Category Management: Some Long-Term Implications Post COVID – Namaste!

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While we are still in the throes of the pandemic, some long-term implications are already starting to emerge, and it might be prudent to start thinking about how we will adopt the solutions that we must put in place. For some context, here is what Dr. Fauci said yesterday:

  1. No shaking hands – ever! Do you know how to Namaste?
  2. Permanent reduction in all kinds of crowd sizes
  3. Social distancing as a part of life
  4. Masks as a permanent part of wardrobe

This is what will define the new normal – get used to that term BTW. A colleague went to attend a funeral today that is limited to 10 people when in normal times there would have been over 150 – just imagine that!

One of the issues that will change dramatically is Talent Management. The levels of efficiency and effectiveness of working remotely – both as individual contributors and as teams have already surprised many. And as more technology solutions and Best Practices emerge and are adopted, those levels will continue to rise. That means your entire Talent Management strategy will need to be revisited. Who you hire, how you develop that talent, how you train them – all of it changes dramatically. You may not even be as restricted geographically as you were before in terms of your talent pool. If the employee can travel to the office once every two weeks to meet, socialize and stay engaged, they could live a lot further away than having to commute every day. The effects of reducing commuting overall are almost mind altering in terms of its implications depending on the magnitude.

There are brand new industries already emerging built around Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs). Here’s Anna Wintour (and if you don’t recognize that name, watch The Devil Wears Prada) on the latest fashion trend – masks! This will become one of the hottest industries and will include all kinds of protection devices, technology solutions, solutions to protect your home, your car, and your office. PPEs may become as much a part of your office supplies category as pens and paper. And if you supply something related to that industry or may compete with that industry for the same commodities or suppliers, it should inform and dictate your strategy.

Here’s the most obvious and one we should be doing all kinds of scenario planning on. Any current sourcing from China – whether as a primary or secondary source must be relooked at. The dynamics of that decision have shifted so much that even if you decide to stay, it has to be under a totally new context – your Stakeholders will not allow you to do otherwise. If you do decide to move, clearly that will involve its own set of challenges primary amongst which will be the increase of Risk as a decision factor and the general reluctance of Stakeholders to make decisions during times like this. Near shoring or onshoring will start looking a bit more attractive. Outsourcing will perhaps become a bit less attractive as corporations try to get more control over their value chains because their customers will look for more and more of that.

While I realize that I’m stating the obvious, knowing something and taking action on it are two different things. Many are vehemently arguing that it wasn’t that governments across the world were not aware of this pandemic but that they didn’t start taking action a lot sooner. Those of us that can start sorting through the implications and planning for the longer term will be far better positioned. Namaste!

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Dalip Raheja
Dalip Raheja is President and CEO of The Mpower Group (TMG). Dalip has over 30 years of experience managing large organizations and change initiatives. He has worked across the spectrums of supply chain management, strategic sourcing, and management consulting.
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