The Impact Of COVID-19
The “Do More With Your Time” interns have been busy working on well-researched in-depth blogs and articles. Here’s an insightful blog by our 15-year-old intern, Devashree Gupta, about the impact of the pandemic on the entertainment, manufacturing, and IT industry.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the national, as well as the global economy, to a standstill. With few barely venturing outside, sales of goods have fallen, manufacturing units have stopped producing, and stocks of companies are rapidly falling. Businesses are struggling, and new forms of collaboration are emerging. The pandemic will leave us as a more virtually connected world. Amid this chaos, industries are tackling the challenge in vastly different ways and paces. The article will explore the impact of this global problem on the entertainment, manufacturing and IT industry.
After talking to a self-employed owner of a packaging firm, I have gained a deeper understanding of the industry. The firm has an employee range of 80 to 100 employees and caters to the specific needs of its consumers. Its target audience consists of food, beverage and oil companies that consistently place orders throughout the year. However, the packaging firm sees a spike in sales during certain times of the year. “We see an increase just before Indian festivals like Dusherra in October when there is greater demand for food, beverage and oil,” the owner stated. This increase in demand for the packaging firm is therefore called derived demand.
One would think that there would be a fall in sales; however, the owner told me, “There is a greater stress on orders because we still have demand, but not enough manufacturing or labour capacity”. Additionally, only 25% of the labour force is actually allowed to come to work while the others were forced to remain at home. He firmly stated that “It (the work) can’t be done at home,” as this is the manufacturing sector where a tonne of hands-on work is required. Even for the 25% that came to work, it has been a challenge to keep the labour force motivated and provide the required sanitation. All the employees have to maintain social distancing, which has also proved to be difficult. The labour force and meeting demand are not the only challenges the manufacturing sector has been facing since the lockdown. There have been many restrictions on the supply of raw material that mainly comes from Dubai and the United States. Therefore shipments of paper which is the main component of this packaging firm have been delayed, further reducing its manufacturing potential.
To make matters worse, according to the owner, “the government has given very little clarity as to the permissions needed during this time,” and while this is understandable, there is a paucity of clarity as to how to move forward. If the lockdown continues for twelve to eighteen months or more, it will be very likely that we will be surrounded by the remnants of the manufacturing sector as a whole. Since this industry is not very netizen, the owner hopes to improve their data systems by taking it onto the cloud server and automate further, which is what many other companies in the manufacturing sector plan to do as well.
Mumbai is not only the central hub of commerce in India but also of entertainment. Thus who better to talk to than the owner of a production house. After more than an hour-long talk on films, Covid-19 and the future of the entertainment industry, there is almost no stone left unturned. The production house mainly caters to “Marathi audience, as well as people who enjoy documentaries and landmark films.
However, in recent years we have a more globalised audience.” Although many parts of the entertainment industry like digital and satellite streaming are still open, others have shut down completely. It’s impossible for cinemas to remain open in many parts of the world now and therefore revenue streams from theatres and cinemas have been entirely closed. Since the lockdown, YouTube has seen a rise in viewers and production house’s are now looking towards releasing their cinematic creations on digital platforms like YouTube, Netflix and Zee5. Usually, the revenue patterns for the entertainment industry are “topical rather than seasonal. If something interests a person or many people they will go watch it, it doesn’t depend on the time of the year,” she told me.
Unfortunately, much like the labour of the manufacturing industry, employees in the entertainment sector are also reluctant to work. Morale has fallen drastically, dwindling the concentration of the workforce. Script writers are unable to find inspiration to write, and shooting has come to a standstill entirely. Even post-production, which includes editing of pieces has stopped all because of a lack of inspiration. Furthermore, there has been a sudden rush toward animated content. Live content needs many people on set together; however, animated content is significantly easier to film with few people on set. However, the film house owner is positive that “after lockdown, everything will find it’s balance and live production will continue,” even though it may take some time for the entertainment industry to come back. There is not a lot that the entertainment industry may change after lockdown, there may be a rise in the amount of content published through streaming platforms because cinemas will take a while to open up and they will definitely start taking a look at the broader picture rather than fretting on the smaller details. Hopefully, this quarantine will give the entertainment industry some inspiration and a lot of introspection.
Information Technology Industry
For the past two to three decades, the IT industry has been leading the world in terms of globalisation and world-wide communication. Thus it was probably the most geared to continue carrying out business during this pandemic. To understand how the IT industry is functioning, I set up an interview with the senior management of a firm that provides cloud platforms. The service they provide lets enterprises run their own data centers using the cloud, thus most of this firm’s work is done online. Since computers and the internet play such an astronomical role in their daily work, the firm has provided extra bandwidth to its employees internet plans which seem to continually get exhausted. Additionally, to keep morales up, the company regularly provides zoom team calls to discuss matters other than work. “Zoom has become a word in our daily vocabulary,” the engineer told me and I truly believe the same goes for every other industry.
The IT industry has found it difficult to forecast revenue for the next three to six months due to the uncertainty of customer demand that comes from all over the world. As for the employees themselves, they have become considerably more productive through various collaboration platforms like slack. However, it is predicted that the motivation of the employees will decrease with the continuity of the lockdown.