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The Impact of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic on Business


By Wan Muhammad Al-Amin Wan Ismail

Million across the globe feeling the coronavirus outbreak. These are few ways the COVID-19 outbreak may affect the business specifically in the world of technology:

Working from home

As people are forced or recommended to stay at home, companies were suddenly faced with an environment where everyone left their offices and working from home. Business is now rethinking entire business model they are in. Do they still need an office? But to be honest with ourselves, let’s ask whether productivity going up when working from home? Work from home is not necessarily great for everyone. We can ask ourselves, do we really support our people to work from home? Business needs to give their people right facilities and infrastructure such as laptop, internet, video conferencing application such as Zoom, access to data and so on. Those company who invest in a digital system that allowed to access cloud-based solution anywhere and had good security in the background are much in better shape.

In order to ensure that people can really work from home, a business should also provide mental support such as regularly showing appreciation towards its people, provide individual life support and promote the involvement of employees in decision making.

Business model innovation

The business needs to reflect on what are they going to offer to its customers and how do they operate as a business. As a result of COVID-19 pandemic, we can see that many industries have completely transformed in 2020. For example, education industries. They had to jump into the digital platform to give kids and students who are learning from home an access to their course material. They are now delivering their lessons on video conferencing. Students are meeting via Zoom.

The business needs to think about how the market shifting and how do they transform their business model. With limited physical interaction, customers are move towards the online platform to buy products. To stay competitive, a business must respond to these behavioural changes and meet emerging customer demand. The trade war between the USA and China may also force some business to move from global to local business.

Automation for economies of scales

The brand name on the front of a phone or laptop or TV only tells us who designed it. Assembling all the part is a complicated web of contractors, subcontractors and warehouses which go completely unseen. For example, there is indeed a factory that makes TV but that factory doesn’t necessarily make the TV screen. The screens are made by another factory. The processing chips are made at different factory and the power supply may be made at yet another factory.

It’s all interconnected. If just one factory and supplier are shut down, the entire system can grind to a halt.

Since there are uncertainties over restrictions of movement order by the Government which are announced based on the number of COVID-19 cases in particular area, a business should look at their business process and ask where they can take people out of the process where they are not really adding true value.

We have seen this in warehouses in the supply chain, where now have been automated.

Social engagement

What company need to do is they need to make sure they engage with their customers and potential customers across social media. This has become such an important channel, especially during the pandemic. We can now see that business use “influencers” like YouTubers and artists to engage with the customers to bring their product to the customers.

In conclusion, the above impact had encouraged and to some extent, forced the business to adopt digital transformation to ensure their competitiveness in the market. The Government programme such as MyDigital- the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint launched on 18 February 2021 is another initiative to serves as a digital transformation direction plan that can drive the business sector to compete in the global arena by enhancing expediency and efficiency of operations. The business must be ready for this “New Norm”.