The first half of 2020 saw businesses reel in shock from the collapse of the way of life as we knew it. However, in the second half of the year businesses started adapting to the new normal towards recovery. The Reserve Bank of India revised its forecast of economic growth for the current fiscal year (2020-21) to (-)7.5% in December 2020 compared to its earlier forecast of (-)9.5%. The second half of the fiscal year is expected to show positive growth.
This proves the dynamism as well as the volatility of the business landscape. There is an opportunity for businesses to change their narrative from struggle to recovery and growth through a positive outlook, agility and persistence. Consumer behavior has changed immensely in the last one year, shifting online at an unprecedented rate. Retailers with physical-only presence are witnessing greater challenges, with reduced footfalls, disrupted supply chains, and a distant recovery. According to a recent NRF survey, 9 in 10 consumers have changed their traditional shopping habits. And more than 50% of consumers have ordered products online that they would normally purchase at the store.
Considering the consistent change, business leaders across the industry need to be more agile to capitalise on emerging opportunities, which will help them chart a recovery and growth path in 2021.
Agility to bring new and relevant offerings
Disruption always gives rise to new formats and offerings in the market, as also seen post the internet boom at the turn of the millennia. Pivoting to altered serviced basis the present need of the customer has also allowed businesses to be relevant in the industry and this will continue to be a way forward for business leaders. According to a recent study by NASSCOM, three-fourths of business-to-business start-ups are developing new products and trying new verticals.
Digital adoption will not be optional anymore
Businesses that have taken the first mover’s advantage by tapping into the digital demand and altering their flow of service to suit the customer, are doing better than their peers. According to a report by Forbes, people are already spending more time online than ever before, and internet usage has surged by 50-70%. India will witness further cycles of rapid technology adoption and onboarding of businesses on e-commerce platforms, with a focus on the direct-to-consumer approach to selling online. The adoption of digitalization will be the key to transforming small businesses to be more competitive and resilient in the future.
Leveraging the tech juggernaut for personalised experiences
The onset of ‘contactless function’ has opened the doors for the adoption and mainstreaming of new technologies. This has allowed the businesses to stay afloat and will fuel the growth for multiple industries, provided they embrace technology. Emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality will help businesses comprehend the new trends and elevate consumer engagement, by leveraging data. This will not only help them to attract and inspire but also retain customers in the long run.
Sustainability is the only way forward
Apart from the obvious, 2020 also demonstrated to us how much harm were we causing to our environment. Global lockdowns helped in the replenishment of nature, leaving us with many beautiful, nostalgic sights and one stark realisation. Businesses took the cue and actively focused on overhauling their processes, functions and strategies. Global giants shunned business verticals that they saw were not in line with a sustainable vision. Sustainability in 2021 will be one of the important pillars of long-term as well as short term policies for organisations. This will not only align the businesses with the future, but also help them position themselves as entities that care, strengthening their brand preference for years to come.
In the words of Peter Drucker, the Austrian management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” In the VUCA world, as long as businesses are willing to change and adapt, they will stay relevant for their consumers. Agility is not just the need for this year, but a foundation for the future from hereon.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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