By Kaushik Bagchi, Vice President – Information Management Asia Pacific, ASG Technologies
“Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations.” - Faith Baldwin
At the beginning of the year, I spent one 16-hour flight from New York to Mumbai doing one thing: thinking about the “new” that I was going to take on in 2020, personally and professionally. I envisioned how to introduce some exciting new messages from my company, ASG Technologies, to the market; how to look at new market opportunities in India, the Middle East and Europe; and how to deal with the fact that my only son had moved abroad for college.
Today, three months later and a world apart, I see that the plans I laid that day still apply — but with an overwhelming new question added to them: “How do I do all of this without leaving my home?” I know that I am not alone. There are many others like me all over the world, busy thinking about answering the same new question with varying degrees of complexity, opportunity and challenges involved. As the shock settles in, we realize that it’s been almost three months and what was once new is not that new anymore — it’s just a way of life.
As leaders, our prime concern is how to serve our teams and clients during these times of unprecedented challenges. We also understand that when things start getting back to normal after a large-scale disruption, there are some business models and technology trends in every industry that face significant headwinds or tailwinds. It is critical that we anticipate those shifts and realign ourselves to adopt operating models and technology capabilities that will enable us to embrace the benefits of the tailwinds rather than be subject to the headwinds.
Since technology is my industry, let me highlight three technology-enabled themes that businesses can leverage to come out of COVID-19 stronger.
1. Distance is here to stay but relations must get stronger.
For most of our working years, we have believed there is really no substitute for physical meetings — for people getting together in one place to ideate, celebrate or just collaborate. This concept is changing now, however, and organizations are realizing that it can be very cost-effective running certain engagements remotely and digitally, provided we can ensure that the relations do not suffer. The key to sustaining or even building better relationships remotely is experience. The experience that we deliver to our clients, employees and all stakeholders when they engage with the enterprise digitally will play a key role in separating the winners from the losers.
2. Drive down cost per transaction.
Businesses across the world are grappling with the issue of cashflow and challenge of bringing down the cost of doing business. Many initiatives around optimizing the supply chain, restructuring the workplace, rethinking manufacturing, etc., are being explored — all of which are targeted towards reducing the cost per transaction. These could be around client acquisition, client servicing or distributing products to name a few. Companies are looking at building automation-centric digital platforms that can do more for less and drive down the cost of transactions significantly.
3. Build a lower cost of innovation platform.
When keeping the house in order becomes difficult, businesses often tend to shun their aspirational, innovation projects. Sometimes, the only way to come out of a disruption is to innovate and change the existing order. That’s when innovation becomes the primary condition of survival and future success. It is critical that organizations use their ability to drive lower cost of transaction to build and facilitate a lower cost of innovation digital platform. Look at newer business models and launch those digital processes fast to be tested and validated. Once validated, scrap or double down on them, and finally look to scale them for success.
To summarize this in one sentence: Organizations that build agile digital automation platforms that deliver superior experience to all stakeholders and save money to foster innovation will be the winners in the post COVID-19 era.
A crisis of this scale will imprint itself on our lives for a long time to come. We will learn to find our way through these difficult times and emerge stronger. Working from home and rebalancing priorities has been a fulfilling personal experience. My organization, ASG Technologies, provides a great work-from-home experience technologically and culturally.
Let me conclude by referring to how we began: maybe it’s time to take the word “new” out of the “new normal” and embrace it as our way of life from now on