Survival depends on literacy
Enhancing digital literacy and pursuing a customer-centric experience are necessary as businesses adapt to new behaviour during the pandemic, particularly with travel restrictions and changes in supply chains.
Thailand is migrating from the phase of self-quarantine and stringent lockdown measures to gradually resuming operations under social distancing.
The impact from the Covid-19 pandemic is classified into three phases, with the first an abnormal period where health concerns and working remotely notch up, Santitarn Sathirathai, group chief economist and managing director of Sea Group, told a fintech virtual seminar hosted by the Securities and Exchange Commission under the theme "New Normal: Adjusting Lifestyle After Covid-19".
The second phase is where people start to return to work, but there is still no vaccine available, hence the term "new abnormal period", said Mr Santitarn.
People and businesses are adjusting to this new trend, he said.
Finally, in the long term people and businesses become familiar and can adjust to these new behaviours, said Mr Santitarn.
Although wearing face masks may end once the virus outbreak is effectively contained, permanent changes are inevitable, he said.
Examples include how e-commerce, e-payment and changes in consumer lifestyle occurred after the Sars outbreak was under control, said Mr Santitarn.
The survival of businesses will depend on responding to consumer needs post-Covid-19.
"Although a touchless economy is an issue, I think the significance of human touch will increase, but it is how one deals with this concept," he said.
For example, the real value of coffee shops may not be restricted to coffee itself, but includes customers' need for a value-added experience of drinking coffee at these shops, said Mr Santitarn.
Social media live-streaming can also create a value-added experience for customers, he said.
Chaichana Mitrpant, deputy executive director at the Electronic Transactions Development Agency, said literacy in English and other languages as well as digital literacy are key factors for the digital economy and reducing inequality.
Government agencies have been digitising their operations for many years and the public sector can help its private counterparts in providing electronic data requested by the government, said Mr Chaichana.