Business is no more as usual

July 05, 2020

LAHORE: While government functionaries are fighting to reduce the impact of pandemic on population and economy, the businesses are also striving to find out the right path to survive the crisis and...

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LAHORE: While government functionaries are fighting to reduce the impact of pandemic on population and economy, the businesses are also striving to find out the right path to survive the crisis and thrive post-pandemic.

Every business sector is trying to make out a plan to cope with expected lower earnings, lower savings and reduced spending by the consumers. They also know the fact that it would be an uphill task to revive if they lose consumers in pandemic to their better organised competitors. A cursory look at the sentiments of even higher executives reveals that many of them fear for their own jobs. Pakistani consumers were already bad savers but after the pandemic even those that created saving habits find those savings dwindling as they draw from them to make up for reduced earnings.

All businesses have to act very fast and take decisions out of the book to survive. The small neighborhood retailers for instance were quick to act when they approached their customers at home instead of waiting for them to come to their outlets and face the risk of infection in rush hours. Most of them are not educated enough to benefit from the technology.

However, having at least an analog mobile device they encouraged their customers to send their orders through SMS. The orders are then delivered in the evening against cash.

Those that opted for credit to increase sales are relenting as the customer shifted to other suppliers.

For better organised retail outlets including the fashion clothing and grocery outlets e-commerce has emerged as their main avenue for sales.

The brands display their clothing on their web page while grocers display items with price list. Many however are not geared to deliver the large number of orders in time and are earning bad name. Compared with that many ladies have opened online shops on their web page. They show the clothing and fabric live to the consumers that contact them and dispatch the orders promptly through courier services.

So, in the pandemic the speed with which you act and change your business operations has assumed greater importance. The live online shops it seems are going to stay even after pandemic subsides. The businesses have to adopt through quick-fixes.

Decision-making should not be without logic and as far as bigger companies are concerned at this crisis time, no broad-based consultation is needed.

A few people (5-9) should take the decision on new business plans and implement it in shortest possible time.

The companies should assign their best brains to take sane decisions. If they cannot devise viable options, no other would. Technology has to be adopted with the greatest speed.

The days of planning the change to be implemented in years have gone. Better technology would not threaten the business.

Business teams would have to embrace new technology and data and reinvent the core processes with the help of this data. While, the human resource would have to learn quickly to adopt to new technology-based collaboration tools. The emphasis should be on speeding up all processes with the help of technology to emerge as a successful post pandemic organisation.

The speed would enhance the capabilities of the organisation. It would perform better in terms of cost efficiency, revenues and return on capital. The customers would be more responsive to the efficiency of delivery. The organisational health of the company would also increase. Presently no one is sure which way, and at which level the economy would settle.

Perceptions are changing very rapidly. Under these circumstances the decisions should be quick and flexible.

Private sector would have to do away with centralised decision-making. To speed up decision-making, it would have to delegate it to a lower level. Companies can set up executive excellence panel and look for extraordinary partnerships instead of doing it alone.

For instance, companies that have not developed reliable e-commerce platforms they should partner with reputable e-commerce hubs to accelerate sales.

Another thing that has already happened is that the companies have learnt to operate with lean management. Those that work with nimble but empowered teams have greater chance of survival.

They would have to introduce hybrid work culture under which the low-cost capable worker is assisted by more qualified colleague at times of need only.

Future is bleak for those that fail to introduce future leaders now and redesign the roles of CEOs.

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