Beyond COVID-19: Transitioning to a ‘New Normal’
By Manjula Muthukrishnan
“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” – The Wizard of Oz
With more than 2 million people across 200 countries impacted by the novel Coronavirus pandemic, the world is presently knee-deep in uncharted waters, and the only way to move forward is to embrace what can only be called, the new normal. The last quarter has seen some truly radical changes in the way businesses and economies function. While essential workers continue to fight this pandemic on the front lines, the rest of us mere mortals are adapting to lockdowns and social distancing while transitioning toward an era of permanent changes in the way we live and work. What could possibly be in store for businesses as we move ahead into the new financial year? Let’s find out.
Transitioning from brick and mortar
It is only in the last three months as the Coronavirus has traveled from the East to the West, that the corporate sector has been forced to implement its business continuity plans and truly experience remote working. Organizations are quickly moving to accelerate the process of implementing their digital transformation strategies and are starting to invest in cloud-based storage, automation solutions, cybersecurity, remote communication, and more. This paradigm shift is notably visible across various sectors, including Information Technology, Finance, and Education.
The localization of supply chains
The transformation of supply chains is likely to be a lasting impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Travel and trade restrictions in this unfortunate hour are making organizations rethink their existing supply chain and opt for smaller and shorter supply chain processes. A shorter, localized supply chain would reduce the amount of cash tied up in the supply chain. It will also minimize inventory stuck in containers or with Customs. Finally, it will allow businesses to evolve regionally and focus on domestic markets and untapped local territories.
Outsourcing service models likely to gain popularity
While manufacturing locally will help businesses shorten their supply chain, another trend that might quickly catch on is the outsourcing of services. Experts have predicted an oncoming recession, and if companies want to stay ahead of the curve, they are going to have to figure out how to reduce overall costs. One of the easiest ways to deal with rising business costs is to determine what operations stay in-house and what can be outsourced. The conversion of fixed costs to variable expenses wherever feasible will allow businesses a breather in the upcoming economic storm.
Supply chain resilience is key to recovery
Since the novel Coronavirus outbreak is not your typical risk event, its impact was never anticipated, and that is why it has managed to disrupt supply chains globally in such a short time. At this point, businesses need to run a continuous cycle of risk monitoring and risk analysis to determine how best to bounce back from this situation, while keeping in mind that their survival plans need to be relevant to the business even in the future.
Building on adaptability and agility
Survivors might not be among the strongest, but they are among the smartest of the lot. Only the ones that are quick to adapt, who are willing to embrace and, more importantly, work around the current situation while continuing to remain customer-centric will have many chances of coming out victorious during this challenging transitional period.
Tax mandates after Corona
As businesses adapt and evolve in this state of emergency, digitization of tax becomes the need of the hour. As economies fluctuate, changes in tax laws, tax rates, deadlines are likely. Those businesses who will continue to focus on traditional tax filing and manual compliance tasks are expected to fall behind and will spend a large amount of their time playing catch up with their counterparts who have opted for tax automation. Introducing cloud-based SaaS automation tools to manage tax and compliance tasks will help businesses use this time to focus on what’s essential – viz. survival strategies, reconnecting with the customer, reestablishment of core operations, growth of the market and finally, expansion.
The coronavirus pandemic has sent shock waves across the globe. While the hope is that most businesses will eventually pick up, dust off, and move forward, they need to use this pandemic as a learning opportunity and prepare for more unprecedented challenges in the future.
(The author is Managing Director of Avalara Technologies Private Limited, Indian operations of Avalara, Inc. And the views expressed in the article are her own)