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The journey towards the “new normal”

Just like what the unfortunate 9/11 incident changed our world for good, I have a feeling that this Covid-19 pandemic across the world will do a similar thing. Never-heard-of terms like social distancing, etc are now part of daily lives and I am sure all new parents have these things on the top of their lists to educate their children. “Work from home” or WFH probably will no longer be an option, but rather a part of a normal workday for many of the employees across any place in the world. Already I have seen the sceptics of WFH are now advocating for this modality of working models as if they have been the biggest supporter of the same throughout their lives!

As we now plan for the new normal, let’s try and see the immediate impacts of some of the industries that hits us in our daily lives

Fast Moving Consumer Goods and Retail – While there might be temporary setbacks, this is likely to come back to prior levels and then grow as well. The question will be more of the timeframe rather than whether it can come back. However, I believe more online shopping aided by AR / VR technologies will be more popular than ever. Organisations that can focus on building capabilities by adapting technologies will be ahead of the game.

Hotel, Airlines and associated Travel Agencies – With more adaptation of technologies aided by better coverage and affordability, people might be reluctant to travel for business. My personal belief is that a major setback is going to happen in these areas. Add to that the high investment associated with these industries. Raising the fares / prices might not gain enough volumes and on the other hand, lower prices may not be commercially viable any more

Information Technology & Telecom Industry – Well, with more innovations around technology and adaptation of the same to the overall information gateway to organisations, this industry is bound to profit, even in the short term. However, delivery models are likely to change when it comes to delivering these IT projects for the clients. Similar story for Telecom industry with newer technologies like 5G and yet a cut-throat competitive landscape provides new challenges. Now it comes to provide not just a quality offering, but also supplement that with quality service mechanism.

Pharmaceutical and Health Care – These pandemics often expose the poor infrastructure and investment that happens in health care. While pharma companies still makes growth and hit big profits through patented medicines, the cost of production and distribution of some life saving drugs are likely to be more pressurized by the society in large. Hence, while the government spending and incentives might be on the rise, there has to be certain optics clearly made on corporate social responsibilities and that might be a tough balancing act

Logistics industry responsible for maintaining that crucial supply chain are likely to evolve beyond their normal roles and responsibilities. Using their well established network, there might be birth of more Uber Eats, Swiggy’s of the world that might club deliveries of household items on top of their food deliveries. Even they might be coming up with certain type of courier kind of work as they try to optimise their man power versus average revenue generated per person.

Restaurants are likely to evolve into driving 60% – 70% of their revenues through online food deliveries, while keeping in-dining facilities within fewer elite places. So, they might cut down on opening of multiple outlets within a city and instead focus on service niche value added products through on line channels

That leads to Real Estate business. If we are really going to see more work-from-home models, more online businesses, commercial real estate industry is probably going to be hit big time. It remains to be seen if big real estate giants can convert their spaces into pay-as-you-go office seat rentals with facilities of printers, video conferences, high speed internet, etc. Probably that might be the extended version of flexi-desk models already placed in many offices.

Media and Entertainment is also probably going to adapt to newer business models with more partnerships with OTT service providers. Maybe Netflix’es of the world will soon charge an additional $3 for an “opening-day-opening-show” premier of a blockbuster if you want to see the release on the first day itself. Multiplex’es and theaters have to rethink their usages and convert their assets into something that might bring in more revenue than showing movies and films

Education will move towards more online classes with flexibility of replays of lectures and so on. This will allow students to be well prepared based on their availabilities. This will bring in tremendous pressure on the teachers to be able to come up with online materials and preparation !

While Banks and Financial Institutions had been already moving towards more online and mobile channels, the current situation is likely to trigger more rapid move in the space. This will challenge the existing workforce engaged around these industries and many jobs might be redundant soon due to automation.

However, on the Personal Financial Management, I feel that this has the potential to grow rapidly if proper experts can be deployed to address financial planning to consumers. These pandemics expose the lack of planning of individuals and families – so the early players who can jump into that with quality services will be clear winners.

Lastly coming to Core Industries of manufacturing, iron and steel, oil and gas, etc. These probably drive the stability of the economic growth of nations and while each industries have their own set of challenges, they are likely to face ups and downs more frequently as we move along. Whether we move to Industry 5.0 soon with IoT, AI and what not, basic nature of manufacturing industries remains with the same characteristics.

I have not covered all possible industries – but I am sure there will be quite high impacts because of the Covid-19 situation in most of them. As we move towards the “new normal”, it all depends on who amongst all are the most agile and can spot opportunities coming up in the “new” world. After all, whether we like it or not, it’s always “survival of the fittest”

All opinions expressed here are personal and does not relate to any organisations linked to my professional world

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One thought on “The journey towards the “new normal”

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  1. Great insight… I am wondering how much can real estate sustain … as even with pay as you use … how much of the office spaces will be consumed … think about the technology parks in Bangalore …

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