In the recent inauguration of the Bengaluru Tech Summit, Mr. Narendra Modi said that our governance model is Tech-First.
The tech adoption rate has been the highest during the pandemic, forcing people to forgo usual tasks and work online. This phase has been called “the quickening” where a decade’s worth of tech adoption happened in 6 months. With sectors such as education, retail, and finance going online, it’s been a great boost for the country with respect to technology.
According to Narendra Modi, India is at a very advantageous stage where we can create technology solutions in India which can then be deployed throughout the world. India has good technologists with the ability to find solutions. One of the most beneficial of these advancements were farmers and families in rural areas, who were able to order necessities at the click of a button.
With the mitigation of compliance with regards to the IT sector, it will be easier for India to deploy its solutions to different parts of the world. The theme of the tech summit is “Next is now”. Modi said that it was only fitting that technology was aiding with the organizing of this event. In the inauguration, the PM also spoke about the importance of technology in the Indian government, and the benefits it has yielded for everyone, and how Indian technologists will keep yielding benefits for themselves and everyone related to them.
Technology has already become a huge part of our day to day life and it will only make life easier for us. Improved technology requires the best minds to come together and find solutions. And thereby calling for the fortification of tech teams. Without great tech leaders with visions, there is no scope for improvement. This means every company will look for tech leaders as CTO’s will be indispensable for an organization to thrive.
With employees working hard despite the slump in business due to the pandemic, companies like Unacademy, Zerodha, Meesho offered the ESOP buyback options to their employees as a way of showing their gratitude as well as incentivize them. ESOP is a way of letting employees know that they are a part of the company and it motivates them to work smarter.
What is ESOP buyback?
Under an ESOP buyback, employees holding vested ESOPs can sell their ESOPs to their company or employer. Startup companies may choose to buy back the ESOPs at a premium under specific instances. Employees get a chance to share the rich valuations and feel rewarded for their continued commitment. The buyback creates wealth for both the employer and employee.
Buybacks can easily be called a method of employee compensation by startups. The scheme is offered to improve pay packages thereby ensuring a higher employee retention rate, which is the biggest challenge faced by many startups today.
Two of our clients- PharmEasy and Swiggy have announced that they will be buying back their stocks from the employees as a way to support their families and as a way to deal with the operational losses caused by COVID -19.
Leading Health-Tech brand, PharmEasy has decided to buy back the stocks for around $3 million. With the competition increasing in the sector, with Amazon and Reliance entering the market, PharmEasy is using this as a wa`y to inculcate confidence within its employees. The buyback will benefit the early employees majorly. In the latest funding round in November 2019, PharmEasy raised $220 Million.
With FoodTech getting back to their feet after the lockdowns, Swiggy says that they’ve recovered by 80% with the food delivery services. To incentivize the employees, they will also be introducing the ESOP Buyback options. The buyback will benefit both current and former employees of the company. Some of them may profit about 3x from the initial price.
With the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the horizon, it is important to invest not just in innovations but also in people who understand technology. With AI and automation on the rise, developing software is just as important as understanding them. Many employees will need to reskill and upskill based on their job requirements to stay relevant to the market.
There were mass layoffs when COVID happened. People were not sure if they’d continue having their jobs or not. But while some industries were firing, some were hiring. Especially tech professionals, after the shift of most businesses to the online platform. Along with software developers, the cybersecurity field, cloud and infrastructure, and data science fields were hiring. Even before COVID-19, the skill requirement of major companies was changing. The pandemic has simply forced people to evaluate their business models and the skills expected by their employers for future business purposes and to accelerate digitization.
According to an article from McKinsey, employees will need four sets of skills that could help to lay a business’ foundation. They are digital, cognitive, social and emotional, and adaptability and resilience skills. The pandemic has escalated the desperate need for digital professional skillsets to help companies integrate themselves with the various technologies and platforms of today. Companies are also looking for people who can take initiatives, look at the broader picture, and sustain the business from any part of the world.
