The current situation of Coronavirus related lockdown, disrupted imports of IT products from China and disruption of supply chain in India has led to a crisis of IT products, especially hardware that are dependent upon Chinese imports. However, there are other kinds of IT businesses that have grown in demand. This exploration showcases three such viewpoints about the impact of Coronavirus on IT businesses in India.
As is widely seen, the hardware products dependent upon the Chinese imports are in a shortage and the IT industry is trying to struggle through the Coronavirus crisis. At the same time, IT platforms which offer analytics-based services to other sectors may also be in a state of uncertainty. For example, imports and exports are completely cut off now with the suspension of international and national travel and bottlenecks in the movements of goods. Hence, Data Anyltics of IT platforms which give consultancy to import and export companies may be affected. hence, they have to devise new strategies of survival.
As said by Veeraj Thaploo, CTO, Blazeclan Technologies, “At a sensitive time like this, we understand that businesses regardless of the industry will be impacted. In the last few weeks, we have implemented a series of measures from our established business continuity plan. These measures are helping us effectively address the epidemic while our management teams help us oversee our efforts. Our business continuity plan critically involves helping the clients understand risks while implementing practices to mitigate them. This is to ensure that our operations continue seamlessly. We believe that for successful business operations, in times of crisis like the Coronavirus outbreak, trusting our clients is most important. Our value of ‘customer obsession’ runs through every member of Blazeclan, which eventually ensures continued business for us.”
As said above, Systems and Networking Engineering services are actually rising in demand with a large number of employees across all sectors working from home during the Coronavirus outbreak. This means that installation of software, networking and long-distance communication technology along with security services have all to be availed at fst pace. Post-installation maintenance is also an issue. All this has seen an increase in the demand for networking and installation engineers.
As Sunil Peter, AVP, BCP & IT, Maveric Systems says, “We are seeing a minimal impact at this stage across our operations but we are analysing our business continuity plans to see if more employees need to work from home, keeping in mind the planned customer deliverables. We have flexible policies that can be leveraged in case need arises. We are cautiously optimistic about the market at the moment and are planning for the coming quarters, factoring any potential business impact as a result of this crisis. A customized BCP plan is prepared keeping in mind the requirement of the client and also the advisory released by the local authorities. We are asking employees to work from home in shifts based on the criticality of the tasks that they are handling. Apart from that, our physical facilities are being sanitized on a regular basis and the employees are being screened for any symptoms at all.”
He continues, “Our primary focus is to keep our people safe. At Maveric, we have taken drastic steps to critically analyse travel schedules and plans of our associates and executives. At the BCP command centre, we are working with all the relevant stakeholders such as airlines, government authorities, travel agents to ensure there is best possible available travel and accommodation option is enabled for the associates. On a daily and weekly basis there are coaching and awareness sessions that are being conducted for all the associates in which the information and steps published by the WHO and local authorities are evangelised.”
IBM has developed a chat app to help the goernent to respond to queries of the people. Says Gargi Dasgupta, Director, IBM Research India and CTO IBM India /South Asia, “In just last three months, the Coronavirus pandemic has altered nearly every aspect of our personal and professional lives. As a trusted technology leader, running the most critical systems in the world, IBM is committed to marshaling the company’s resources to help clients, governments, health agencies and academic institutions, monitor and manage the outbreak through various initiatives. In these challenging times, its critical to offer accurate information to all constituents and hence a clear opportunity to apply AI to quickly answer common questions at a very large scale. IBM developed the Watson Assistant for Citizens to provide an AI-powered virtual agent that helps governments deliver accurate information to their citizens without overwhelming contact centers where human agents are needed to help those who truly need them. To introduce this offering in India, IBM Research has trained Watson Assistant to answer queries in English and Hindi to enable various Government agencies and Departments to offer this service to its constituents. ”
LogMeIn is now offering access to its collaboration and remote access software for free to governments, municipalities, educational institutions, healthcare organisations, and non-profits during the Coronvirus outbreak. According to LogMeIn, the platform named as ‘Emergency Remote Work Kits’ provides meetings and video conferencing solutions which facilitate webinars and virtual events, remote IT support, and remote device access to ensure these critical organisations stay connected when it matters most.
Turning a Crisis into an Opportunity
There are some organisations which are turning the crisis situation into an opportunity for themselves and also for their clients.
As said by Monish Darda, CTO & Co-Founder, Icertis, “Short term problems can be turned into a long term opportunity for strong companies that are willing to change quickly. The Coronavirus outbreak will break many IT businesses in India. Customers going bankrupt, severe pricing pressures, takedowns because of Force Majeure clauses in contracts, shutdowns of offshore delivery centres may become harsh realities.
He advises the following –
- Focus on the fundamentals– At Icertis, we have the 4 rings of responsibility – take care of self, take care of family, take care of community and take care of business. An IT company’s biggest assets are its employees – take them into confidence, and share the realities of business. Focus on getting them productive in the new normal. Empathy is everything!
- Laser focus on your customers – Ask how they are doing, hear their problems, and then try and see if you have a solution. They say adversity is the mother of invention, but you need to know which inventions they will pay for. And give some things up to ensure you retain your customers and come through as partners.
- Laser focus on your markets– Icertis has the largest global repository of contracts in the world, and we are seeing (perhaps not surprisingly), very significant activity in domains like healthcare, pharmaceuticals, non-government organisations and system integrators. Bring the company together quickly to focus on your strengths, and quickly defocus from weaknesses. For example, manufacturing, hospitality, travel and retail will probably be most hit
- Turn advantages into potent weapons– since almost no one is going to office to work, remote teams and remote teams are good words now! With the Dollar exchange rate, this will open up new models quickly. From remote surveillance to remote implementations of SaaS products, global enterprises will want Indian IT companies to step up. Just as China was the factory of the world, so India has the potential to be the Inventor of the World! And take this opportunity to evolve new models with Work From Home as the core.
We can see that a crisis can affect different vectors in the same sector differently and can elicit different responses from the stakeholders.