So where are we six months or a year from now? What does the future hold for us, our clients and partners, and friends?
After a call with a business prospect, I sit in my chair in the empty office. All the employees are working from home, and we’re rather lucky since nearly all of our clients are digital, and indeed most of them are in entertainment, online banking, fintech, and health & fitness sectors, so they’re stable and future-proof regardless of this anticipated global financial crisis. We can work remotely with little to no loss in performance. So we’re holding up well, right?
However, I hold talks with business owners from the USA, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East, and I know that some companies have had at least one round of downsizing, while others have paused or postponed their projects. And I still have self-employed friends who have been forced to shut down. The coronavirus economic impact can hardly be overestimated.
For several organizations, we arrange crisis management training, and we know that short-term survival is their top of mind priority. Though others are peering into the uncertain future, trying to decide how to market themselves when the coronavirus crisis is over, and things will be back to normal. But I’m wondering, what will this ‘normal’ look like?
Five Future Predictions for a Post-Coronavirus World
Currently, it’s impossible to foretell what will happen and even how long the emergency will last. There is a variety of potential futures, and everything depends on how people, businesses, and governments will respond to economic after-effects. As a tech person and an IT business owner, I hope that we’ll learn from it to reimagine our processes and create something more promising. Consequently, I believe that my future technology predictions outlined below will spur you into action.
1. Enforcement of digital
This epidemic forced everyone to self-isolate and work from home. People had to pool their interests and find effective remote work tools and digital solutions to hold meetings, conferences, workouts, lessons, lectures, and more. Many of us have unleashed the possibilities that will continue in the post-COVID-19 future.
Currently, around 41 percent of workers prefer to continue working from home even after the pandemic. However, I expect these numbers to grow when people get back to the office and realize all the benefits of working from home. Meanwhile, 74 percent of CFOs plan to shift at least 5 percent of their office workers to remote positions permanently.
I venture to say that after the coronavirus pandemic, business owners will be more open to outsourcing and outstaffing. What used to be novel and intimidating is already the new normal. We’re all dealing with remote work, digital ecosystem setup and maintenance, distributed team management, aren’t we? Those factors that have been called drawbacks or downsides are now the only way to live through. And what’s essential, it’s challenging but manageable.
2. More contact-free interactions
COVID-19 makes people more aware of each and every touchable surface that can transmit the virus. Even cash is called dirty. When it comes to shopping online, the benefits of contactless payments are obvious and unavoidable. But people are social creatures, so visits to physical shops or farm markets are imminent, and that’s where we may face the ‘touching’ problem. Of course, you may note that digital wallets are rather popular these days, and you’ll be partly right. In China and India, digital wallets are used by over 80 percent of buyers. Meanwhile, in the United States, the adoption rate is less than 10 percent. There’s still a huge room for growth.
Additionally, in the post-coronavirus world, we should expect fewer touch screens but more voice interfaces and machine vision applications. Both technologies are widely-applied by social networks, so their migration to commerce is just a matter of time. With customers wishing to minimize physical contacts, companies within different industries will peer into emerging technologies and recent advancements more often.
3. Smarter monitoring
The power of data in the context of the coronavirus epidemic cannot be overemphasized, and the utilization of IoT and Big Data will help not only to monitor but also to manage or even prevent future pandemics. The current situation with the coronavirus outbreak and various investigations on this topic claim that with the proper use of data, the current crisis could have been mitigated or even prevented.
Consequently, the research and development of early-warning global or local applications will reach new heights. Such solutions may report and trace those having symptoms of a new outbreak. GPS information can be utilized to analyze where the affected have been and with whom they’ve interacted. Needless to say that these efforts and initiatives require a thorough implementation of security measures to prevent data abuse.
4. ‘Resilience’ is to become the next buzz word
In the context of business, resilience means the ability to mitigate shock and keep a cool head to capitalize on emergencies, all while outperforming the competition. This capability will be the key to endurance and prosperity in the long run since such companies recover much faster.
How can resilient companies be characterized? — In fact, such businesses are ready for a crisis before it happens. It’s not only about updating the business model, but it’s about reimagining and adjusting the entire supply chain. During emergencies, companies become vulnerable because too often, they cannot get all the elements or parts they need. For such cases, it’s crucial to prepare backups and crisis management strategies. Additionally, investing in resilience and business continuity, business stakeholders should be ready to rebalance their corporate priorities and cut operational expenses.
5. The rise of the contactless economy
For such business lines as e-commerce, virtual health, and e-sports, COVID-19 has already proven to be a crucial point.
- Online shopping isn’t a new kid on the block. When it even seemed that many businesses had already cracked the e-sales code, coronavirus taxed the sector like never before. Currently, companies without online options experience hard times and are forced to invest heavily to catch up with the demand. In the foreseeable future, businesses will have to figure out how to maintain and synchronize both online and offline services, enhance logistics and delivery, as well as build loyalty with existing customers and make them stay after the epidemic.
- The success of virtual health is also impressive. For instance, Teladoc Health, one of the biggest telemedicine companies in the United States, announced about a 50 percent growth in visits in March and stated that those numbers were continually increasing. Meantime, one of the largest telemedicine providers in Europe, namely KRY International, reported that its app registration growth has already exceeded 200 percent. Since even in the best-case scenario, treatments or vaccines are months away, healthcare providers and patients both have reasons to promote online interactions and stick with telemedicine software apps.
- We all know that various sporting events and the Olympic Games 2020 have been either postponed or simply canceled due to the coronavirus. Meantime, esports is thriving, and there is already a virtual version of F1 racing. It goes without saying that virtual sporting events won’t fully replace the traditional ones, but we may see more hybrid solutions where real-life competitions are elaborated with digital initiatives.
Today it’s possible to imagine the world where human contact is minimized but not eliminated since, for most of us, the idea of ‘getting back on track’ suggests popping into stores, talking to colleagues in person, seeing our doctors, going to restaurants and cafes, or cheering for a favorite team together with hundreds of other fans.
Though this pandemic and the financial crisis 2020 bring about many challenges for both individuals and businesses, there is still much change for good. The community spirit is booming as people are taking care of their own families and neighbors. Local farms and producers are also seeing sales growth and will succeed in the post-coronavirus world since their new consumers will stay loyal. But the shift to ‘door-to-door delivery’ and ‘click-and-collect’ is the biggest and irreversible trend of the future.
As the proverb states, ‘necessity is the mother of invention,’ and the current situation has turned into a wake-up call for many businesses. Unfortunately, the pay for change is too high.