Yes, Covid-19 is going to put a lot of companies out of business. We are already experiencing the impact as many companies have already gone bankrupt or are going to file for bankruptcy soon.
But didn't disruptive technologies and innovations have the same type of impact all the way till now? What did the Internet do when it first came? What did Google do? What about Netflix's way of obliterating the business of video stores? How about Uber putting private taxi owners running for their livelihood?
When Starbucks came into local territories, many people thought that it would put local coffee shops out of business. The reality is, it consumed only those coffee shops who couldn't (or didn't) adapt. Many local coffee shops in New York are still doing fantastic business alongside Starbucks just because they adapted their way of business with Starbucks. They improved their environment, brought new and clean furniture to sit and talk, reduced their customer serving lead time and so on. They changed. They adapted. They stayed in the business. Those who didn't adapt could only complain about Starbucks. Nothing else.
The fact is, organisations who are willing to change and adapt will always have a big chance to face and survive the disruptions, irrespective of whether it's caused by some unorthodox tech savvy companies or a pandemic.
Smart organisations pivot their businesses in situations like this and many of them are willing to change their products, features, manufacturing processes, workers' skills etc. to ensure they sustain the turnover during these difficult times.
The strangest pivoting story I heard last week was of a pizza shop in Chicago. In Pre-Covid-19 era, 70 percent of their sales used to come from selling slices. Well, that's gone. So they tried to figure out how they can keep the business moving without firing or laying off any of their employees. So they checked their assets and found that they have pizza ovens. They immediately formed a plan. They started buying industrial grade plastics from plastic suppliers and their ovens were hot enough to turn those plastics into face shields that they could sell to the hospitals during this Covid-19 phase. This is how they kept their business running and helped their employees keep their jobs in this difficult time. This is pure genius. Imagine, two years later, they can still be selling pizza or they can have two businesses to run!
Five or ten years later, those of us who will be alive, will be listening to many interesting stories of organisations who have taken desperate measures in desperate times and won the battle of adaptability.
Md Rezaul Akhlak is supply chain leader, Decathlon Sports Bangladesh.