We sit down with Manish Bakshi, Managing Director of BenQ Middle East and Turkey to discuss the difficulties faced by the company during the pandemic, its solution-oriented outlook and what the future holds.
What has been the impact of this worldwide pandemic on a global business like BenQ that has manufacturing units and offices across the globe?
The most significant impact for BenQ was quickly moving an office culture of concentrated workforce to adapt to one utilizing telecommuting and decentralized teams to ensure productivity. As an effort to amplify flexibility for its personnel and better succeed in different cultures and markets, BenQ has been initiating efforts to remotely communicate and collaborate with decentralized teams sitting across the globe. There is a long establishment of the BenQ ME Decentralized structure in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and other countries. Luckily, the UAE government approved 30% office attendance from 26th April’ 2020. So, the effect of pandemic along with a fully closed office was really short-lived. Another area that saw a considerable impact has been that of business trips that were a fairly regular practice before the pandemic hit. Considering employee safety, cross-border trips have been cancelled indefinitely, and advanced videoconferencing solutions have been implemented to make up for them. In hindsight, it may just have been a good thing for the environment as trip-cancellations have led to a noticeable reduction in BenQ’s carbon footprint. Moreover, the response around our products in Q4’ 2019 and Q1’ 2020 resulted in a stream of continuous orders during pandemic to keep us going.
How did BenQ respond to the problems that came to life in light of COVID-19? What was BenQ’s approach to managing workflow in the various phases of lockdown?
Part of BenQ’s response was rooted in the earlier adopted flexible work culture, and the rest came from the directives and recommendations from the WHO and the governments of the countries where BenQ operates. The global technology-based solution provider divided their response around three main goals. Firstly, enabling our many employees to work efficiently from home to maximize social distancing between them to keep them and their families safe. Secondly, it had to be ensured that the enterprise remains profitable during this unforeseen crisis, and workflow does not take a hit. Our country-based Service Providers that have been delivering excellent support since 2001 proved instrumental during this crisis. Lastly, we focussed considerable efforts towards analyzing and re-evaluating market opportunities in line with a COVID-affected world and the new normal that is to follow. We designed continuous, consistent, persistent digital marketing activities covering all popular social networking sites to up our visibility. There are many important factors to consider while carrying out an extensive work-from-home policy. It shouldn’t end up negatively impacting employees’ lives due to unreasonable work timings or connectivity issues or any other disruptions that can be avoided from our end.
What has been the importance of technology-based solutions for BenQ’s response during this pandemic?
Technology based solutions have been a saviour for all businesses during this pandemic and tried to utilize them greatly. BenQ conducted more than 150+ webinars connecting EU’s; SI’s; dealers; retailers and distributors to keep things flowing smoothly between all our stakeholders. Our first-ever Android-based smart projectors for business – the E600 and E800ST Series came in 2019. And, we have a wide range of BenQ’s Eye Care monitors already in the market. We realized that during the disruption caused by the pandemic, these projectors and monitors suddenly became much more relevant and sought after owing to the flexibility and eye-care they offer. All the monitors come with Brightness Intelligence Plus Technology that tracks changes in ambient light to adjust screen brightness and colour temperature accordingly. This adaptable technology preserves image integrity while reducing eye strain, headaches, and fatigue. They make use of a Low Blue Light Technology which blocks the most dangerous part of the blue light spectrum to avoid damage. Additionally, there’s Flicker Free Technology with a ZeroFlicker feature that eliminates the flickering. This has made them quite the favourite amongst our management as well in these trying times. We started seeing our own products in a new light as we found new use cases of them from our homes.
Which BenQ solutions can significantly ease the workflow for users like schools and corporates during the ongoing crisis and the new normal that is to follow?
During the pandemic, BenQ introduced EZWrite Live, a one-of-a-kind online whiteboard app that has been specially designed to facilitate cloud collaboration and remote learning to make learning from home more engaging and impactful. Our web-based EZWrite Live runs on multiple platforms like Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. It can be integrated with any video conferencing without any need for teachers to install any additional software for this purpose. The solution supports online whiteboarding along with sticky notes features and facilitates remote interactions and collaborations.
For corporates and SMB partners, we have the latest E600 Standard Throw and E800 Short Throw series that come with BenQ Smart Systems which enable them to facilitate meetings and come with useful business apps. These projectors allow users to remotely access another computer to view files or troubleshoot via TeamViewer; they can create documents collaboratively with teammates via WPS Office; or search the web on the FireFox browser. Users can commence a video conference anytime with the pre-installed Blizz app.
What have been some of the learning lessons for BenQ during its combat on the challenges posed coronavirus?
While the pandemic has taught everyone something in every area of their lives, the most crucial learning lesson for us at BenQ has been in the area of flexibility and feedback. Though we learnt that a large number of people miss their workplaces and the face to face communication with their colleagues that comes with that, we have also learnt that it may not be possible to resume that lifestyle anytime soon fully. We learnt that even though many people seem to be interested in dedicated workspaces in their homes, what they actually need and desire is a flexible solution that helps them seamlessly adapt to a work from home lifestyle without affecting their productivity, and hence, work-life balance. We established a direct interaction with EU’s entities in terms of product sales support; technical know-how and brand awareness. We at BenQ study consumer needs extensively as that helps us design solutions that solve the actual problems. This has been beneficial in keeping our prosperity and demand afloat during the pandemic while giving a positive outlook for the time to follow.
How is BenQ ensuring that its product line-up can add value to users and meet the needs that arise from all-new consumer behaviour in the post-pandemic period that we’re headed towards?
While our product line-up already comes with many features to aid work, study, and entertainment from home, we are continually re-looking at our offerings basis the changing needs and demands of our consumers that spanning across B2C and B2B segments. BenQ’s Smart Eye Care display monitors, projectors, especially our android-based E600 and E800 Series, and flat panels have been especially well-suited during the lockdown and work/study/play from home phase as users have reported high productivity and satisfaction. For example, our latest IFPs for classrooms, the all-new RP02 Series comprises of panels that can monitor environmental status and kill bacteria within their vicinity. The panels in the RP02 Series come with BenQ’s advanced ClassroomCareTM Technologies that tackle challenges posed by the pandemic to cultivate healthy learning environments. For increasing learning efficiency, these panels come with the built-in Environmental Sensors to track air pollution (PM2.5 and PM10), temperature and humidity statuses real-time, enabling teachers to take instant action like opening/closing windows or switching the ventilation systems on to improve airflow. We are also launching special work from home Eye Care Monitors and Smart Projectors with VC Facilities as well as a range of 4K and Portable Range of Projectors and 4K Monitors for better entertainment at home. Additionally, we have some gaming monitors lined up from Zowie keeping in mind the needs of gamers and a selection of big-screen monitors with eye-care features, 4K projectors from EH series and 4K monitors for enhanced leisure at home.
For more information, visit www.benq.com/en-me.