It would be naive to say that the Covid-19 outbreak has not impacted the industry. While we account for losses incurred and take necessary precautions to combat the outbreak, I would like us all to take a step back during this time of restricted movement and also focus on the positives.
Even though the precautions we take are paramount in safeguarding the health of ourselves, our families and our nation - while we are vigilant of the present, the bigger picture is also in our future.
Most importantly, this bigger picture includes staying true to the required movement controls that were announced - if we cut the spread now, we won’t have to resort to further measures that may have even bigger and adverse effects of our economy in the long term.
While we wish the best for nations who have had uncontrollable surges in the number of infected cases, we should also heed lessons learned from the outbreak worldworld – we must take extra precautions before they become equal realities for us here in Malaysia.
With that said, the next two weeks open up space for businesses to review their strategies and operations to emerge strong once this crisis subsides.
It is perhaps fortunate that the challenges we face are in the first quarter of the year, i.e. we still have 3 more quarters to bounce back for the remainder of 2020. Therefore, it is imperative for the sector to focus on the positives and develop new frameworks and plans for the growth of their businesses once the situation has improved.
One of the key lessons I see from this is the importance of technology use in providing alternative means of conducting business operations.
For example, the closure of dealerships due to the announcement of the Movement Control Order may have resulted in opportunity loss in sales due to the stoppage of customer visits to showrooms – however, any prior investment made in enhancing the online shopping experience would have provided an advantage for the increase in online shopping during the movement restriction period.
Most importantly, the urgency of work from home arrangements also provide an opportunity to incorporate technology utilisation culture among management and employees, as it is a good time to inculcate the use of readily available technologies to keep their operations going, particularly within the automotive services sectors.
This can be further expanded to educate ourselves about increasing the use of technologies such virtual showrooms, online catalogues, e-learning, cloud conferencing and many more.
Physical operations, such as those in manufacturing, may also see a greater need for automation and robotics technology, that may still be able to operate flexibly and continuously without interruptions.
Nevertheless, during these testing times, the government is working as fast as it can to bring the nation back to normalcy, both in terms of health status as well as economic continuity.
Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and its agencies are studying all possible avenues to ensure the impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak are cushioned. One such effort worth mentioning is an online feedback form to gauge industry feedback and proposals on stimulus measures to mitigate the aforementioned impacts, and I urge all stakeholders to participate in the feedback exercise – please contact us to find out how you may do so.
Lastly, I’d like to thank our health officials, workers and all front liners for their selflessness and tireless efforts in combating the spread of the coronavirus on behalf of the nation.
To all Malaysians, the best way for us to respond is by heeding the call to stay safe, contain ourselves in our homes, limit our movement to only essential needs and most of all – remain calm and be informed of developments so that we take the correct steps in combating this crisis together, and bounce back even stronger once the situation subsides.
I’d like to also reiterate that during the movement control order, MARii’s personnel are operating as usual through online work-from-home arrangements, and our communication channels on our portal and social media are open as usual should you need any assistance from us during the containment period.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii).