The COVID-19 has hit the world like a black swan, altering the industrial dynamics, business proceedings, and world economy.
The evolution through pandemics
Going back to 1300s, the Black Death, arguably the most destructive plague ever recorded, shook the long running feudal system in Europe for a modernized employment contract.
Almost three centuries later, a deep economic recession caused by the 100-year old war between France and England originated an improvement movement of agricultural productivity.
Jumping back to the last two decades, the 2002 SARS pandemic pushed forward a then-small startup, Ali Baba, and enabled it to become the grand retail face of the entire Asia. The outbreak was mainly responsible for the company’s growth as people were afraid to commute and come in contact with others anymore, something that is being repeated at the hands of COVID-19 today.
The 2008 financial crisis also came with their own disruptive effects. Companies like Uber and Airbnb experienced a drastic rise in their popularity as the subprime crisis indicated lower savings and income for the majority. This forced people to share their personal assets in terms of spare accommodation space, car rides, etc. and reduce their deficit.
Is COVID-19 having an impact?
We’ve already begun seeing an early shift in the consumer behavior and businesses operating. For instance, remote working is being employed on a global scale by both tech and non-tech companies; airline revenues have been hit by a severe decline with flight cancellations and low seat booking; supply chains are stretching in all directions; and retail stores are reporting shortage of ibuprofen, dry products, and toilet papers.
Understandably, some of these sudden changes will revert back to their normal self once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. However, some other shifts will continue moving with long-term implications shaping businesses and industries accordingly for the future to come.
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The three dimensions of COVID-19 impact
Pandemics throughout the history have marked their influence on economic, psychological and biological scale. The mortality rate and associated dangers depend on the type of outbreak and time it takes to engulf a certain region.
Seemingly, the biological impact has been the foremost, most worrisome and quick to take over the world, with coronavirus especially hitting elderlies or people with weak immune system.
The psychological impact has hit the stock markets, investors are convincingly low on confidence on the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on global productivity alongside the incorrect and incomplete information in hand. While at a more personal level, the psychological impact is also affecting people with self-isolation, social distancing, and a dread of travelling or going outside their homes.
Lastly, the economic impact has just started to surface. At the moment, the demand and supply of some of daily life products have been severely disrupted, apparently, hitting the global GDP negatively.
How is the future upon us?
Long-term changes in the global tech industry and consumer behavior will come as both businesses and consumers will try to come to terms with the psychological and economic impact, given that the pandemic is contained and a cure is found.
As we know how a recession typically changes the business models for various organizations, while pulling down costs. On the other hand, any pandemic facilitates the rise of new categories of businesses. Unsurprisingly, there is a clear indication that both pandemics and recession are the driving force behind innovation against also being the core reasons behind it.
For instance, several business ideas already existed, but only came out of hiding in a quick fashion as a black swan event rocked the world.
This is what takes us to witness the major three innovations in the foreseeable, post-COVID-19 future.
Supply chains giving birth to resilient ecosystems
The global supply chain business has long strived to focus on quality and keep costs under at each step. However, this has led to acquiring a great deal of risk in terms of geographical regions and vendors for various organizations.
Consider China’s measures in response to COVID-19. The country is scaling down and creating worn out supplies which has easily exposed the lack of resilience in this action. Evidently, there is an urgent need of a more evenly distributed, trackable supply of goods across different regions and vendors besides keeping the economies of scale under check.
Easier said than done, this approach will mandate all the major platforms worldwide to incorporate advanced technologies like 5G, robotics, Blockchain, IoT, etc. in order to bridge the gap between numerous buyers and vendors through an ocean of supply chains.
Moreover, the adoption will call self-driving cars and delivery drones into action as the demand for quick logistics will far outweigh the number of human resources in hand.
Therefore, we can say that top B2B platforms like Amazon and Ali Baba will go head to head and compete in the global supply chain ecosystem for future dominance.
Digital bureaucracies to become more conventional
The COVID-19 has forced government bureaucracies worldwide to act as quickly as ever before.
China has constructed a 645,000 sq. ft. hospital in Wuhan within a span of 10 days. South Korea conducted quick testing of more than 200,000 residents and used applications to track the movement of infected individuals, also alerting the non-affected ones of the commuting of infected ones through real-time updates.
This biological impact could have been further alleviated if there were more smart cities in the world equipped with such technologies. According to a study conducted by University of Glasgow, only 27 out of 5,500 large cities worldwide have been known to take such drastic measures.
As the pandemic subsides, governments should focus on investing more on smart cities capable of handling the next black swan event in the future. And the major players taking full advantage of this shift would be smart countries; tech-based companies like Microsoft, Cisco, Siemens, etc.; and other digitally-equipped startups across the globe.
Mental health programs will be channelized through digital means
We can easily predict that COVID-19 will further strengthen the organizations’ and employees’ belief in favor of remote working and online education. The real concern is what will happen when a huge number of workforce turns to remote working, especially for an indefinite period.
Albeit, the move will visibly affect the morale, motivation, and productivity of employees and businesses need to be prepared for such a massive corporate acclimation.
Companies who are willing to add human resources in a digital fashion for their workplace, unfortunately, the options are rather numbered for now. But firms like Humu, a startup by ex-Google HR chief Laszlo Bock, can avail the opportunity in this regard. Other names like Github, Automattic, etc., which mainly work through a remote collaboration model, can too capitalize on the opportunity and help other companies to cope with workflow change.
It can be noted that individuals are actually enjoying working remotely. Hence, health-based startups like Moment Pebble and Braive can assist employees with isolation concerns, and networking tools like Ripple can act as an aide in mentoring and cognitive development concerns associated with remote working personnel.
How does the post-coronavirus world look like?
COVID-19 has proven to be a great debacle with surreal repercussions still to surface for both the corporate world and at a more social and personal level. Obviously, businesses need to prioritize the health and safety of their employees, suppliers, partners, and other concerned stakeholders.
In the long run, we’ll clearly see how COVID-19 has changed the way businesses operate. Nevertheless, companies that’ll work on the underlying changes will succeed, and the ones trying not to digress from their traditional business models will greatly risk jeopardizing their businesses.
Imran Abdul Rauf is a Digital Marketing Strategist, employed at CMOLDS, and specializes in content marketing, email marketing campaigns, lead generation, and other aspects of digital marketing. A content enthusiast by the day, and hardcore gamer by night, Imran is also a regular guest contributor at some of the top tech and digital marketing platforms.