When the Coronavirus outbreak started in China in December 2019, little did the world know that a pandemic was about to unfold and engulf every country and industry with its impact. In Wipro’s China delivery center, we heard the first news of COVID-19 spread in mid-January 2020. Taking a proactive approach, we decided it was best to connect with the local government and act as per their recommendations. On checking with the authorities, it was confirmed that COVID-19 is indeed becoming a big cause of concern for people, work and life as we knew it. Person-to-person transmission was happening at a rapid pace, healthcare institutions were bombarded with patients, travel restrictions were being imposed on various locations such as Wuhan and Hubei, and production units were being shut down.
Ensuring business continuity amid crisis
Quick thinking and rapid response saved us from facing business issues at Wipro’s China delivery center. Since our team supports the entire APAC region, we needed to work even through the spring festival to keep up with client commitments. Here’s how we did it:
- Ensuring people safety: We stocked up safety essentials such as masks, sanitizers, fumigants and other hygiene products at our center to ensure people safety.
- Working collaboratively with customers: We quickly connected with the customer and appraised on a possibility that BCP will be invoked and also proposed an alternate plan of enabling work from home. We received excellent support from the customer, and global teams that paved the way for majority of the staff to work remotely. Wipro ensured complete security and privacy of client data and maximum uptime even as the team battled uncertainties.
- Managing high work load with resilience: Since the majority of Wipro’s IT team was supporting the customer’s team in WFH mode, the work load was higher than usual. The team still managed it seamlessly, thanks to the complete support from committed local employees and leaders, backed by excellent support from the customer.
- Ensuring zero revenue loss: With COVID-19 bringing in unprecedented uncertainties in business, our team negotiated multiple SLA waivers with customers to ensure zero revenue loss to the business.
- Resuming work: When Sichuan announced return to normal work, Wipro was one of the select few MNCs to be prepared with a plan to resume operations with less than 50% staffing back in February, post the holidays in China. The local leaders worked well to enable only the critical team to be at office, while the rest worked remotely. We effectively enabled carpooling so employees coming to office could avoid public transport and remain safe and healthy.
- Stimulus from the Government: On the administrative front, The Social Security Bureau in China has provided concession for the employer contribution, which comes to about reduction from normal 25% down to 4.55%. To save on operational costs, we also applied for two month rent waiver due to COVID-19 crisis - the maximum allowed by the local government, which amounted to savings of around 300K RMB.
China’s digital economy paves the way for future growth
Despite the contraction in China’s economy during the first quarter of 2020, the IMF* projects the economy to grow by 1.2% for the year. For 2021, the IMF predicts China’s economy will grow by 9.2%, leading all major global economies. The ground realities seem to mirror the predictions - the latest March Purchasing Managers’ Indexes (PMI) rebounded to above 50% after plunging below 30% in February. The growth indicates stabilization of domestic production activities. As of Feb. 29, 2020, offshore investors held RMB2.28 trillion (USD322 billion) in Chinese bonds - a record high.
What is most interesting to us at Wipro is the boom in China's digital economy - it scaled to 31.3 trillion yuan in 2018, with only 25% of the enterprises embracing digital transformation. The IMF expects China to continue its rapid digitalization, predicting that the size of the digital economy in China will likely contribute 50% of the country’s GDP by 2025. Catalyzed by COVID-19, the Government of China has rolled out a policy package to stimulate the next wave of digitalization, which comes from the business sector, fueling the broader integration of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) with the production process. IDC estimates that 51% of the global IT budget will come from digital innovation and transformation in 2024. For China, it predicts this ratio to be over 70%. Clearly, China is well on track to proving that technology is the means to tide over crisis and build resilience and adaptability.