Outlook 2021: The Key Focus Would be on Investing in Tech

Niranjan Gidwani, Independent Consultant Director and Former CEO of Eros Group speaks about 2021 opportunities

How was 2020 for the industry and your company/industry?
Overall, 2020 has been a tough year for the industry. From the lockdown to disruptions in the supply chain, to rising unemployment levels, to demand as well as supply shocks, handling of covid cases within organisations, transitioning to work from home – the year has experienced every possible challenge one could think of.

What sort of opportunities did 2020 bring along?
The pandemic brought a rapid transitioning to online and ecommerce, and embracing of technology. It has almost been a four to five year fast forward in just 6-9 months. It has also brought to light the fact that work from home has not really reduced productivity, and that the time has come to rationalise effective use of office space. Perhaps the biggest opportunity has been the fact that, despite all odds, humans are extremely resilient, and given a little time, will find ways to tackle any issues.

Did you face any challenges in 2020?
We also faced all of the above challenges, including a sizable drop in sales, a short period of high inventories, and receivables that were slow to come in.

What were your key achievements in 2020?
The most significant achievements in the year have been that the industry as a whole has managed to stabilise and turn course slowly but surely, with all the assistance and positivity being provided and created by the Ruler and the relevant authorities. Another significant achievement has been that, across the industry, various elements of cost have been and are being successfully relooked at, without compromising in any significant manner the service levels or the morale.

What promises does 2021 bring along?
Some of the biggest promises that 2021 brings, once the vaccine is out, are the opening up of the travel and tourism sector, opening up of major events, the expo coming up, and the recently signed up accord with countries in the region, besides improved ties with large partners like India and China.

Do you see opportunities in the regional markets with new markets opening up?
There will be huge opportunities in the regional markets, both in supply chain and distribution, plus startups, opening up of newer establishments and offices, travel, and trade.

According to you, which technologies will be in demand in 2021?
The technologies which are likely to be the key to growth and success will be essential in the area of big data, artificial intelligence, better and improved technology driven supply chain and logistics, and a consolidation of the growth experienced in online and ecommerce. Significant improvements and upgrades in the construction sector, health and wellness sector, 3D printing technologies will all add to fuel growth

What will be your key focus areas for 2021?
Since I am assisting a few setups, the key focus would be on investing in technology, technology-driven processes, and products.

What milestones have you set for 2021?
The most significant milestone would be to be on the lookout for like-minded alliances while keeping teams extremely positive and motivated. Keep rationalising costs, and increase the portion of online sales.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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