Coronavirus outbreak pushes up demand for scenario planning by IT firms


Amid the (Covid-19) pandemic, which has severely affected the operations of global enterprises, global are asking Indian information technology (IT) services for their help for scenario planning using simulation to better prepare for the fallout of the crisis.

Scenario planning is the analysis and understanding of the latest trends to develop several plausible future scenarios that may help to identify how to be well-prepared to deal with what might happen.

Usually, scenario-planning — through the application of logic — is dominated by big consultancy firms, such as McKinsey, PwC, KPMG, EY, and Deloitte, among others. However, the unprecedented nature of the current crisis has triggered fresh demand for it from a range of firms going to smaller IT firms.

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Manufacturing and retail companies, which cannot afford disruptions to their supply chains, are some of the clients. Pharma and public health care agencies are also approaching IT services firms to build up digital models for clinical trials which are key to new drug development.

“Globally, operation consulting is a $75-billion market, in which business consultants, such as McKinsey and PwC, IT consultants, and other such entities operate. With the Covid-19 crisis, enterprises are increasingly looking at simulation-based modelling through the help of artificial intelligence (AI). It is emerging as a growth area for IT services companies globally,” said Pareekh Jain, an IT outsourcing advisor and founder of Pareekh Consulting.

According to industry insiders, manufacturing and retail clients are looking at supply chain management through simulation models.

“We are currently working with many leading retail and manufacturing brands globally in drawing various simulations for managing their operations with regard to supply chain management, stocking, and demand environment, among others. Many of the e-commerce majors have also shown interest in these kinds of solutions,” said Sundaresh Shankaran, president (Industry 4.0) at ITC Infotech.

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Shankaran said the company is drawing a lot of domain knowledge from its parent group ITC owing to its experience of consumer packaged goods operations.

It’s not only mid-tier IT firms such as ITC Infotech that are undertaking this simulation work. Tier-1 firms like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Cognizant are also doing a lot of work for pharma companies and health care agencies.

TCS, for example, is using AI-based solutions to help pharma clients in the drug design process. Scientists at TCS Innovation Labs in Hyderabad are using AI to find new molecules which can be used to develop drugs for treating Covid-19 related infection.

According to some reports, TCS is collaborating with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to test and synthesise chemical compounds that can help in the new drug development process.

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Similarly, Cognizant is working with clients to improve the supply chain in order to make ventilators and other medical devices and also to manage clinical data for drug trials for pharma and biotechnology companies.

Analysts believe that, at a time when the demand environment looks uncertain, demand for certain services, such as scenario planning, can offset some of the losses arising from the severe business disruption caused by the

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