COVID-19 has engendered unprecedented disruptions across sectors. From suspending flights and trains to restricting the movement of people and vehicles, it has had a large-scale impact on the Indian economy. However, some sectors are also considering this hour of crisis as an opportunity to innovate their existing business models and create solutions.
For these players, the contagion certainly provides a fertile ground for bleeding-edge innovations that will become the norm in a post-COVID-19 world. Here’s looking at the five sectors most likely to benefit from the current situation.
With institutes closed and regular classes on hold during the lockdown period, online learning has emerged as the most viable tool for educators looking to ensure that the pandemic’s impact on their learners’ academic progress is minimised.
Multiple platforms are offering high discounts on various courses and many classes are even being conducted for free. As a result, virtual classes and online learning have suddenly become the norm instead of novelty, even as conventional models are reshaped to make learning more personalised, engaging, and interactive.
Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, a study forecasted the Indian online education market to grow to $18 billion by the year 2022. The pandemic has only served to accelerate this growth by making it essential for educators and learners to adopt more efficient digital processes and tools. “Survive and thrive” is the new mantra for players in the Indian education sector. As the economy normalises, the disruptions and innovations coming to the fore during this phase will become key industry growth drivers in the future.
While most Indian households still rely on their neighbourhood stores for grocery, many staunch advocates of the mom-and-pop model have lately been switching to online retail platforms like Grofers, Milkbasket and BigBasket. The reason? To ensure compliance with social distancing. And players in the space are capitalising on this trend to establish themselves as an integral part of the daily grocery fulfilment value chain. Huge discounts are currently being offered on various items while, to ensure that the needs of all are fulfilled, unit caps have been imposed on the purchase of essential goods.
Given the rise in demands, most players are witnessing a 20 percent to 80 percent surge in their order volumes despite challenges like order delays and cancellations. In a way, the lockdown is gradually changing the mindsets of consumers and encouraging them to switch to online grocery shopping. This indicates that online grocery will be a sunrise sector in the long term, even after the COVID-19 chapter comes to a close.
The Indian banking industry witnessed unprecedented growth since the 2008 financial crisis up until about a couple of months before the COVID-19 outbreak. A looming slowdown has now been exacerbated as the entire economy comes to a screeching halt.
The crisis, however, is also providing the BFSI space with an unparalleled opportunity to bring about a fundamental change in the way that it functions. India is a cash-driven economy that, despite large-scale measures such as demonetisation, has not been outgrowing its dependence on cash. This seems to be changing, as the viral nature of the novel coronavirus has made Indians circumspect of cash.
The time is perfect for players in the BFSI space to reinvent themselves and test newer business models that are more digitally-driven. By leveraging advanced technologies and digitising their existing set of offerings, they can supplant legacy processes with newer, more optimised workflows, and address inefficiencies that have plagued the Indian BFSI space since time immemorial.
We might see an uptick in digital banking due to coronavirus, says Dilipkumar Khandelwal of Deutsche Bank
Doing so will pave the way for a stronger, more future-ready business ecosystem that is built on the strong foundation of a tech-driven BFSI framework.
As people adopt better personal hygiene practices in the post-COVID-19 world, the consumption of nutrition and wellness products is expected to see a rise. At present, products like disinfectants and sanitisers are recording the highest sales – a trend that seems likely to continue and become deeply ingrained in consumer behaviour. Fitness products like fitness tracking gadgets and apps are also seeing a surge in demand.
This shift in mindset towards healthier living opens the door for collaborations between fitness product manufacturers and healthcare providers, creating a positive impact on the country’s GDP in the coming years. Moreover, as people turn to the online medium, provisions like online medicine delivery and teleconsulting – which is already seeing stellar growth owing to the lockdown – will rise even further in the future.
We might also see more healthcare-oriented investment from private and public sectors as the country enhances its healthcare infrastructure in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. This will have a two-fold impact on the Indian economy. Firstly, essential healthcare services will become more accessible, available and affordable for the mass consumer. Secondly, and just as importantly, the number of employment opportunities will explode.
In a country that has been facing some challenges with the high level of unemployment of late, this will be a major shot in the arm.
India’s $180-billion IT sector has a heavy dependence on business from the US and Europe – making its fortunes integrally linked with the performance of these international markets. As top clients from these regions reduce their IT spending in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Indian IT companies should leverage their core value proposition and restructure their existing offerings at competitive price points.
This will help players to survive in the short term – while preparing them to capitalise on the digital opportunity that will come knocking at their doors once the world goes digital. Developing the core IT infrastructure and new-age capabilities, therefore, will become a priority for IT companies as they navigate the current choppy waters with speed, skill, and agility.
The growth isn’t limited to just these sectors and will surely extend itself into many avenues of the Indian economy. As the economy slowly starts juggling back to normalcy after lockdown lifts, it would be interesting to see how these transformations play out for the existing infrastructure and larger community.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)
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