Innovation Is the Key To Survival In the #NewNormal

The COVID-19 disaster saw a seismic shift from conventional ways of doing business to a digital-driven economy, opening newer arenas for market forces

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By Digvijay Singh


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Crises are like washing machines, they toss and turn everything in one go. This is precisely what the world has been experiencing since the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic. The health disaster led to an economic fallout which resulted in the IMF declaring a recession as bad as, or worse, than in 2009.

Against this backdrop, conglomerates faced massive challenges to sustain, survive and adapt to the new world order. Many among them paused operations or invoked their business continuity plans. But those who managed to stay afloat, despite the sectoral doldrums, created a niche for themselves, by switching to digital-based models. They not only sustained but are now flourishing as operations and logistics ease around the world.

"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward," said Martin Luther King Jr., and is very today.

As so rightly mentioned by Martin Luther King Jr., the business ecosystem was quick to realize that only those organizations will thrive who can keep pace with the dynamics of the changing world to ensure business continuity. This is true not only in terms of technological advancements but also how these innovations can disrupt the existing market by creating better value systems.

The COVID-19 disaster saw a seismic shift from conventional ways of doing business to a digital-driven economy, opening newer arenas for market forces. For any organization to survive and prosper in such an environment, innovation became imperative.

The pandemic tale

All major revolutionary waves in human history, be it agricultural, industrial, or information technology has bolstered innovation. The pandemic is a new wave of change. It predominantly made us question our own limitations and the future of business that goes above and beyond the physical market space. It also paved the way for innovation, which is no longer a luxury but a necessity.

When the pandemic hit, it brutally exposed the fractures that existed in our healthcare system. It not only lacked infrastructural facilities but was also inadequate to serve its whopping population of 1.3 billion people.

Responding quickly to the pandemic, several Indian startups rose to the challenge to meet the medical needs in the country. With the help of AI and data science, Indian startups developed diagnostic solutions, patient tracking apps, drones for sanitation, etc. in no time. In May, 600 firms were producing 450,000 PPE kits per day. Thus, India became the world's second-largest manufacturer of PPE kits. These examples show large scale preparedness and innovation that the business ecosystem was capable of doing, despite the bottlenecks.

However, the pandemic also amplified our day-to-day technological touchdowns, as online purchases became the most obvious form of shopping while people were confined to their homes. E-commerce players adapted to the changing times in providing contact-less delivery of products at the doorstep of the customers. Thus, a line of businesses moved their physical stores to online platforms.

The crisis acted as a catalyst for several other sectors such as IT, edtech, fintech, biotech, telehealth and pharma, etc., who turned the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity.

Adapting to the new normal

Innovation, in any sector or platform should not only be seen as a disruptive market force. Instead, innovation benefits societies which has far-reaching impact. For businesses, agility and flexibility are increasingly important for survival and differentiation in the new normal.

Those businesses focusing on technologies such as big data, cloud computing and IoT will be positioned in a better spot to lead much-needed global, economic and societal change.

With the rise in competition, a confluence of adaptive thinking, cross-cultural competency, computational thinking, design mindset and virtual collaboration is needed to survive in the new age of work.

In today's competitive business ecosystem, to stay ahead in the game, companies that continuously make investments in upskilling the team will be at the receiving end of success by being better equipped to face challenges. At this point, the future might seem uncertain but making efforts in the right direction will help lay a strong foundation for the business ecosystem.

Digvijay Singh

COO of Indian Angel Network

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