SA companies reinvent themselves to survive virus outbreak_1

South African business is already being hammered by a downturn caused by lack of customers through self-isolation … but a number are already turning around their products, delivery systems and customer approach to stay alive. And, say business experts and economists, the dark cloud of coronavirus may have a silver lining for those companies prepared and agile enough to radically change their business models. Dr Lize Barclay, senior lecturer in futures studies and systems thinking at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, said the Covid-19 pandemic offered “an opportunity to think out of the box by coming up with innovative...
South African business is already being hammered by a downturn caused by lack of customers through self-isolation … but a number are already turning around their products, delivery systems and customer approach to stay alive.

And, say business experts and economists, the dark cloud of coronavirus may have a silver lining for those companies prepared and agile enough to radically change their business models.

Dr Lize Barclay, senior lecturer in futures studies and systems thinking at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, said the Covid-19 pandemic offered “an opportunity to think out of the box by coming up with innovative and creative ideas”.

“With people facing a prospect of being confined and working from home, the virus presents a lot of opportunities,” said Barclay. “These include a move towards the use of applications for home schooling and software, making remote teaching a reality during dire situations.”

Other business opportunities included:

Virtual tourism to target people in their homes.
Turning restaurant waiters into becoming part of an establishment’s delivery personnel.
Tapping into YouTube to host operas, theatres and live music shows at a cost to “attendees”.
Virtual museums.


“In operating during times of crisis, businesspeople in South Africa should act responsibly and not appear to be opportunists out to make money out of misery,” explained Barclay. “And they do not have to hike prices for services and goods offered.”

The Mozambik restaurant group is planning to keep its outlets open, but will enforce strict social distancing protocols and sanitation regimes.

It is also modifying its packaging for its home delivery service to allow containers to be fully sanitised before the food is packed.

Plans are in progress to deliver food in a “100% hygienic chain of custody”, according to a company spokesperson. This would see food delivered to a customer’s door by a courier who will wear a mask and gloves.

“The fully sealed package will only be unsealed by the customer,” the spokesperson added.

Mozambik is also ramping up an online ordering facility – complete with a payment gateway so no physical money changes hands when delivery takes place.

Barclay noted that, “At the height of the coronavirus, Chinese started working for grocery stores to deliver food, medicine and other essentials to homes on order, because people did not want to be exposed to a crowd of shoppers. Restaurant waiters offered the same home delivery services by distributing menus.

“Local musicians have a lot to learn from the Seattle Orchestra in the United States, which is doing live streaming of music.

“Software is available for use by local artists to hold concerts people pay for and attend in the comfort of their own homes.”

Barclay said doing business had moved on and that knowledge put South Africa in a better position when it came to lecturing students online.

“I have been teaching at the University of Stellenbosch for the past three years and we have students based in several countries who receive online tuition – in a streamlined business school.

“Providing lectures in vocational studies like brick-laying, is not something that is insurmountable,” said Barclay.

Millennials, said Barclay, preferred not to work in offices.

“They are an innovative and thinking generation who would prefer working from home. These are workers of the future,” said Barclay.

brians@citizen.co.za

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