the switch to digital meetings is already a growing trend globally, the current situation has accelerated the adoption of collaboration technologies that not only enable employees to connect and share in real-time on any device but also facilitate seamless group work, both in-office and outside.
What’s impressive is the ease and pace at which companies are adapting to safeguard their employees, their customers, and their business. While the underlying technical ability was always there, the size and scale of this transformation is new. More importantly, all of this is happening without significantly impacting productivity and quality.
While health and well-being is the apparent factor aiding this, the confidence that businesses have in their ability to ‘switch’ is commendable. We saw that happen during demonetization in India in 2016. A bold move by the government that led to the creation of a robust digital payments ecosystem.
In our present context, I can relate to what Miyuki Suzuki, President, APJC said in 2019 – “Use discontinuity as an opportunity to move forward, create something new, reimagine our communities, and change our organizations.” And how true it is!
If you look around, you will see events going digital overnight, MoUs being signed virtually, companies urging employees to work from home, students being asked to learn from home, and more. Industries like media & entertainment are also adapting. Recently, popular K-pop band, BTS, decided to hold a virtual news conference over YouTube to launch their latest album. At Venice Opera House, when COVID-19 forced performances to be canceled, a string quartet played Beethoven to an empty theatre, streaming their concert online to virtual applause from hundreds of fans.
Disruptions and discontinuities never stop businesses. It creates new possibilities and paves the way for innovation. Imagine how disruptive businesses will become in the days to come.
Over the next few weeks, as I interact with our employees and customers, virtually, of course, I plan to share my thoughts on how discontinuity is leading to new ways to work and conduct business. I would also love to hear your thoughts on how you, your company, customers, partners are adapting to the challenge. Do share and stay safe.
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