How APAC technology sector leaders are facing up to the challenge of COVID-19

17 Apr 2020

How APAC technology sector leaders are facing up to the challenge of COVID-19

Insights and best practice from the Odgers Berndtson webinars for tech leaders in APAC.

Technology leaders certainly found themselves in unchartered territory as they entered the world of working from home. But as Odgers Berndtson caught up with APAC Tech VP & HR leaders on recent webinars, and despite obvious concerns of the short to mid-term financial effects of the global pandemic, businesses are finding routes to navigate significant challenges on all fronts.

We’d like to share some of the insights that were voiced at the webinars, under five major headings.

Tech observations across Asia

The usage of Salesforce and CRM is going far further as a communication mechanism between the teams. Companies are leveraging the technology they have to its fullest extent now.

A few competitors have been acquired – people realised they may not make it through.

Cancellation of all major tech events across ASEAN, ANZ and Japan will impact the business in three quarters time.

India has been a country that has increased productivity in working virtually, but this not a long-term sustainable option.

Customer focus 

As everyone goes virtual, the onus is on leadership and their teams to find creative ways to speak to potential clients.

Deepen your relationships within existing accounts whilst using this time to better understand your customers and your competition.

Don’t take advantage of customers, be sympathetic – offer free licensing, for example.

Understand partner community – listen to how they pitch your product.

Business leadership

Essentially, there are three things to think about in this crisis: acceptance, performance and opportunity.

Acceptance This has happened and is the new reality – we are now living in a virtual world for the next few months. Next quarter performance could be flat at best. Instead, focus on things you can control.

Performance Businesses have gone into cost containment, but not a reduction of workforce. Everyone is feeling a little bit of pain, but holding together as a team and retaining top talent will position the business well for the upswing.

Opportunity  Encourage everyone to keep busy. Learn about your customer and competition, learn about your markets. Get account plans done. Clear up Salesforce data entry. Be forward thinking and pivot resources to where the heat of the market is. Be prepared for recovery - organisations who can retain talent will be well positioned for the upswing.


Encourage  leaders to express empathy within the company to say publicly it is okay to let things drop, it’s alright to be angry. Acknowledge the challenge of managing children, work or small spaces at home, there is a challenge to balance family needs as well productivity.

Keep people together and learning from each other.  Increased engagement is a must – having end-of-quarter drinks over a Zoom meeting.

Experiment with non-work activities to keep up good mental health, like a song a day, a dance, bring a pet day. 

Leaders have much more time on their hands due to the travel restrictions, so use this opportunity to participate with local reps a lot more. Sit in on their sales calls with clients, understand who and what is effective over video. This is especially important for younger employees early in their career who need the collaboration and learning in a team.

Review salaries and commissions on a country by county basis, and avoid a one -size-fits-all approach because verticals and countries aren’t the same.


What’s next?

COVID-19 speeds up digital transformation and is fundamentally changing the way people work – leading to increased mobility, less travel and changes in go-to-market strategy.

Recovery and return to work won’t be immediate.

Talk to Chinese colleagues and circulate lessons globally – show that this can be beaten if we adopt, adapt and implement what has worked in China.

We hope you find these inputs from across the APAC Tech industry useful, and please get in touch if you have any questions about leadership and talent issues. We would be delighted to help.