By Madhav Sheth
The outbreak of COVID-19 globally and in India has upended many a status quo, daring us to adapt to new norms, rethink business contingencies and put on our thinking caps to strategise on the game plan post-COVID-19. While India Inc has shifted gears and put in place measures to tackle challenges, stem bottom-lines from bleeding out and prevent job-losses, there are certain palpable realities we are facing, nonetheless. With production halted for almost a month, lack of sales and growing inventory, many manufacturers are rightly focused on how to spring back into action once the pandemic subsides. However, every disruption brings a new state of affairs. CXOs need to go back to their drawing board, regroup, restrategise and come up with sustenance measures on how to give a new fillip to their brands and the smartphone industry.
Reduce imports, localise manufacturing
Smartphone brands and OEMs need to make a conscious effort towards picking up the steam on domestic manufacturing as this will help revive jobs to a good extent. Localisation in production of printed circuit boards, camera modules, semiconductors instead of importing them at high costs will ensure greater resource utilisation. The cluster manufacturing model, allowing the development of interconnected products and resources in one particular area, will allow cross-leveraging of skill-sets and innovation in the long run.
Work towards making Industry 4.0 a reality
If Industry 4.0 was in the spotlight, pre-crisis, to lend a competitive edge to businesses and promote innovation, its importance only gathers more clout in a post-crisis world. Once companies are in recovery mode, investments in research and development in this direction should gather momentum. For instance, workers across remote locations can troubleshoot problems and even collaborate with the help of digital twins, virtual and augmented reality. Use of autonomous guided vehicles, drones on the shop-floor will ensure flexibility and movement between production lines while ensuring social distancing.
Looking at consumers through a new lens
It is expected that the climate of cautiousness will continue for a longer period as consumers will shift to a digital journey rather than an offline experience. As a result, brands will have to carve out interesting touchpoints and approaches to engage with their customers on their online shopping experience. Be it through support communities online, social listening or live video marketing – brands will have to do a keener engagement on a customer’s online journey. Besides this, contactless delivery, social innovations on how consumers can be up to date on their health and hygiene will take center-stage. To revive buying appetites of consumers, merely a cost-effective and discounting strategy will not suffice. Innovation will emerge as the new cornerstone to bring consumers into the fold and earn their lasting loyalty.
Lastly, have a business contingency in place
While none of us had foreseen a global health crisis throwing our lives into disarray and prepared for it, it is always good to take a step back, assess your risks and plan for alternatives to save the day. For instance, manufacturers should invest in cross-training and up-skilling their workforce so that in times of crisis, people can step in and get the job done. There should be rigorous planning and measures taken to ensure that your inventory and assets are protected and insured, intellectual property and critical data are safeguarded, backups are in place if equipment stops working or server crashes. Consult with your business partners, assess your team strengths, assign roles and responsibilities and be ready to move to Plan B. It’s always important to have your business contingency in place at the beginning of each year and be future-ready.
Sheth is vice-president realme and CEO of realme India