Many businesses have moved to the digital space, and hence, the employability of candidates with digital skills seem to be the highest. But it is not the only skill employers are looking for. They want candidates with other skills such as leadership skills, creativity, innovation, and adaptability. Because of the inability to conduct personal interviews, the ability to articulate and express themselves makes communication an important skill. With most of the companies now looking towards a hybrid remote-working future, these skills are going to be the most in-demand.
According to an article in Forbes, the work assigned to the employees must be as independent as possible because Work From Home does not ideally mean standard working hours, good connection, and a WFH setup. So, the skills that will essentially be required would be basic technical skills, leadership, and communication skills. Digitization has increased the demand for technical skills and analytical skills, as the consumers now prefer online products and services rather than offline experiences and hence more data is available for the analysis.
Demand for both “digital” and “human” factors drives growth in potential occupations. In parallel, seven main professional clusters are emerging. These represent, on the one hand, the adoption of emerging technologies — increasing demand for green economy jobs, leading positions in the data and AI economy, as well as new roles in engineering, cloud computing, and product growth. On the other hand, the ongoing importance of human interaction in the modern economy is also expressed in developing occupations, giving rise to greater demand for employment in the care economy; positions in marketing, sales, and content production; as well as positions at the forefront of people and culture. Indeed, the future of work highlights the need for a wide range of skills to complement these career opportunities, including both disruptive technological skills, but also advanced industry skills and core business skills.
In the Post- COVID scenario, the highest-demand skills will include both technological and cross-functional skills. Growing demand for high-growth careers has further driven the value of a range of distinctive skill sets which promise growth and prosperity in the new economy. While some technical clusters, such as Data and AI and Engineering and Cloud Computing, require strong expertise in digital technology, other high-growth careers place greater focus on business skills or specific industry skills. These in-demand skills can be categorized into five distinct skill clusters: Business Skills, Specialized Industry Skills, General and Soft Skills, Tech Baseline Skills, and Tech Disruptive Skills.
Almost a year back we were living in a world that seems completely different from the one that we live in today. The COVID-19 outbreak has forced us to change the lenses through which we look at companies and individuals. This is a story of one such company and one such individual who were united by their changed perspectives.
In May 2019, Purple Quarter was engaged with a SaaS giant for a Tech Leadership role. The firm was almost on the verge of becoming a Unicorn, a feat they still aspire today. We introduced them to a tech leader that in our opinion was a perfect fit for the company. He had a couple of decades of experience in product based SaaS companies and was then working for a company valued less than 5 times to the one he was applying for.
Even though the tech leader had job offers in multi-billion dollar companies overseas, staying in India was his top priority. There is no denying that the SaaS giant’s leadership position he was gunning for has one of the best tech infrastructure in the country, thus, in India, was one of the biggest targets for people with similar profiles.
However, the company was on an upward trajectory and wanted people with experience in larger firms. Another reason for the mismatch of the profile was that the tech leader wanted a remote work option to stay close to his family when necessary. Needless to say, the tech leader stayed in the same company and the mandate for the role also died down.
Fast forward to May 2020. While most companies were struggling to find a revenue stream, this particular firm, like many other SaaS companies, saw an opportunity to expand and grow. They needed urgent leaders to run their expanding business. However, this time, they were looking at candidates with more agility, flexibility, people with hands on experience with scale, people who are not afraid to come out of their comfort zone to try new things.
Remote working was another area where the perspective of the SaaS firm changed along with the entire world. Company functions that we never imagined would be possible to be done remotely was pivoting to remote roles.
We got a mandate to close the leadership position as soon as possible. Typically, a role of such stature takes 60 days to close. But Purple Quarter knew exactly where to go. In just 30 days of the revised mandate, we were working on onboarding the Tech leader in the SaaS giant. It is truly commendable how quickly the SaaS major adapted to the ‘New Normal’ and got the same Tech Leader onboard in under a month. It truly is a testament to their leadership team, their TA leader and the Tech Leader for making this happen.
