There is a popular saying, “What goes around, comes around.” True to the fact, COVID-19 is an ego-slap by Nature to remind humanity the values of conscious consumerism. At the same time, the pandemic has presented opportunities and possibilities for those who are ready to take the bull by the horns; but for that they must be willing to adopt a pragmatic approach.
At the onset, let’s get this right – the traditional crisis response is a no-no, and doing nothing or adopting the same old time-tested, failed approach is not an option. Instead, the right positive step forward is to have a clear roadmap that is well thought out, tailormade and is backed by strong decision-making leadership.
The leadership we speak of is with the full weight of gravitas, for the COVID-instigated hurdles ahead are formidable. The real, profoundly visible and realistic ones are:
- All key driving sectors – namely hospitality, travel and tourism – and regions worldwide are going through a very challenging business environment
- There are no clear signs of the pandemic easing its hold
- The market sentiment is low, as is the level of confidence
- We are witness to revenue disruption and decline
- We are also witness to a liquidity crisis
- There is a leapfrog change in customer behaviour
- We are seeing reverse challenges from Supply Chain
Zooming in on the construction industry
Let’s look at the current market sentiment. The development of any nation depends on healthy, consistent investments, which in turn, are heavily dependent on demand. With an all-round slow down, for obvious reasons the construction and the MEP sectors, as integral parts, have taken a heavy beating. Indeed, the profile makes for unpleasant reading…
- Real Estate – stagnant and characterised by oversupply and shrinking demand
- Hospitality – Negative
- Oil & Gas – Negative
- Travel, Tourism – Negative
- Retail – Negative
Having said so, there are certain new opportunities, which could even be called as gamechangers…
- Retrofit projects – Positive
- Sustainable Solutions – Positive
- Facility Management – Positive
- Healthcare – Positive
- E-commerce – Positive
- Online – Positive
- New Industries – Promising
- Outsourcing – Promising
To take advantage of the gamechangers, though, adaptation is the key, as is survival of the quickest, as is forced entrepreneurship. The UAE market is working its way out of the COVID-19 probation, and with the EXPO round the corner, 2021 should see a turnaround in fortunes. Given the excellent position it has set itself up, the UAE market will certainly be the preferred destination and a gateway to the GCC and broader MENA regions for many a venture.
The need of the hour is strong decision-making leadership to monitor, manoeuvre and guide the process and to embrace digital products, among other solutions. Equally, the leadership ought to look for a solution in every situation, as traditional responses may not be best of the options. Indeed, largely speaking, time-tested approaches have no room anymore. Further, continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.
From a strategic point of view, we ought to seriously consider going back to the 1990s with a 2020 mindset. The inherent features would be to conduct technical analysis, techno-commercial analysis, and techno-commercial and human analysis. These will get us across the turbulent times we find ourselves in.