Kohinoor Ghosh- A BE (Electronics & Telecommunication) (Jadavpur University, Kolkata) and a Post graduate in Business Management ( XLRI, Jamshedpur) Kohinoor presently works as a Business Unit head in a Bangalore based multinational company.
“What does not kill you, make you stronger” is proven again. The world has emerged smarter and more conscious,as we are slowly moving towards physical recovery from the disease called Covid-19.
Despite steady progress in physical recovery, the question that bothers everyone is the scar left behind by the pandemic in our lives’ psychological, behavioral, societal, and economic aspects. Have we realized the full impact, or do we see the tip of the iceberg? Was the situation anything less impactful than a full-blown world war? How will those 2~3 years old toddlers make up for the loss of social learning from their friends in the neighbourhood playground? How will the members of the families that lost their sole earning member in the pandemic make both ends meet? How will the people who lost their jobs in the pandemic find a new job? Scary enough, but we may have to witness many uncomfortable developments, gradually unfolding in months and years to come.The havoc that Covid 19 caused across the globe can never be narrated enough. So, let’s not try that. Let’s look at this period from a different and brighter perspective? What did the pandemic teach us?
The business environment, which was already Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA), had turned more so during the pandemic. However, the world responded to the crisis quickly. After getting overwhelmed initially with the sudden onslaught, the business houses did quickly put their acts together.
The list of learning out of this crisis isas long as that of sufferings, and few on the top are behavioural change and cognizance to the rule of nature.
Adoption and adaption of Covid appropriate behaviourare more internal than external use of mask and hand sanitiser. The change is towards caring for society, an approach that will primarily change human behaviour and influence the corporates too, as to how it would run its business in the future.
So long, the concern for the environment has been very much top-down, but it will be a probably more inclusive effort from now on. This will have a significant impact on business operations.
All businesses will be more concerned about sustainability. Uses of fossil fuel energy will be optimized and will slowly and steadily leave space for green energy. Uses of polluting fuel for personal and industrial services will also be optimized, and eventually, some industries may find its existence unviable.
Civic bodies and city planning authorities will reprioritize their plan to make the public transport system more efficient to encourage people to leave their vehicles at home and use the public transport system.
These changes were in the planning stage for a long but would probably see rapid implementation and are expected to garner wide public acceptance. Silver line in the mayhem!
Job losses have been the second most serious impact after the losses of lives. The effect is not on individuals alone but the society. Corporates had to resort to job cuts to save the ship. The bottom of the pyramid, as always, has been most severely impacted,and they will probably be the last to recover. A hard reality! However,as I write this article, I see many small establishments limping back to normal. The revival of these strata of the society is significant for the whole economy to revive,as in countries like India, this is the class that drives the consumption and hence the entire economy.
With a large population worldwide getting vaccinated rapidly and the probability of third-wave waning, there is an air of immediate relief. Still,the Industry would do good to prepare itself for any such future shocks – be it from a pandemic or some other calamity. There is no easy or definite solution on a platter, but few actions are clear and beyond any debate.
Strengthening the health care system is the topmost priority. Allocating a higher budget by the governments is the minimum that is required but not enough. Quality, Affordability and Equality also need to be ensured. Government alone won’t handle this mammoth task;public-private-partnership with optimized government control will be the way to go.
However, the health care system supports us when we are sick; we also need to ensure that we don’t get exposed to an unsafe environment. The current industrial environment does not guarantee that, but we have digital technology today at our disposal, which will almost certainly do that.
Industries are quickly transforming digitally. It is shifting from automated operation to autonomous operation,empowered by digital technologies like Big data Analysis, AI, Machine learning,BlockChain, Digital Twins, Robotics etc. Robots can do much of human’s work. Human resourcecan do much higher-level, intellectual tasks of improvisation. Human being can be spared from the exposure of harsh and unsafe environments.
Autonomy will aid to the sustainability drive too. In its matured form, Autonomy will bring in visibility throughout the entire value chain, optimize the resources, and enable the circular economy. Not only one single manufacturing unit nor multiple units, but Autonomy will alsoallow the entire eco-system to operate more efficientlywith optimized resources.
Will it cause loss of jobs? The same botheration haunted us at the advent of the computer in the late 80s but was proven baseless. Now we all know that Computerization did not cause loss of jobs; it caused a shift towards more meaningful work by human force than mindless dataentry on a manual logbook. Autonomy will also trigger a paradigm shift for the good of the process and the human being. A whole new Digital Workforce and Culture will emerge.
While Autonomy has been discussed for a few years now, the pandemic has made it an all-importantplan for the industry. Sooner than later, all segments of economic activities, be it process industry or discrete industry, financial sector or agricultural sector, Autonomy will be all-prevailing. This will enable higher safety,higher productivity, cleaner environment with human beings performing a higher level of tasks!
A win-win-win situation for society, industry and environment and be quick balm to the scar left by the pandemic. New Normal, as we all have affectionately named it!