The Coronavirus outbreak has resulted into many concerns all over the world. The pandemic is having a direct or indirect impact on many sectors such as airline profitability is getting impacted by low seat occupancy, supply chains are getting disrupted globally and retail stores are running out of dry goods and toilet paper in many countries which is eventually leading to economic slowdown.
The Covid-19 has already resulted into early signs of a shift in how consumers and businesses behave. For instance, pre-coronavirus crisis, only few people had experience of working remotely. But now remote working is being encouraged by tech and non-tech companies. Some of these changes are direct, short-term responses to the crises which will revert to regular levels once Covid-19 is contained. However, some of these shifts will continue on even after the coronavirus is contained such as creating a long-term digital disruption that will shape businesses for decades to come.
History is evident that every economic recessions and pandemics happened in the past has changed trajectory of governments, economies and businesses work culture which resulted into altering the course of history for years to come. The Black Death in the 1300s broke their conventional feudal system in Europe and replaced it with the more modern employment contract. Similarly, the great economic recession kick-started a major innovation drive that radically improved agricultural productivity.
Though novel corona virus has already many things in corporate and business world, it is also going to shape the future of many businesses, startups, governments and economies in coming future. Over the last few weeks, as the coronavirus has swept across the globe, we have all had to dramatically adjust our daily lives. One can also expect these technologies to take over many conventional technologies. Some of the Coronavirus innovations which are likely to come are discussed below.
More Digitization in Learning
COVID-19 is acting as a catalyst for educational institutions worldwide to search for innovative solutions in a relatively short period of time. Due to lockdown, closure of many schools, colleges and institutions have turned towards online teaching via interactive apps. The use of online learning platform has increased massively. Students are able to take classes as per their convenience and it is also helping their teachers to solve their queries, doubts effectively. To support the fact, students are also making and sending their own videos of athletic training and sports to their teachers as "homework," pushing students to learn new digital skills.
The interaction among students and teachers has increased. This slow pace of change in academic institutions globally is likely to take over old lecture-based approaches to teaching, conventional institutional classrooms. Currently, various creative solutions are being implemented around the globe. This has led the innovators to find more tools and technology to be used for educational purposes. This will push the limits of teaching to another level.
With 5G technology becoming more prevalent in countries such as China, US and Japan, we will see learners and solution providers truly embracing the ‘learning anywhere, anytime’ concept of digital education in a range of formats. Thus, E-learning could become a habit that is integrated into daily routines - a true lifestyle.
Digital Administration will become Mainstream
The Covid-19 breakout has caused government administers to take action quicker than ever before. South Korea drove rapid testing of over 200,000 of its citizens and used smartphones to tag the movement of the infected — alerting the non-infected of those movements via real-time updates. All of these efforts, as well as transparency of biological impact, could have been improved if there were more smart cities in the world.
As governments learn from the Covid-19 experience, it will shift investment in favour of smart cities as it would be critical to have them in order better manage the pandemic event. Today also, many key players benefiting from this shift in gears would be smart governments, focused companies such as Cisco, Microsoft and Siemens as well as digital city startups across Europe and the US.
It is straight forward to predict that the Covid-19 is going to be an accelerant for remote working as well as online education. It is likely that this shift will impact efficiency, productivity and mental health of workers throughout the globe and businesses need to prepare for it.
For companies looking to add the human touch digitally to their workplace, the choices are limited today — with Humu, a startup by ex-google HR chief Laszlo Bock. A handful of other tech companies, such as Github and Automattic, which run predominately on a remote collaboration model can also choose to productize their insights and capabilities in order to help other companies cope. This will create many opportunities to develop such platforms that connect people from remote places and let them work remotely more effectively.
Though trend of wearables has been growing in popularity over the past 5 years, driven mainly by Fitbit and Apple, there are some limitation in their features. However, new features are emerging as sensor technology continues to advance. The pandemic will potentially change this space forever.
Today neither the Apple Watch nor the Fitbit measure body temperature. However, there is a bigger opportunity, outside of wearables will be the in-home diagnostics market. There will be a bigger shift towards virtual doctor appointments as a result of this.
However, virtual doctor appointments don’t completely replace the need for in-person visits when patients need to take the standard flu test, strep test, or have their vitals read. But surely there will be more research in this field which provides many remedies in house only. The amount of new investment and focus on this space will accelerate the progress.
Before coronavirus crisis, though there was a good demand for online shopping but surprisingly there was a tiny demand for grocery e-commerce. According to sources, only 4% of Americans ordered groceries online prior to this crisis but in India, this demand is even lesser in India. But since stay-in-place orders went into effect, shoppers are shifting their grocery shopping online.
This has meant a significant increase in demand for grocery retailers who relied on e-commerce as a small percentage of sales. Suddenly they’re dealing with many times their normal volume. Here, habits are being formed on both sides. The consumer is learning that ordering online isn’t as challenging as once thought, and the retailer is learning to properly staff and fulfill these orders at scale.
As the reliability of customers on online retailing is speeding up, there is going to be demand for online grocery shopping even after coronavirus is contained. So, this changing habit is likely to create opportunities for startups to develop more technologies which help in easing the grocery e-commerce experience. However, if the crisis does last longer, retailers will catch up to demand, the experience will improve, and shopping habits will be altered.
There are a number of possible futures, all dependent on how governments and society respond to coronavirus and its economic aftermath. Hopefully we will use this crisis to rebuild, produce something better and more humane. We must hope that the coming technologies will just make our lives easier.