Dharmendra Ahuja is Founder and CEO of PitchWorx, a graphic design agency that helps brands with compelling designs and presentations to empower their NBD and other pitches with a powerful combination of strategic inputs, quality content, design and a clinching focus on overall aesthetics for the greatest impact.
In this exclusive piece, Ahuja looks back at 2020 across how, in the dark year gone by, his team and he at PitchWorx invented new reasons to consume more, the tectonic shift in the industry and the consumer mindset, and how the pandemic turned out to be a blessing in disguise for his agency.
A roller coaster ride without a seatbelt
The year 2020 was definitely grim and tough for mankind. From a public health crisis to a toll on jobs, communities, mental health, businesses, and losing loved ones, it has changed the way we perceive life. It has tested human resilience to the core.
As COVID-19 cases began to surface and rise worldwide in the first half of the year, throwing us off-guard, it was like playing a game of Tic-Tac-Toe. Complete lockdowns, work from home, travel bans, people losing jobs, indefinite furloughs, people losing lives, and livelihoods, we could only react to what was happening around us. I am sure even the largest corporations didn’t have a business continuity plan to handle a pandemic of this scale and magnitude. Well, the pandemic took us all on a roller coaster ride without a seatbelt.
Every dark cloud has a silver lining
Most organizations shifted to remote working quickly in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19. While people switched to complete work from home, managing people and productivity was crucial for organizations. Effective communication and instilling empathy with employees, clients, and customers were essential to keep all meaningfully engaged when working remotely.
For us at PitchWorx, the transition from an office-based creative design agency to switching to a fully remote working environment wasn’t easy. We kept calm and implemented secure systems, controls, and processes that never existed. And to our surprise, it worked brilliantly. Employee productivity soared. They were more engaged and involved. Going remote helped us save a huge chunk of the cost too. It was a blessing in disguise for us.
Companies in the traditional brick and mortar operations, which had fewer options of managing expenses with minimal revenues during the initial days of the pandemic, started to downsize. While some struggled to survive, there were a few industries like e-learning, OTT operators, and creative design agencies like us, thriving as well.
We witnessed an exponential growth in demand for impactful digital content design; we were acquiring new business. We added people, handed out incentives, raised salaries to meet the growing demand for impactful digital communication: Dharmendra Ahuja
During the pandemic, we witnessed an exponential growth in demand for impactful digital content design, we were acquiring new business. We added people, doled out incentives, raised salaries to meet the growing demand for impactful digital communication – be it a presentation, animated video, communication collateral, or a website. In 2020, we grew as an organization – client base shot up, employee strength increased, and revenues grew by over 50% as compared to the same period last year.
The path to the next normal
The pandemic has impacted how businesses operate. The shock has to lead us towards more innovative, human-friendly, and environment-friendly ways of doing business.
There has also been a tectonic shift in the industry and consumer mindset which has pushed businesses to rethink and transform digitally, to sustain and to grow. In the year of unprecedented change, we invented new reasons to consume more. Having said that, I believe, it has made people more cautious from a sentiment and business standpoint.
Technology has emerged more clearly and has therefore enabled a favorable way for both B2B and B2C businesses alike. It has made businesses more resilient to shocks, more productive, and customer-driven: Dharmendra Ahuja
With this new reality, the next normal contours are divergent from those that previously shaped our lives. With the shift in the sentiments, the performance and demand for online businesses have gone up. Technology has emerged more clearly and has therefore enabled a favorable way for both B2B and B2C businesses alike. It has made businesses more resilient to shocks, more productive, and customer-driven.
The pandemic has caused an inflection with increased penetration, driven by consumer’s need for safety and convenience. Moving towards a coherent online and offline approach is critical for businesses not just to survive but also to pursue efficiency and operational resilience. With businesses restructuring themselves with the technology they will gain greater customer mindshare in-spite of pushing contactless and remote-working models. With the need to radically transform digitally, most organizations are integrating digital communication as part of their overall sales and marketing strategy. And through this, I anticipate this demand for companies like us will only grow.
Light at the end of the tunnel
When would this pandemic end? A question that we’ve asked and heard repeatedly over the year. 2020 was a time for introspection and change that helped us develop new ways to communicate, entertain, and do business. We have started valuing people, family, and emotions which is what I believe is needed to navigate the future. We also witnessed that developing and honing a skill that could feed you and your family is critical in the hierarchy of human needs.
The year 2021, promises to be better than the previous pandemic-blighted year. With a clear sight of the vaccine, life’s started springing back again and there’s a clear revival of hope. In this new year, let’s join hands to build a better world and a finer society that is led by empathy and not fear.