The Post-COVID World: A Marketer's Guide Smart marketers need to identify the sectors and approaches that are ideally positioned for growth and success in the post COVID environment

By Rikki Aggarwal

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Till as early as February, most companies were busy planning their long-term business strategies, setting ambitious growth targets, and launching new products. However, an unforeseen force majeure event has brought all those ambitious plans and targets to naught. The sudden turn of events unleashed by a global disease outbreak has forced organizations to hit a pause and reset button. While uncertainty prevails over what the future would entail, what is clear is that it would be starkly different from the world we have known. Until a vaccine is made available to counter the virus, the requirements of social distancing and the need for restricted movement will have to remain in place, even if blanket lockdowns are removed.

Shift in mindset

  • These tectonic changes have forced a major churning in organizations across industries. The need to stay relevant in the changing times is propelling a major transformation.
  • Companies are preparing for the new normal by challenging and changing their core organizational behavior, their hierarchies, and their offerings.
  • Come to think of it, organizations that were extremely wary of allowing work from home to their employees have suddenly devised functional strategies to make remote working and remote client servicing a reality.
  • Companies that were conventionally slow in adopting automation are not vying for co-opting the latest available technologies.

Shifting business models

  • With most economic activity on hold, many companies have suddenly found their products and services starting at a near-zero demand. With their offerings rendered irrelevant, many startups and established companies have been forced to quickly reconfigure their product offerings and transform their business models.
  • Given the fact that the current demand comprises of only essential items and coronavirus related equipment, many organizations have shifted to manufacturing PPEs, masks, sanitizers and essential grocery items.
  • To cite just one example, Wow! Momo Foods, an organization that runs two quick service restaurant brands has quickly announced the launch of its grocery service "Wow! Momo Essential Services'. Such business decisions are being made everywhere to stay relevant during the time and keep earning revenues.
  • Adaptability remains the key to survival and organizations that display quick adaptability are the ones that will succeed in staying afloat over the long term.

Technological automation and robotics come to the fore

  • As organizations look to increase efficiency, improve outcomes and optimize costs, they are proactively considering increased adoption of technological automation and robotics. Increased automation helps organizations tide over the shortage of skilled labour while helping decrease manufacturing costs and keep up the cost advantage.
  • According to a market research, the global traditional industrial robotics market size is expected to grow from $44.6 billion in 2020 to $73 billion by 2025. Greater use of automation also allows manufacturers to maintain the norms of social distancing for their workers, paving the way for safer and unhindered production.
  • Going forward, we will witness an increase in the adoption of artificial intelligence and cloud-based solutions not only in large organizations but also in small- and medium-scale enterprises. Increasingly SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS solutions would be used to improve customer relationship management and enterprise resource management, among other functions.

Remote working to be the "new normal'

  • The pandemic has also revolutionized the way we work as it ushers in a series of behavioral shifts. IT giant Tata Consultancy Services has announced that it is working on a plan to allow as much as 75 percent of its workforce to work from home by 2025. This implies that the organization will need just 25 percent of its workforce to work from the office.
  • With the pandemic normalizing work from home, we are likely to witness a greater acceptance of this practice going forward. Organizations will also realize that this arrangement saves costs by reducing the need for office space and other office infrastructure. This will also help reduce the drop-out rate of women from the workforce.
  • Remote working is further expanding the scope of remote access to everything and greater security against cybercrimes.
  • Increasingly office-less organizations will become common as businesses starting up over the next year will find such a working model viable. A lot of other daily functions have also turned virtual during this pandemic. Be it customer relationship management, client pitching or meetings, we have realized that remote working can be as effective as the conventional mode which was practiced pre-COVID. It can even be more effective as it increases employee productivity by eliminating the time and hassle of traveling to work daily.

Flattening hierarchies

  • A non-conventional work setting where a bulk of the workforce is operating from home and is connected remotely will give way to a more democratic work culture than the traditional style of reporting to a manager.
  • As employees take collective responsibility for managing the crisis, the need for micromanagement has evaporated and the managers are increasingly assuming the role of coordinators and partners. This flattening of hierarchies is another cultural shift that is likely to stay even when the pandemic ebbs.

Within the catastrophe perhaps lies an opportunity and businesses need to rise to this challenge and build and adopt new ways of working to sustain in the post-COVID world.

Rikki Aggarwal

Co-Founder, Chief Business & Operating Officer of Blink Digital

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