How Chinese Companies Successfully Adapted to COVID-19

Learn the two key characteristics Chinese organizations demonstrated during the coronavirus outbreak.

When the Hangzhou Intime department store in China realized customers would not be able to access its brick-and-mortar location during the COVID-19 quarantine, it partnered with Taobao of Alibaba Group to focus on a new channel — social marketing. Using its own employees and sales clerks to host, Hangzhou Intime reported  one livestream event generated the same as pre-coronavirus weekly in store sales.

Essentially all businesses were affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Those that demonstrated innovation increased business model resilience and adapted to the new business environment.

“Under such challenging circumstances, China provides some great examples of business model resilience among companies within traditional industries,” says Daniel Sun, VP Analyst, Gartner.

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Two types of Chinese organizations demonstrated strong business model resilience: Those that leveraged digital giants in their business plan successfully and those with a strong automation foundation.

Partner with digital giants

With movie theaters closed during the coronavirus outbreak, Huanxi Media risked losing millions of dollars on its movie “Lost in Russia.” The company partnered with ByteDance, a digital media platform, to distribute the movie. As a result, Huanxi earned $91 million and a share of advertising.

More than 40% of CIOs and IT leaders consider their relationship with digital dragons to be tactical and view them solely as technology providers. Less than 2% of businesses think of the digital giants as strategic business partners. These large enterprises can help scale cloud or provide payment and digital business platforms, but CIOs must first identify how they can be used to modify current business models.

It’s likely CIOs might shy away from partnering with their competition, but the reality is that many of these partnerships have proven successful for both parties.

Leverage automation successfully

The loan application process can be cumbersome and complicated, which is not ideal for organizations looking for loans to fund the business during a pandemic. China Minsheng Bank invested heavily in automating its loan application process, leading to a supply chain product with online application review, verification, online lending and automated approval. This reduces the approval process time to 30 minutes, making it an attractive offering for businesses.

It’s not possible to automate every piece of the business, but look for vulnerable areas with frequent human error, slow completion time and tedious manual work. Once these areas are identified, work with business stakeholders to match them with the key automation technology. Focus on the three key technologies of robotic process automation (RPA), intelligent business process management suites (iBPMS) and integration platform as a service (iPaaS).

For organizations looking to establish automation during COVID-19, recognize that hiring an entirely new team isn’t feasible. Instead, look to current employee skill sets. Focus on minimum viability automations over fully comprehensive automation and keep stakeholders looped into the process so the end result focuses on key business priorities.

Gartner clients can read more in the full research Lessons From China: Business Model Resilience in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak. Clients can also access insights, frameworks and other tools to respond to the impact of the coronavirus in the Gartner COVID-19 Resource Center.

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