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Value-driven Indian firms to sustain as pandemic impact to last till early 2021

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As economic activity resumes in the pandemic management phase and Indian firms realigns their focus on revenue growth, several such firms would rush to play the short game and lose sight of long-term benefits but progressive firms will leverage customer and market behaviour to place their bets on long-term, sustainable growth, a new report said.

In the rush to make up for lost time and money, there will be hits and misses.

In the bid to control costs, firms that lose sight of what’s right for customers and employees will find that they lose the loyalty of both. On the flip side, firms that figure how to weave customer value into their cost-cutting measures will win, according to the report by global market insight and research firm Forrester.

“As India slowly lifts restrictions, we predict that this pandemic management phase will be the longest (out of the four phases of the coronavirus pandemic) and expect it to last through the end of the year and into early 2021, until a vaccine is in sight,” said Amit Bhatia, Senior Analyst (customer experience) at Forrester.

Firms in India will also struggle to sustain the employee experience, much less improve it.

“Now that they’ve seen the cost savings it brings, we expect the firms to continue to mandate some remote work post-lockdown, especially as cutting costs will be a priority for all firms. However, this will have a negative impact on the employee experience (EX),” added analyst Arnav Gupta.

The emergence of new eCommerce channels will also be delayed.

According to Satish Meena, Senior Forecast Analyst with Forrester, given the similarities between online behaviour in China and India, India also looked ripe for the emergence of new eCommerce channels.

“As in China, we expected Indian online retailers and investors to put their money on the livestreaming and reselling model of social commerce in 2020. However, COVID-19 has disrupted the supply chain and caused a decline in demand for nonessential goods,” said Meena.

With existing challenges such as a low online buyer base, high logistics costs, and limited manufacturing capacity in India, eCommerce companies will reevaluate the situation to include COVID-19’s impact on investment and consumer spending and, ultimately, delay new eCommerce channels.

“Rural BPOs will gain momentum. Automation has changed the skill matrix for business process outsourcers (BPOs) and created the need for a knowledge workforce. COVID-19 has added to the fray by dramatically distributing existing workers, creating a drain on skills and knowledge,” the report mentioned.

Rural BPOs from tier 2 and tier 3 cities have established themselves as valuable partners in grooming and developing talent; now they’ll become strategic talent management partners.

In the pandemic management phase, rural BPOs will use their symbiotic relationship with rural educational institutions to build sustainable centers of excellence.

“With a continued focus on infrastructure and connectivity developments, rural BPOs will also become viable business continuity/disaster recovery locations that offer more discrete, controllable operational environments,” said the report.

With the lockdown denting consumers’ incomes and predictions of a global recession hurting sentiment, consumer spending will be tight when the lockdown eases.

“People will spend only where they receive value which could be economic, functional, experiential, or symbolic in nature — but whatever the case, brands that are already value focused will have a head start,” the report added.


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