Post COVID-19: Experts Proffer Tech Know-How, Solution Driven new Wave of Training
A body of experts has drawn some form of parallels between the 2007/8 global economic meltdown –(recession) and the current pandemic, advising that marketers and brand owners should be wary as the economic impacts of the current COVID-19 pandemic, though a health and safety issue, are similar to the 2007/8 economic meltdown.
The speakers were speaking as the COVID-19 continues to take its toll on businesses around the world with many in their hundreds closing shops, experts have professed that innovation, training, and remodification of the curriculum would provide a lasting solution for businesses out of the protracted pandemic crisis.
The guest speakers, Samuel Odusami, Samuel Odusanmi, Group Head, Strategy and Research, SBI Media and Ozoemena ‘Ozone’ Mbanefo, Founder / Provost, 02 Academy spoke to the theme:” Post Covid-19: Training and Manpower for the Industry, What Needs to Change”. The platform is a remote interactive session put together by BrandCrunch, Nigeria’s premier online marketing news portal and moderated by the Publisher, O’Lekan Babatunde, as part of the Brandcrunch Learning Session Series.
Taking an industry overview of the industry, Odusanmi submitted that the last four months have been “rough and tough for businesses as a result of the pandemic as lots of people have lost their jobs across sectors and industries and budgets been shelved because things are not happening the way clients and businesses envisaged at the beginning of the year.
While some may opine Nigeria seems to be doing better than we thought, it’s no gainsaying that the global economy is at the teeters while the Nigeria economy is predicted to enter into another recession towards the end of the second quarter of 2020 all due to the effects of the pandemic.
“It has been a tough one across industries – Aviation- the Virgin Atlantics, Emirates, Turkish Airline, British Airways of this world; Hospitality – Marriot, Intercontinental and the Sheratons of this world; in the Oil & Gas prices have crashed to the lowest in history, these and more are directly impacted. However, ours is a service industry that depends on these industries, so there is no way we can be insulated from these happenings”, Sam said.
To make the point more vivid, in 2017 while exiting the recession, the entire industry did N104billion; in 2018 it recorded a recovery with about N116billion, in 2019 the industry slowed a bit with about N115billion.
In the current 2020 with the effect of the pandemic, it is projected that industry billings could go as low as N50billion, about 60% shave off! This is true because budgets on out-of-home, experiential, promotions and sponsorships among others have been shelved. “These are the big numbers we have to pay attention to and use them to plot our recovery plan”
In view of this, the current situation has birthed a new normal for businesses and organisations to adapt to current reality and device means to stay afloat. One of the ways businesses and marketers were able to stay relevant during the economic meltdown was integrating technology into the fulcrum of the business as the real alternative, Odusami explained.
“Technology-led companies, have it better at this period. For instance, Zoom was hardly known before the crisis, today it’s a global champion with a market capitalization of more than $50 billion. The popular video conferencing software “Zoom”, has gained more than 160% this year alone. Zoom and similar businesses have affected the way meetings are held, and Work From Home (WFM) concept as part of the changes ravaging the world.
Other major changes we may need to get used to – for instance include – events and brand activations; and product launches which have now gone virtual; also the huge expenditure usually made on brand creative development, TV commercial productions are more or less in comatose. What is mostly done now is to leverage the power of social media –using young respected and influential people to push relevant messages.
In this wise, the speaker holds that advertising will never remain the same. Of course, it has always been changing. “By God’s grace if there is a vaccine and COVID-19 disappears, a whole lot of culture is being built, a whole lot of attitude formed and perceptions created, what we need to do is pay attention to all these to proffer workable solutions. Brand owners and agencies should not wait for COVID-19 to go away but work around the new normal to sustain the business”, he advised.
According to Odusami, what we have on our hands is similar 2007/8 global economic crisis that led to the recession, though it wasn’t a health and safety issue, the economic implications are similar. During the meltdown, a lot of advertisers tweaked their marketing modules with investments diverted into digital marketing (the new media). The direction of flow is looking the same!
“That was the era the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Google among others got into digital marketing and they are the better for it today. Players should be focused and not be carried away that this is a pandemic and not a recession.
As an aside, media houses are urged to consider stopping their off-line publications, as they can only get into more trouble by continuing with what can no longer sustain itself. Drawing a parallel from the US and Europe, most print editions were discontinued as early as 2007/8 economic crisis. “Newsweek sold off its print edition to Bloomberg at a paltry $5million” for instance, pointing to the fact that it is the era of digital.
To underscore the changes in the system, Sam noted that as print ads are drying off, digital advertising is witnessing an exponentially increase. “A lot of companies couldn’t shoot advert commercials because of social distancing but they are able to deploy influencer marketing while experiential marketing and promotional marketing were shed off”.
Hence, it’s no longer fashionable just being a big agency, but the potent question in this era is, what solutions can you bring on board to solve clients’ challenges? This suggests there is an “absolute need for a new wave of training for our people”. Businesses should not wait and lament about COVID-19, “it is not a death sentence to us and our business, rather we need to find a new approach to solve problems and stay relevant”.
Speaking in the same vein, Ozone said innovation remains the only way for businesses to stay relevant in this time of pandemic but lamented that most “Nigerians are still struggling to come to terms with the reality”.
According to him, “innovation is the currency of the future. In terms of creativity, we are not where we should be. We need the fully embrace the concepts of “Glocalization” because it’s Nigerians that can tell Nigeria’s stories.
He lamented that the current educational system of Nigeria doesn’t give room for creativity and training that are the bedrock of innovation.
“The truth about training is that there is a lot of work to be done. Our educational system is nothing to write home about. When you see someone that reads mass communications in school and those that learn, there is a lot of gaps. The gap is what is to be filled. There is a lot of work to be done to help the young generation”, he said.
As the founder of one of the foremost hands-on advertising training institutions in the country, Ozone believes that COVID-19 has become another eye-opener that all trainers need to urgently rejig their curriculum to reflect the new normal. This compels that there should be a symbiotic working relationship between the “town and the gown”.
In this wise, in addition to its outstanding training procedures, 02 Academy is putting together an online-based training in the mold of Udemy. The new training module according to him will be delivered by respected professionals in the business. This is aimed at reflecting on the current needs and requirements
Also corroborating Ozone’s submission on training and retraining, Sam added that the current module of operation isn’t meeting up with current realities. “I think what we have currently is not meeting up, now that we are in a pandemic, we need to scale up. Our curriculum is not in line with the current reality. The industry needs to device a means to add talents to participate in the educational system. Some industry players need a better way of doing things”
He added that advertising agencies need to embrace technology better than they currently do and plug into major platforms that can sharpen their skills.
In his closing remarks, the Chief Navigator, 02 Academy emphasised that constant training is the way forward to stay relevant and be a problem solver because information is constantly changing.
“There is always a way out of any problem that faces us, training and innovation is the solution. Training is a constant thing the moment you stop learning, you start dying because information is constantly changing, so you too must keep abreast of developments”.
In all, a pandemic situation is meant to recharge and reset, organisations and businesses are therefore, urged to brace themselves for the new normal the future holds through training and retraining and embracing technology more than ever before.
Taking a cursory look at the foregoing, it becomes necessary for marketers and brands to be proactive, innovatively embrace technology for remote meetings, remote working and devising means of reaching the target audience more economically and efficiently.