June 2020

Insight June 2020 www.pwemag.co.uk Plant & Works Engineering | 19 emerging markets to achieve future stability and, hopefully, longevity. The question is, how is the engineering sector picking itself up from this initial shock? Emerging markets With the pandemic forcing businesses to focus inwards, this has shed a light on more exposed business areas, as well as highlighting markets - and countries - which firms had perhaps counted on too much. The COVID-19 crisis has given businesses a chance to innovate, whether via new products or services or even a change in target markets. Newspaper headlines are filled with reports of manufacturing businesses responding to the Government’s call for help with ventilator production or switching their output to meet new demands. Examples include manufacturing personal protective equipment or scrubs for the NHS or hand sanitiser for both healthcare use and to restock bare supermarket shelves. Some businesses are now expanding into new European markets, even going global. As a translation service provider, we have experienced a recent surge in demand for the translation of documentation, labelling and marketing materials to allow businesses in a variety of sectors to gain entry to these new markets. Language and globalisation With staff at many companies being furloughed, looking to new markets obviously isn’t just for the here and now. When “business as usual” finally resumes, the economy could well be in a recession with challenging times lying ahead. This is why it’s worth considering making the investment in taking your business to new geographical locations. Just some of the benefits include potentially exponential growth in sales, sources of new investment, access to specialised talent and a wealth of multilingual staff. One of the frequent challenges for UK businesses entering overseas markets is the language barrier. In order to be able to operate successfully around the globe, translations need to be both precise, but also sensitively localised for the given markets. If your business sells directly to consumers, you need to consider how the different cultures in each country converse, right down to slang and colloquialisms. You also need to be mindful of intellectual property protection and trade regulations and policies in these new markets. You only get one chance at making a first impression and, by getting these things right first time, you will have the best chance of effectively marketing your business in your chosen target markets. Corporate social responsibility Another crucial aspect to get right is demonstrating solid corporate social responsibility. Whether it be retailers having special opening times for the more vulnerable, or manufacturers stepping outside their usual area of expertise to produce medical equipment or hand sanitiser, businesses have shown good leadership and social responsibility in the current crisis which will stand them in good stead for the future. ITV News recently reported that The Institute for Manufacturing in Cambridge has been offering support to the NHS in the monitoring of patient flow and hospital logistics. Engineers have been using their experience to build simulations to see how different patient care situations may affect hospitals. Engineers Dyson have also turned their hand to making ventilators, as well as creating engineering and science activities for children off school during the lockdown. One of our own clients is currently investigating the possibility of converting its anaesthesia machines into long-term ventilators. This represents a timely example of the need to diversify, innovate and be open to new ideas. It also shows that even the toughest of times can act as a source of inspiration to do good for society and the company’s long-term health. The Royal Academy of Engineering has embraced its corporate social responsibility during the Covid-19 pandemic, helping to identify potential solutions and facilitate useful contacts across its national and international engineering networks that could help governments solve problems and assist the public health response. The Institution of Engineering Designers is also calling for engineers to help support the NHS through a project called Engineers for the NHS. The various forms of assistance may include testing sterilised surgical masks and helping with ventilator production. Innovation and the future Many business owners might well admit that, under normal circumstances, they can be rather slow to innovate. The familiar reasons tend to crop up time and again; ‘we understand our customers, so we don’t need to’, ‘we’ve got targets to hit in the short term and we don’t have the time’. But, when unexpected events happen, business owners simply have to think on their feet and come up with new ideas. Being creative under pressure isn’t an easy matter though. Businesses need to take this as an opportunity to determine what processes are missing in terms of being prepared for the future. Is time ever set aside for employees to be creative? Do you encourage teams to share thoughts and explore without the fear of repercussions? If not, now could be the time to futureproof your business. The strategic decision to enter international markets naturally often requires organisational changes too. But now is the time to realign to the new reality, create an appropriate strategy and act. Alistair Binks, general manager of technical and life sciences translation specialists Albion Languages.