Yap Leng Kuen Series | With Renzo Viegas | Big Changes Ahead.

Coronacrisis spurs big changes ahead.

‘The world has been turned upside down’ is the immediate reaction of many, as we grapple with the implications of this catastrophe.

Suddenly, a new world order has emerged, where working from home is the new normal, and technology becomes a key driver in our everyday lives.

Values will change, with the award winners of yesterday giving way to those who have dedicated themselves to keeping us safe and alive during these lockdowns.

Those in healthcare, delivery, groceries, restaurants, banks, the army and police force, teachers giving classes online, among others, should instead be walking down the red carpet.

The social impact of this MCO is tremendous. “It has forced people to reflect on survival, with social responsibilities for the good of the entire community,’’ said Renzo Viegas, former deputy CEO, CIMB Group.

We are hit by the many lessons gleaned from this pandemic which first of all, requires strong co-operation among countries to tackle the collapse in health, economic and social systems.

“Educational Institutions and businesses need to do more to inculcate civic and social responsibility values, build a culture of transparency and better problem solving, communication, leadership and team skills,’’ said Viegas.

No more working in silos, people now have to learn to share and solve problems together.

Isolationist attitudes should be discarded; the fight against this virus has shown us how countries help each other in providing medical aid and supplies, as well as co-ordinate on the economic battles.

Building better skills in problem solving and early identification has also become a challenge; a recent example reveals the danger of not identifying problems early.

In the last minute scramble for medical supplies, some countries block exports to some others which in turn, threaten retaliation. That doesn’t bode well for global co-operation.

Transparency in fighting a crisis of this sort has become a global issue. When the epidemic first surfaced, reports of countries not being forthcoming about it or downplaying its potential impact, have led to criticisms of their lack of transparency, and the danger of misleading the masses.

This catastrophe has made us realise what our priorities should be; the race for materialism pales in the face of survival issues brought about by this killer virus.

“The crisis has allowed us to appreciate nature better, and reflect on the basic needs of mankind – food, shelter and clothing. It has also taught us to be more compassionate and considerate to those less fortunate,’’ said Viegas.

Vast amounts of government loans and cash handouts are being poured in to save jobs and small businesses; some companies, despite being in a tight situation, manage to squeeze out some donations.

Technology, which is allowing people to stay at home and conduct their everyday business, will play a bigger role in the future.

Online payments, e-commerce, e-learning, video conferencing and remote software maintenance are areas that will see a big boost.

Working and conducting meetings from home, initially as a precautionary measure, will become a growing trend among white collar professionals.

Today’s communication, socialisation and co-ordination can all take place while working separately through enhanced tools such as Google docs.

There are also tools like Microsoft teams and Cisco Webex for video conferencing.

“We will see the massive expansion of broadband & 5G technology for more robust connectivity,’’ said Viegas.

This rapid outbreak has taken many by surprise. From now on, business contingency planning will be very important, for physical locations as well as for database, cloud back-ups and security at the end point, that is, the personal computer at home.

The whole supply chain that has been so severely disrupted, will also require thorough review on concentration risks, dependencies and redundancies.

In manufacturing and services, there will be more deployment of robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning interactions or internet of things solutions.

“A variety of applications will mushroom, driving productivity with powerful AI to ensure applicability, not just to assembly line production but also to accommodate many variations,’’ said Viegas.

We may not have a definitive final solution to this crisis, but collectively, we can cushion the negative, economic and social impact of this unprecedented event.

And while we focus on survival issues amidst the ‘free fall’of jobs and economies, we should start preparing for the boom in technology.  

“Thus, changing gears to accelerate IR 4.0 or indeed, bring on IR 5.0 is imperative,’’ said Viegas.

Change is always difficult as familiar routines are easier to handle.

ATMs were not popular when they were first introduced, as people did not trust machines, but as time went on, people started withdrawing smaller amounts and many more times a month. 

In China and South East Asia, internet banking, online payments and non-cash or cheque payments by plastics, mobile phones or with QR codes, are multiplying rapidly.

In India, online payments became popular following demonetisation, where notes of larger denominations were made invalid overnight.

Given time, people adapt to changes and improve further on their innovations.


Author.

Yap Leng Kuen had a respected career as a senior business editor and widely read columnist speaking plainly, for the leading local newspaper. She continues to write for The Star Online.

I am delighted to share her view points and insights, here.

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