Japanese automotive paints company Nippon Paint’s Indian wing plans to close its sales office in Mumbai. The Gurgaon-headquartered company, with clients like Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors, has been so astonished with how well ‘work from home’ has worked that it is thinking of asking staff to continue the same, even post Covid.
Another multinational, Nestle India has launched virtual engagement programmes, training programmes, mental health initiatives, free advisory calls with accredited doctors, and even check-in programmes for young employees who live alone or far from home.
While these programmes have been implemented during the lockdown, the company might keep it running even later.
The Indian economy has been hit hard by the Covid pandemic, since it was already grappling with a slowdown. While the future posts a grim picture , there is a silver lining.
The big winner, as the whole nation practices social distancing, is digitization.
Greater receptivity to work from home
While the ‘work from home’ concept has often been promoted by many Silicon Valley tech giants, it had yet to catch on in India as a regular feature.
The option to work remotely was largely being offered to gig workers, and not to full-time staff, but India Inc has had to change course overnight after the Covid-19 outbreak.
According to Gartner, the vast remote work experiment is also ‘a great opportunity to prepare for the future’. According to its recent research, by 2030, the demand for remote work will increase by 30 percent once the Generation-Z fully enters the workforce.
Workplace collaborative tech tools such as Slack, Flock, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom will become vital to keep track of productivity.
Increased investments on collaboration tools
Zoom has already experienced a 50% increase in its share price since the start of the year.
According to Gurugram-headquartered tech company Bobble AI, video conferencing apps Hangouts, Google Duo, Houseparty and Zoom have reportedly seen a rise of 71% when it comes to average time spent. They have also witnessed around 104% increase in the active user count, as per the report.
The Edtech engine
As COVID-19 spread, schools and universities across the world began to look towards virtual learning options. Many universities and schools decided to switch the remaining ongoing session to online learning , as campuses closed to contain the spread of the virus.
According to a study by KPMG and Google, the online education market in India is set to grow to USD 1.96 billion, with 9.6 million users by 2021.
In last one month, Google Classroom downloads zoomed past 50 million, and the app climbed to the top of the ‘education’ category on Android and iOS. Prior to that, it hadn’t featured even in the top 100 educational apps, according to AppBrain.
E-learning services including Udemy, Unacademy and Byjus achieved around 82.73% increase in time spent, 122.62% increase in engagement and 25.12% increase in daily active users.
Spike in gaming and OTT
This segment is witnessing a surge in usage considering most individuals are restricted to their homes. OTT platforms are helping users stay entertained with engaging content and allowing users to binge on shows from their long drawn watchlist.
According to a KPMG report, “Digital consumption will see rapid incremental growth with India”s ”digital billion” trajectory likely to accelerate materially”. The report said that users spend around 12 percent more time on online streaming platforms during the lockdown period than before.
Last week, India saw the entry of global entertainment giant Disney, as it launched its service in India through Hotstar. Within days of its launch, Disney+Hotstar garnered approximately 80 lakh paid subscribers in India.
The report also suggests a massive jump in online gaming, with an increase of 15 per cent in the number of users per week and 44 per cent in the time spent by each of them.
Big boost for e-commerce
Currently, there is a 100% increase in Google searches for BigBasket and Grofers, providers of essentials.
Grofers recently reported a rise of 45% in the number of orders and 18% in order value. BigBasket also witnessed 2X growth in orders. According to a spokesperson, baskets have also become larger by 15-20%.
According to a report by WPP most new users will continue to stay online even post covid, as there would still be fear in consumer’s minds about going to physical stores. Adoption will also grow from the 45+ age group, as they have the most fear of a fatal infection.
Hope for Healthtech
India’s largest online pharmacy, Medlife has seen a 3X increase in its orders thanks to coronavirus. Practo too saw an increase in consultations by 3X to 4X in the last three weeks.
Experts believe that the pandemic will bring about a massive shift in consumer mindset.
ML, AL and IOT driven remote care products and telemedicine solutions will help the healthcare industry to cope with vast imbalances in healthcare distribution.
While there may be a short term impact to the Fintech industry given the reduced number of transactions taking place, it is helping people engage in contactless transactions.
According to data collated from start-up research and intelligence platform Traxcn and IBS Intelligence, funding into the Indian FinTech start-ups has increased by 40% at USD 807 million for the first three months of 2020, as compared to USD 570 million for the same period last year.
Fintech startups are also innovating to maintain their relevance, even after the pandemic. Bengaluru-based Instamojo has come up with an initiative for essential businesses, such as pharmacies, called Priority KYC, which will allow them to go online with their products in five minutes.
Several start-ups have also started offering insurance coverage against Covid-19. Digital payments and financial services platform Paytm has rolled out a Covid-19 insurance policy in collaboration with Reliance General Insurance with a cover ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 lakh.
Ashish says while digitalisation should see a great boost in the metropolitan areas of India once we overcome this crisis, one cannot expect the same for the rural areas because of the lack of infrastructure there.
“In fact, the current crisis sheds light even more on this digital disparity amongst metros and non-metros. It is a good time for the government and organisations to change that or at least start thinking on how to change it. It is a good opportunity to speed our transition to digital societies. But to believe that any certain medium will stay absolutely unaffected by this apocalyptic predicament would be very unwise.”
Towards greater digitization
Necessity is the mother of invention, and Covid-19 has forced India Inc to rethink daily lives from work to education to entertainment.
To conclude, Ashish says, “The COVID-19 outbreak has definitely led the world to one key revelation and that is digital is survival. “
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