Glimpse of the ‘new normal’ after the coronavirus according to industry experts
MANILA, Philippines – When the Philippine government announced the enhanced community quarantine last March 16, companies were forced to shift to remote work. While some were able to transition seamlessly in a short amount of time, most were not prepared. This posed problems not just for the employees who didn’t have the right tools but company owners as well who had to risk data protection and security issues by allowing their employees to take home company computers.
Remote work is just one of elements of this new normal. There are many other ways this pandemic is disrupting industries—for instance, the education sector shifting to digital learning, retail adopting e-commerce platforms, and BFSI looking into contactless banking. However, with the right data and guidance from key leaders, enterprises can keep up with the new business environment.
This is what PLDT Enterprise wanted to share with business owners through Tech Talk On Air which was streamed live last April 23 with more than 400k viewers tuned in. They partnered with One News, the news channel of Cignal TV, to provide global insights and industry trends to help different industries cope with the new era.
Cyrus Mewawalla, Head of Thematic Research at GlobalData, said that there seems to be no slow down in the virus’s exponential growth. With 197 countries affected, we’re getting 100,000 new cases per day. Because of this, all major stock markets are down year to date. The U.S. is down at 11%, U.K. at 24%, Brazil at 47%, and China at 6%.
Despite these depressing statistics, Dr. Bernardo Villegas, a renowned economist, remains optimistic about our country’s future. “There's a lot of talk about the new normal but there will always be the old normal that consists of our competitive advantage in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.
Together with Indonesia and Vietnam, we’re among the few emerging markets providing the world with more than 10 million overseas workers. Dr. Villegas also said that we have more than one million BPO and IT workers, two of the industries that will likely survive this pandemic.
The second advantage is the Philippines being a consumption-driven economy. “We can still grow because our businesses are focused on selling to 110 million Filipinos which is what will also happen this year,” he said. According to the International Institute of Finance in Washington, D.C., the Philippines is among the countries in the Asia-Pacific region that will likely see positive growth this year.
The third is our fiscal state. Dr. Villegas said that our debt to GDP ratio is one of the lowest in the region at 30%. This proves that our government can act as a prime mover in attaining recovery.
Given all these advantages, how can industries cope with the new era?
Consumers and enterprises will have to adopt new ways of engagement. The new normal requires a heavy reliance on technology to reduce manual labor.
To do this, enterprises need to start digitizing key business processes, assets, and goods tracking, and the use of outsourced but managed data centers and cloud-based services.
They also have to create a remote work model for employees to avoid cybersecurity and data privacy issues. This includes the adoption of collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Cisco WebEx.
Lastly, industries must start encouraging self-service and contactless operations for their customers. With this shift to digital, business owners must learn how to use social media and mobile-based applications to understand their behavior and be able to come up with new ideas to serve them.
Aside from adopting technology to create new ways of engagement, business owners are also recommended to take the 4-step approach below:
- Evaluate what problems were encountered during COVID-19, what is needed in the next 6 months
- Redefine the business by enabling e-commerce and strengthening digital channels
- Build ecosystems or partnerships by adapting a business development mindset
- Embrace change and get out of the rigidity trap
“This pandemic has and continues to change lives, disrupt industries, and transform the world. While the sea of uncertainties around us will not part any time soon, it is incumbent upon us to redefine what tomorrow will look like not only for our business but for society at large—and this begins with us,” said Jovy Hernandez, President and CEO of ePLDT Group.
“At PLDT enterprise we believe that for technology to be effective, it must provide real value to every Filipino. As PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan has said, technology is the ultimate equalizer of opportunities."
Tech Talk On Air was also participated by a distinguished roster of panelists including: John Gonzales, Vice President of PLDT Enterprise Digital Solutions, Bing-Sibal Limjoco, Chairwoman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Alfie Deato, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of LBC Express, Dr. Dan Lachica, President of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. (SEIPI), Rey Untal, President and CEO of IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), Lito Villanueva, Chief Innovation and Inclusion Officer of the Yuchengco Group of Companies (YGC), and Richard Cruz, Associate Professor at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).
To learn more, watch the live recording of the webinar below: