India’s leading telecom publication, Voice & Data, today organized a webinar, titled, “Re-building Business after Covid-19”.
Opening the webinar, Shubhendu Parth, Consulting Editor, Voice & Data, and moderator, said that we have seen WFH and collaboration happen in these times. SaaS has also seen a surge. He said that without the telecom backbone, India would not have managed to survive for even 30 days.
Presenting his thoughts, Manoj Chugh, President, Group Public Affairs & member of Group Executive Board, Mahindra & Mahindra, said that today, we are in the land of the unprecedented. This a very challenging time. This is dramatically different to anything else. We are said to be in Covid-19 V1.0, and V2.0 is said to be hitting us soon. At the end of the day, we will overcome. We need steadfast resolve. We are talking about the vaccine.
We also need to run our businesses. We are in a race now. Many businesses are forecasting a reduction in cashflow. So, what do we focus on today? Where do we start?
More agile organizations
Chugh continued that organizations have never before showed such agility. First, we need to care about the employee security and safety. Thousands of employees are now WFH. Technology has enabled connectivity. We have never seen this. It is happening across sectors, such as, manufacturing, financial, etc. They are making sure business is in continuity. We are now preparing for a long haul ahead.
Large organizations are also looking at saving cash. We are doing all we can to help workers, those who are in healthcare, are under privileged, etc. Community engagement is very consistent. It has been a pillar. Next, how many of us will continue to WFH? Customers will now come to us through different channels. We need to prepare for all of this. We need to identify hubs of the business that are Covid-19-resistant. Where are we, as placed against the competitors? We need to analyze and focus on our strengths.
We have seen lot of new businesses that have been scrapped, but they have come back through providing sanitizers. Here is an opportunity! Trust your employees. They will all deliver!
Telecom the winner!
Rajan Mathews, Director-General, COAI, noted that the telecom industry had been going through a cash crunch even before the Covid-19 hit us. We realized that this telecom asset has actually helped us a lot in these times.
We have also learnt that our networks have shown that they have remained stable 99.99% at all times. The network has been resilient and has been consistent. In a couple of days, traffic spiked on our networks. Voice consumption has been 880 minutes per person, per month. Our networks have also managed to change accordingly. We have all done this together. We have worked with the agencies, local authorities, etc.
We also have seen a close working between the government and the industry. We all set up war rooms. On LSAs, (local service areas) we had challenges. We have met that challenge. Regulators are now working with us. They told us to focus on the critical things. Working with the industry and the government has been really key. If there was a faulty tower in local areas, there have been corrections done. With the help of DoT and municipalities, we have reduced that number. Youtube, Amazons, etc., have reduced their speeds from HD to SD in these critical times.
We now recognize that the financial health of the industry has to improve. Right of way must be there. Fiber should be added. There should be either cat 5 or cat 6 cables in houses. We have to use this situation to reduce the rural-urban divide. We can also use this opportunity to go online and do learning.
Crisis presents opportunities
Pradeep Gupta, CMD, Cybermedia, stated: “Never let a crisis go to waste! Every crisis presents opportunities.”
The 2003 SARS virus led to foundation of Deccan Airways. Two companies from IIT Delhi are also there, and they have moved into sanitizers and PPEs. New kinds of businesses have emerged after demonetization. Facebook and Jio are also seeing an opportunity.
The Indian Government has to come up with schemes for businesses. SMEs are the backbone of India. There will be schemes from the banks as well. We also need to combine the head and the heart and take tough decisions. We have taken decisions. Entrepreneurs also need to take decisions. Investors are watchful of the situation.
Will business be the same when we come back? Perhaps, WFH will be there. Video conferencing will be more embedded in the system, as would digital. Face-to-face interactions will continue.
Trustworthy WFH policies in future
Manoj Chugh noted that many organizations did not have WFH policies. Going forward, people will be setting up much more trustworthy WFH policies. Social distancing will stay for a time. We also need to see what all this will mean about security, IP, etc. We will start renegotiating with customers.
We are going to take the best learnings and implement some, or all of those. Technology and digital platforms will play a bigger role. There is an opportunity to go deeper into the supply chains in our country. We also need to make our pitch. The government is also welcoming MSMEs to join in.
Rajan Mathews advised that from the financial perspective, we need to re-engineer and re-orient our processes. Drones are going to take off, so let’s look at this opportunity. We now have collaboration and conferencing. We have to also upskill our IT skills. This is the time we need to learn how to do things digitally. We need to also teach a huge mass of people who need skilling.
This is a great opportunity to start manufacturing. We have to focus on what are expertise is. We are an IT powerhouse. We have to get into design, robotics, software, etc. We have to rework relationships between the government and industry. Covid-19 has shown us.
Pradeep Gupta added that companies will not be rushing out of China and rushing into India. He advised the SMEs that they need to understand their customers in the changing requirements, and redefine their businesses.