Q: What are your expectations for the next 12 months or so in terms of the business climate?
A: Year 2021 is about transition. While the situation still looks grim, the global vaccine roll out will result in more stability towards the latter half of the year as consumers begin to rebound.

COVID-19 has also created new opportunities. Entities that were quick to step into these niches are now reaping the fruits of their labour. These sectors include education, online banking and financial services, healthcare and medical services, agriculture, delivery, food processing and so on.

A recent article by McKinsey – entitled ‘The next normal arrives: Trends that will define 2021 –and beyond’ – notes that the pandemic has sparked innovation and launched a generation of entrepreneurs.

France witnessed 84,000 new business formations in October – the highest ever recorded – while there were over 1.5 million new business applications in the US in the third quarter of 2020 alone.

Rapid waves of digitisation have also buoyed the ICT industry both locally and globally. Digitally enabled productivity gains have accelerated the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Q: How is your company planning for financial year 2021/22 given the ‘new normal’ era?
A: 99x’s long-term strategies and sound preparation in terms of disaster mitigation saw us weather the COVID-19 storm comparatively well last year. Our plans will follow a similar vein.

People will be our top priority – i.e. ensuring that no job is lost and they’re financially supported while we continue to be their partner for life. We were able to continue ‘business as usual’ as all stakeholders have adjusted extremely well to working from home (WFH).

Businesses can suffer more from complacency than COVID-19. Therefore, we continue to explore new markets and opportunities. We’ve launched several new digital services while embracing digital in more innovative ways than before.

Q: Could you briefly outline the major challenges facing corporates at this time?
A: Uncertainty about the future is one of the main challenges. The discovery of a vaccine brought with it much hope. However, its slow global roll out and with this, the third wave and new variants being discovered, the uncertainty continues to intensify.

With the pandemic cutting off many traditional revenue streams virtually overnight, businesses are yet to fill the void. This requires re-visualising revenue generation models.

While there has been rapid digitalisation, companies continue to struggle. Corporates need to redouble their digital transformation efforts through increased automation, business model conversion, and workforce re-skilling and ecosystem development to truly reap the benefits of digital in the current environment.