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Covid-19 trends likely to stick (Bangkok Post)

The business world won't be the same after the Covid-19 pandemic is over, with technology in the limelight.

From social distancing measures to tech tools used to flatten the curve, the Covid-19 crisis has disrupted the strategic decision-making framework for organisations, with rebuilding necessary for business survival.

Although no one knows when the pandemic will end, it's certain that the way businesses operate and the way we travel will not be the same.

Digital transformation

The coronavirus outbreak has prompted people to practice social distancing and work from home, which is a boon for online food orders, teleconferencing, telemedicine and e-learning.

These trends could become entrenched as people become more familiar with them.

Outbreak-driven digital transformation is likely to be adopted by businesses and workers, said Pun-Arj Chairatana, executive director of the National Innovation Agency (NIA). He said the Covid-19 crisis is triggering significant change among individuals and business operators who may have been reluctant to embrace digital technology, nudging them the opposite direction.

The crisis has habituated people to online food ordering, shopping and entertainment, as well as virtual classrooms, digital wallets and e-meetings, Mr Pun-Arj said.

According to networking and technology giant Cisco Systems, Thailand's online meetings via Cisco's WebEx system reached 239,896 in March, up 766% from February, the biggest jump in Asean, as people in Thailand engaged more in e-meetings as employees worked from home.

The number of participants in WebEx video conferencing surged 3,013% to over 1 million people from February to March.

Vatsun Thirapatarapong, managing director of Cisco Systems Thailand and Indochina, said the recent roll-out of the royal decree to ensure the legality of e-meetings will hike demand for video conferencing among the public sector and SET-listed companies.

With the legislation, there is no longer a requirement that a legal e-meeting have at least one-third of participants at the same place for a quorum.

Anantaporn Lapsakkarn, senior researcher at Kasikorn Research Center (K-Research), said online food delivery through apps this year is projected to grow 17% from 33-35 billion baht in 2019, whipped up by the outbreak as restaurants were forced to close.

He is uncertain whether online food delivery service via apps will continue at such a rapid pace after the lockdown because the service is still more costly than eating out.

"Restaurants are expanding online and handling their own deliveries without relying on apps and super apps, instead of spending more time on working with new food merchants to collaborate on delivery," Mr Anantaporn said.

Telemedicine is also gathering pace among Thais.

Panote Prapansilp, co-founder of See Doctor Now, a telemedicine app, said that since February hospitals have become more interested in integrating teleconsulting into their services to ease traffic at hospitals. Telemedicine bills could soon be covered by state welfare and private insurance, he said.

Mr Panote said the Covid-19 crisis could change the mindset of patients and health service providers if they attach more importance to telemedicine.

Patients may choose to go to hospitals only when they need physical treatments by doctors, such as stomach pain or ailments requiring surgery, he said.

Somwalee Limrachtamorn, managing director of Nielsen Thailand, a media and consumer research firm, said the outbreak will accelerate online-and-offline integration in the retail sector.

Social media will become the mainstream communication channel, with brands creating customer engagement through their social media to increase sales, she said.

"Brands and businesses need to be prepared for this trend and make ad content more creative," Ms Somwalee said.

Delivery drivers from various companies await orders at a Central mall. Food delivery has become the norm during the outbreak.
Photo: Bangkok Post

Efficient productivity

As market forces and customer behaviour change during the pandemic, Kasikornbank (KBank), the country's largest lender by assets and biggest mobile banking service provider, plans to redefine its business plan by accelerating its digital push.

"Customers previously visited branches to either make financial transactions such as advisory and mutual fund purchases or meet other people," said chief executive Kattiya Indaravijaya. "We now must develop other channels that still enable them to stay in touch, but in a way that aligns with social distancing. We must be able to facilitate them, allowing customers to open accounts faster and further shift towards digital to match their lifestyle."

The bank set a 6P strategy, comprising product, price, place, promotion, productivity and people.

To read the rest of the article, please use this link: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1908130/covid-19-trends-likely-to-stick


By Bangkok Post | April 27th, 2020

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