Outlook 2021: Automation will be Big this Year
Ashish Panjabi, COO at Jacky’s Business Solutions, speaks about the road ahead for the industry
How was 2020 for the industry and your company?
2020 was challenging for the industry overall as many crucial segments like retail, hospitality, exhibitions, and events all ground to a halt and then resumed activities in a phased manner as the year progressed. With everyone warier of costs, margins were further squeezed and credit cycles were challenged.
What sort of opportunities did 2020 bring along?
Like any crisis, there are always opportunities, especially as new regulations were introduced and businesses started opening up post lockdown. We worked with several of our vendors and partners to help some of our customers quickly adapt to the production of safety signage or PPE equipment and personalized face masks. This helped many to survive and thrive during difficult times.
Did you face any challenges in 2020?
Pressured profit margins, longer payment cycles, and supply chain constraints all made 2020 more challenging. In addition, trying to get around restrictions of how to service customers was also a challenge we managed to overcome.
What were your key achievements in 2020?
We continued to sell throughout 2020. For vendors like Zund, we closed off on a good year as the importance of automation in the cutting and finishing processes gained more appreciation. From a service perspective, we managed to continue servicing customers, using various remote tools when onsite support wasn’t necessarily possible.
What promises does 2021 bring along?
2021 will see us continuing to focus on key segments like automation in manufacturing that are becoming more popular regionally, where many of our products are now becoming more relevant.
Do you see opportunities in the regional markets with new markets opening up?
We do see the rest of the Gulf markets recovering. 2020 was better in the UAE than it was in the region. We should see the rest of the region recover next year.
According to you, which technologies will be in demand in 2021?
Areas of automated manufacturing will gain in 2021. We are already seeing this with our Zund cutters and BRM laser cutting solutions or with our production-level 3D printing systems from BigRep, Massivit, and Stratasys.
What would you like to do differently in 2021, when compared with 2020?
We will continue improving our use of digital platforms to engage with customers across different stages of the pre-sales, sales, and post-sales processes.
Do you plan to enter new markets or add new products/applications to your portfolio in 2021?
We aim to strengthen our existing relationships in 2021 and, where we do see products that fit a gap in the market, then we will explore those opportunities.