Businesses have responded to the pandemic-enforced environment through adaptability, innovation, and ideation. These three parameters have helped businesses survive the onslaught of the pandemic. Some major pandemic-induced innovations are as follows:
According to the in Small and Medium Business Trends, 99% of the surveyed businesses plan to continue with digital payments, mobile orders, and digital customer service. These factors have contributed to the ease of doing business and hence facilitated business growth.
The hotel industry was severely affected during the pandemic, especially the five-star hotels. Marriott launched the concept of Marriott Bonvoy on Wheels. This enabled customers to have luxury dining in the comfort of their own homes. This is a classic example of trying to reach out to customers when they are unable to visit the restaurants.
Small businesses were tremendously impacted during the pandemic lockdown phase. Finances and marketing support have played a critical role in their survival. Adopting new technologies has helped small businesses reach out to their target audiences. The transition to digital marketing has helped small businesses create a digital presence and thus compete effectively.
The severe impact of the pandemic was felt on the supply chain as it was impacting all major sectors. This sector has also adopted digital transformation well. All factors creating a supply-chain jam have now been successfully negated through technological interventions. Warehouse robots, forklifts, trucks without drivers, and drones are all contributing to seamless supply chain integration into the digital mode. Companies like Dunzo and BlinkIt (erstwhile Grofers) can ensure retail supplies within 20-30 minutes. A classic example of technology adoption solving a pandemic-related supply chain problem.
Another sector severely impacted by the pandemic was the education sector. It was severely dependent on the physical presence of students in class in educational institutions. The pandemic hastened the adoption of online education, relieving the physical infrastructure of the huge pressure of student numbers. What followed the online system is the now more technically correct blended system, wherein the online education system becomes an impactful partner to the full-time physical education system. Keeping in mind the education of younger students, the construction industry sought to adopt touchless taps on washbasins and toilets, and motion-sensing doors to reduce transmission chances.
The healthcare sector has taken the actual brunt of the pandemic, with hospital stays, requirements for oxygen, and trained medical staff all getting seriously impacted during the first two phases of the pandemic. The Omicron phase was characterised by online doctor consultations, thereby reducing the pressure on the hospital administration. This has also extended to the treatment of other diseases wherein physical examination may not be mandated. A follow-up visit could be done online followed by the main visit, thereby reducing the risk of infection.
Community sensitivity was best seen in phase 2 of the pandemic, wherein there was a serious shortage of oxygen, hospital beds, and Remdesivir injections. Many student pools were created that sourced the exact information on hospital beds and the remdesivir injection, providing instant information to patients and their families. This proved to be the difference between life and death for many patients suffering from the disease.
To summarize, human ingenuity has always been most responsive during any crisis. This is true more so in Indian cases, as we have been a nation of ‘have nots’ rather than the ‘haves’. This may have proved to be our greatest defence in combating the disease. When nations froze and were paralysed on the course of action to be taken, we as a nation have completed 1,894,676,946 (WHO estimate as of May 2nd, 2022) vaccine doses and counting.
If necessity is the mother of invention, the pandemic has proved to be the precursor to the survival of the fittest.
Adapt, Reinvent, Survive.
The author is the Project Mentor for Lexicon Centre of MSME Excellence and the Director IQAC & Global Programs.