There may hardly be a few terms in recallable human history that became household names with dubious distinctions. Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 is one for the contemporary world. While the name and fear of it spread worldwide arguably faster than the virus itself, the world nations’ locking down one after the other – some proactively and some reactively though – for nearly 10 weeks meant a lot to the world, and to the ProAV domain as well.
SIAsia decided to speak to some of the industry leaders how they have lived through the period, and led their business continuity.
As the first in the series, we bring you the ‘business’ at Delta Displays as we hear from Hemant Agarwal, Business Head at Delta Electronics (Display Division) India.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
The pandemic as they call it has impacted the whole world on a scale that we haven’t seen in recent history. When the whole world is affected, we cannot say we aren’t. It did affect us but not to the extent that it would rub our bottomline. It’s been minimal for us.
There has been a disruption in business activities; people could not travel to work places and client sites; manufacturing got affected too. Particularly, our activities panning out from Delhi, and Delhi being the eye of storm (for all sorts of reasons) it did cause us some disruptions but we stood strong and are putting efforts to tide over the crisis effectively.
Keeping the impact minimal is interesting. Would you please elaborate how were you able to achieve it?
There are few factors of course. One- the foresight and guidance from our global headquarters in Taiwan; two- Thailand, our Asiatic regional headquarters being much less affected and open to business; three- some very clever planning from our side, and, of course our being lucky to have some big good customers who supported our billing during the time.
Now, as you know, Delta is a Taiwanese company with global headquarters by default in Taiwan. Also, if you recall when the SARS endemic broke out in China 18 years ago, Taiwan being right on border had a natural extension of the endemic and bore the brunt of it. Passing through endemic the hardest way, they learnt their lessons from it.
Noticeably, when the Novel coronavirus began shaking Wuhan in China, Taiwan quickly recalled what they learnt from previous experience; they knew what they needed to do. They implemented both preventive and curative plans on a rapid action mode even before the rest of the world even had a hint of lurking pandemic.
As you can see today, Taiwan is one of the very few countries that have not only successfully warded off the disaster but also quickly brought back the normalcy in public life and business. The reason for the success was their learning from previous experience with SARS endemic as well as the foresight about the dos and don’ts. Delta stood to benefit from that knowledge and guided the company businesses worldwide.
“That gave us a sense of preparedness, and we initiated some critical measures with some clever planning even before the lock-down began in the country. We addressed what our clients wanted on a priority basis. That ensured our billing cycles in time, and we received our payments in both April and May that helped us plan still better for the crisis period.”
We have also been fortunate on two more counts. We had some good customers who were very supportive – getting special permissions whenever required – and ensuring our shipments and some personnel cross the hurdles of preventive regulations. So, we were able to do a few shipments and there was some business.
The other important point was that Thailand which is our Asiatic headquarter remained largely unaffected, and therefore, our operations relating to that market continued.
Cumulatively, all these factors contributed to our staying strong till now. We hope will continue to do it.
How about the revenue loss/flow factor?
Like I said earlier, there has been an impact on business and revenues. But let me tell you it hasn’t been what it appears like for most others. Our preparedness and planning for the situation has helped us a lot in keeping the revenue loss to minimal.
How about the employee connect/confidence quotient?
For the first part, i.e. the connect with the employees, it’s been more or less the same, standard practice what most others have been doing- encourage work from home concept, and regular interaction online both for internal matters as well as product trainings or technical sessions through tools like zoom, skype and Microsoft Teams whatever possible or compatible with the employees’ location towards upgrading their skillsets and competence.
For the second part, i.e. the confidence part, we talk to them about how well we have been approaching the crisis, and explain to them about safety measures and better days ahead for life and business.
The biggest boosting factor has been that despite the financial challenges, we have been able to manage some business processes – of course with support from our trusted customers – and thereby our billing too. So revenue loss has been minimal, and no jobs lost and salaries cut.
We hope we will continue the journey till we reach the normalcy.
How about the notion of increased use of work-from-home format resulting in a specific change in the thinking of AV users – tending to reduce their spending on ‘large’ infrastructure…
We think that’s the way for the industry to go in the future. Given the way the world is journeying through time with challenges of environment, travel, time, and money, the increased use of work-from-home would bring multiple benefits all we spoke. It will save all that, and much more. Time and money saving, and better productivity for the companies; personal safety and work efficiency for the employees; faster and effective communication between companies and employees, besides contributing to better environment for the whole future generations.
Delta’s forte of SmartCity Surveillance would have been helped better monitoring of COVID movements?
Smart City mission is a government programme, and we all understand the constraints due to the current crisis. However, we did expect we will get some requests for building COVID-19 control rooms; it would have certainly helped handle the situation in various cities better. But we also understand there are certain constraints in going for those builds. However, considering the critical nature of the builds and their usage, there will be a demand for such builds in the coming weeks, and we sincerely hope we will have a role to play.
In fact, that may actually open up a new industry dynamic altogether, and new avenue for Delta during and post-lockdown, to build a better equipped tomorrow.
We do intend to take up this vision forward to more cities across the country. That the Smart City programme involves many other allied industries segments like cameras, switches etc. we hope better times for the industry.
What roadmap ahead to capture new opportunities post-lockdown
We have already formulated our strategies on how we will need to map the market requirement. We will soon be ready with full action plan, and will roll out as and when the market opens up. Our idea is to make sure that our products should reach every potential market place.
We do manufacture certain critical components that go into building ventilators and mask making machinery both of which are the need of the hour currently. This particular competence, we hope will contribute to our better standing through the crisis period and beyond.