BCP, online learning enabled quick business pivots

During an interview last year about in-demand skills for 2021, PERSOLKELLY Consulting’s Managing Director and Business Head in Asia Pacific, Anthony Raja Devadoss shared about sales and marketing functions, needing to change the way they do things.

This new version of doing things involves digital savvy, the ability to use devices, apps, and bandwidth to connect to different platforms. Virtualisation savvy, or the ability to navigate apps, set up virtual backgrounds, while managing cameras and microphones, is also important.

These are among many other technical skills that job functions need to mentally prepare for, moving forward. And if companies and individuals despair about where to find resources to learn these skills, there is some good news.

Anthony Raja Devadoss

Anthony shared, “A lot of training to prepare to present virtually, are available. Also, HRDF has initiated a lot of upskilling and reskilling programmes for digital literacy, and being comfortable online, is one of that.”

Anthony who is also chair of PIKOM Academy, a sub-chapter of the National Tech Association (PIKOM), further added that PIKOM Academy has many programmes to help SMEs and individuals prepare for; or promote and share their experiences of; doing things online.

He also pointed out many self-learning apps and tools that can help prepare one to conduct online presentations or demonstrations, or provide solutions and support, over the Internet. Be it from a customer engagement perspective, a one-to-one experience, or a coaching perspective, the need to shift to digital is strong.

Many things are done, and will be done for a long time in the future, over the online medium, Anthony also observed.

Business impacts and pivots

Transportation and tourism have had the largest impact and the largest displacement of workers.

Anthony also reminded that satellite industries that support these two industries are also affected, for example retail and oil and gas.

‘At the same time, I must say these industries are going through significant unplanned disruption,” he shared. Companies have had business continuity plans (BCPs) in place, but it is unlikely these BCPs were prepared for disruption to the extent wrought by the pandemic.

Anthony said, “I’m hoping that what we share can help them on their next journey, with new skills.” These new skills (or neo-skills), are a new version of new way of doing things that one needs be equipped with, in this new age.


In general, many are undergoing unplanned disruption as a result of social distancing, SOPs, work-from-home policies, and the overall lockdown.

“I would say some industries could not accommodate that change and come back with an adjustment quickly. Having said that, the rest of the industries found their place in addressing this within 3 to 6 months of the start of pandemic.”

Businesses without a business continuity plan (BCP) have learnt the hard way to have BCP done. Those that were ready with BCP still had and have to upgrade skills because they did not expect the extent of disruption.

“So once BCP is established, the second step they had to take is review their business models,” Anthony observed.

Singapore Airlines for example, decided to put their grounded air fleet to good use. It  turned one of their A380 planes into a restaurant, selling the idea that one can dine on the very best of airline food, on an aeroplane without having to pay a full-fare ticket. The whole experience also includes a tour of the plane, as well as a lie-in, depending on what seats they bought tickets for.

Another business model pivot which is affecting a majority of physical retailers, is the transition to an online format. “Today, I would say it is going to be important as part of the business model, to have the physical avenue and the digital avenue without which you can’t sustain your business and survive,” Anthony commented.

And sure enough, those who made that change or that pivot, have had to upskill for their new needs.

Capacity to upskill

“It took people a while to get remote working. It’s not just about going home, and turning on the computer.

“We as a company. took about 24 to 48 hours to get switched on at home,” Anthony described.

Companies which had that opportunity (to do that) had a solid BCP and a digital literacy level which could make that switch quickly.

Anthony observed that companies that could not, needed time to build remote working capacity and skills.

For example, video conferencing tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams requires one to be prepared to learn and understand how these tools work.

Companies that have internal learning platforms were able to switch business models quickly and allow their employees to quickly upskilll themselves.

At end of the day, professionals whose companies did not have a learning platform or programmes ready, turned to HRDF programmes and a range

Anthony opined that even though Malaysia is ready in terms of capacity and capability to upskill its workforce, the caveat is there has to be effective execution, for the initiative to be a success.