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When the problems change!

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The objective of students and professionals has been to gain an understanding and an experience of how to excel in life and become a success. Our educational system has been based on what trends are relevant in the market and industry. It is also based on how well the course structure equips the students with the necessary knowledge to work in this system.
The courses including marketing, accounting, finance, management, advertising among others impart the “how-to” aspects of completing professional and official tasks. Throughout the many decades and centuries during which the educational system has been in place, the objective of classroom education has been to identify a problem and offer a solution. Marketing graduates find ways to sell products and services; finance graduates know how best to gauge and enhance a company’s financial status and the list goes on. The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting global lockdown became a mega source of disruption for all businesses. It was a time in our lives when all current problems ended and new problems emerged.
Companies needed to restructure their vision and mission according to the new needs emerging from the customer’s insights. Take online classrooms for instance. Educational institutions that operated large campuses were able to save utility expenses (electricity, water, gas). However, they had to invest in creating an online campus while providing training to their lecturers on how to use the Learning Management System (LMS). Huge investments were incurred to design and implement the LMS.
Another key example is that of airlines. Key airlines of the world that were generating profit daily had to ground their airplanes and crew until the airlines were allowed to operate again. Their problem was not how to add more countries to their destination or how to train their crew, their problem was more about sustainability in the era of COVID-19 and lockdown.
This world has changed rapidly in 2020. The concepts, theories, and practices that were applicable until December 2019 were rendered almost obsolete by mid-2020. This radical swift came forth when the modalities of the corporations were altered. The problems that revolved around the course structure of degree programs changed that compelled the problems to be altered. The ‘what’, ‘why’ and the ‘how’ were changed to ‘what now’ and ‘by when’.
Once the lockdown was implemented in March 2020, faculty members across the world in all educational institutes began asking what will be the modus operandi of taking classes. Although some faculty members had the idea of taking online classes, for many it was a new endeavor. Their life turned upside down when the virtual world blended with reality. A similar drastic change was witnessed and experienced by owners of eateries, hotels, and restaurants. Since dining in activities were closed and e-commerce activities of ordering food at home were suspended, the restaurant owners had to ask ‘what now’?
Because of social media and experience of dining in, customers did know about the quality and authenticity of eateries but could not dine-in or order food. These eateries had marketing teams and finance teams knowing what to do and how to do it. But they could not make the business move forward. This called for an innovative strategy. A coffee house in Karachi launched coupons that customers could redeem at a later date once the lockdown lifts. The customers paid for it online. It helped the coffee shop to continue earning revenue while the customers were given a coffee once the eatery began online deliveries.
The COVID-19 has taught the corporate world and especially the professional and relevantly fresh graduates the importance of adapting to change. The tried and tested rules used by the corporations have lost their ground while new concepts have been developed. For instance, traditional advertising through print and electronic media saw a decline in efficiency as it required the consumers to leave their homes to make the purchase. Therefore, they began looking for alternate methods. Online buying was the solution. Companies selling books and garments through Facebook flourished while e-commerce retail websites saw a growth in their business.
According to ACI Worldwide, several online retail companies experienced a 74% rise in sales in March 2020 as compared to March 2018. It is up to the students and professionals to gauge this change in business models to ascertain their success in the post-COVID-19 era.