I am certain that everyone is a bit anxious to get back to what we called a normal life after the lockdown is lifted. However, what we ‘deemed’ normal will no longer be the same post COVID. It has been over 40 days since we started and the impact of the virus to our society and businesses is extensive.
Let’s begin with personal positives. When the world took a pause, we got the chance to spend more time with the people we love and care about. Most of us were too busy earning a living. We were also wasting a lot of time in traffic prior to the lockdown. I personally know people whose family is asleep when they leave for work and asleep again when they got home from work. People were also too busy to set aside a few minutes of quiet time with God. Their concept of a relationship with God, prior to lockdown, is attending weekly services. Attendance to a weekly service was sometimes not consistent. However, during the lockdown, I pray that we were able to spend more time praying and developing a stronger relationship with God.
There are also challenges in our country. A majority of the businesses had to pause operations. This resulted in zero revenue for the company and no work no pay for us employees. This is particularly concerning even more for those of us that have people relying on us; family members and regular support to other people. For companies, like groceries or providers of ‘necessities’, their employees are able to earn a living but are exposing themselves to possible infection.
Now the million-dollar question is “how will business owners reposition their businesses?” For a number of companies, no contact and no congregating policy will impact their revenues. I would imagine that CTO’s and other executives in charge of IT will have to accelerate the companies Digital Transformation from years to a matter of weeks. If they don’t have a clear Digital Transformation Strategy until now then I cannot imagine how their business will cope with the new normal.
There is no question about the immediate need to automate services. It has to be clear, communicated, and planned. Companies that still refuse or are slow to decide will clearly be left behind.
The question is no longer ‘do we implement a digital transformation program’. The question now is two parts;
- How fast can we implement our digital transformation strategy?
- How can we align our products and services to leverage digital technology?
During this pandemic, I tried purchasing my groceries online. However, the experience proved to be frustrating. Our more popular online groceries are not up to the challenge. There were two so-called online groceries that accommodated by transactions all the way to payment. When I was about to pay, the online grocery advised that there were no slots for delivery. Why did the system allow me to reach the payment and delivery portion if there was no way for them to deliver? I wasted at least 30 minutes. Very poor customer experience design and management of the site.
Here is an opportunity. If there is a company out here in the country that can create a truly reliable online grocery and partner with a reliable delivery company then you are golden. A TRUE online grocery does not yet exist in the Philippines. The ones that are available are poorly designed and managed. Once a reliable online grocery (great customer experience and quick delivery) plays in this market then the rest of the mediocre ones will start fading away. I cannot wait for that to happen.
Another possible opportunity is an online service for running errands. These can be errands from buying flowers to searching the internet for the best comfort food restaurants in Quezon City. There is a similar app in Android. However, they charge way too much for an hour of service. Considering the traffic situation and distances of the errand, the cost can be prohibitive. If an errand service business model can be designed to be low-cost and scalable similar to the business model of Grab then maybe that’s something worth using by the public.
Here is what I am trying to say. If business owners simply stick to their pre-COVID business model then it’s highly possible that the model won’t work as successfully as before. What business owners need to start considering prior to the lifting of the lockdown is ‘how should my business model look like in order to take advantage of the New Normal?’ It’s not an easy question to ask. However, there is clear peril for the companies that do not bother to ask this question.
How will you position your products and services in the New Normal? The answer would be different for different companies and industries. Clearly, for the educational industry, online learning will be the main driver. For the retail industry, e-commerce may be one way of mitigating the risk. However, the e-commerce platform should be reliable and easy to navigate. The retail prices should also be lower than ‘brick and mortar’ prices since the cost of selling their goods is lower.
This is the time to get into a Design Thinking exercise or something similar. Design Thinking is an exercise that was created years ago by an Innovation company. Companies that use it are able to come up with innovative customer-centric solutions to their challenges. Design Thinking can also be conducted with careful preparation using a digital platform.
Time is gold, take a careful look at your company’s product and service. The world will not adjust to us. We need to adjust to the changing needs and situation of the society and the world.
Back to my question ‘Company product and services post lockdown – will it be the different?’