This is just one company changing its outlook to accommodate a post-COVID-19 worldview. There will be numerous such examples.
We are living in uncertain times. The only certainty about the COVID-19 pandemic is that it will eventually end, and when it does, many of the changes it has brought will recede. Consumers will once more shop and socialize, supply and demand will rebalance, and markets will recover. History tells us, however, to also expect some lasting change in the wake of the crisis—such as Glass-Steagall after the Great Depression, increased suburbanization after World War II, and heightened security following 9/11. Similarly, in the wake of the turmoil, company performance and position can either shift temporarily, or permanently.
Companies that master both the transitory and the transformational response to a crisis reap long-term rewards. Transitory responses entail rapid actions that are critical for survival, including protecting employees, managing cash, and flexing supply chains to meet demand. But occupying new positions and building new advantages requires transformational moves and investment. In a crisis, when the immediate response can be all-consuming, transformational moves are harder.
How can you be ready for a Post COVID-19 World
Expect change and look ahead: Organizations tend to become myopic and insular when under threat. But crises often mark strategic inflection points, and a focus on the present should not crowd out consideration of the future. The key questions become, what next, and with what consequences and opportunities?
Understand broader social shifts: Addressable opportunities are often born out of new customer needs and frustrations, so listening to customers is vital. However, traditional surveys tell you only about existing product and category needs and uses; consumers may not be explicitly aware of their emerging needs. Companies need to look more broadly at how social attitudes are shifting to understand which observed changes in behavior and consumption could be lasting.
Scrutinize high-frequency data: Aggregates, averages, and episodic statistical data will not reveal the weak signals of change. Companies need to access and analyze high-frequency data, such as data on credit card transactions, at a very granular level to spot emerging trends.
Identify your revealed weaknesses: The crisis will unquestionably exhibit needs for more sweeping readiness, flexibility, agility, or leanness in different parts of your company. Those weaknesses also signal opportunities to renew your products and business model and serve customers better. They may also help you understand broader customer needs since others are likely to be experiencing similar stresses.
Study regions further ahead in the crisis: China and Korea are many weeks ahead of Western countries in their experience of crisis and recovery. By studying what happened in these markets, leaders can better predict which changes are likely to stick or could be shaped. A geographical fast-follower strategy may be available to agile players.
Scan for nonconformist activity: Some companies, often smaller players on the edges of your industry, will be making bets predicated on new customer needs or behavioral patterns. Ask yourself, who are these mavericks, and which potential branches and leaves on the tree of possible shifts are they betting on? Are those bets gaining traction? What are you missing? From there, you can decide on the appropriate response to each opportunity or threat: ignore, investigate further, create an option to play, replicate and exceed, buy the maverick, or act with high priority.
Look at which new patterns reduce friction: Frictions are unnecessary delays, costs, complexities, mismatches with needs, or other inconveniences that a customer experiences in using a particular offering. Forced habits that entail more friction than the traditional alternative are likely to be temporary: we may be forced to eat only canned food from our pantries in a crisis, but many are likely to return promptly to consuming fresh food when it is over. On the other hand, forced habits that reduce friction are more likely to stick: how many of us relish the thought of carving out a couple of hours each day to reach our workplaces? High-friction areas are also ones where it is logical for mavericks to innovate and where they are more likely to succeed.
Maintain hope and growth orientation: It’s almost inevitable that we will face a deep post-crisis recession. This is not a reason to postpone innovation and investment. Counterintuitively, 14% of companies grew both their top and bottom lines during recent economic downturns, and our analysis shows they create value mainly through differential growth. This is true across all industries. The evidence is clear: the best time to grow differentially is when aggregate growth is low. Flourishers, in a downturn, do reduce costs to maintain viability, but they also innovate around new opportunities, and they reinvest in growth pillars to capture the opportunity in adversity and shape the post-crisis future.