Like past pandemics, COVID-19 will change life as we know it, and this time technology has a big role to play.
Pandemics are not new, and with each one, enormous changes in society occur to prevent future outbreaks, improved general living conditions, sanitation, disease management, and social distancing.
LePan, N, (2020, March 14). Visualizing the History of Pandemics. Retrieved from https://www.visualcapitalist.com/history-of-pandemics-deadliest
The 14th-century bubonic plague brought about major improvements in urban planning to reduce slummy cramped living space and quarantines to isolate the infected populace.
18th-century yellow fever and 19th-century cholera and smallpox epidemics brought advances like city sewers, indoor plumbing, disease mapping, and further urban planning to create separation, like boulevards and suburbs.
20th-century tuberculosis, polio, Spanish flu, and typhoid outbreaks further advanced urban planning, reduced slums, waste management, vaccines, and an emphasis on sterilization.
700 years of post-pandemic change and advancements in healthcare, sanitation, and improved work/living conditions to keep disease at bay.
Surely COVID-19 will be no different.
As the United States and the world grapple with the onslaught called COVID-19, like past pandemics, life as we know it will be different going forward. Many industries have been hammered because of the pandemic, yet others are furiously busy and thriving. This is a time for innovative transformation amidst all the radical changes we are seeing.
Have we not all participated in a virtual meeting via Zoom, GoToMeeting, Teams, or WebEx? Business for the virtual meeting providers is booming, and businesses and individuals will continue to use them in the new world order. As companies and employees have adjusted to working from home (no one misses the commute!), this will be a more accepted option in the future. Long-term considerations with professional space, furniture, technology, policies, and security come into play.
As a result of the coronavirus, the workplace will never be the same. The virus is driving significant changes in how employees interact with each other and with customers, vendors, and any external organization. Social distancing in the modern office space is difficult, if not impossible, due to the physical building and lease constraints. From desks, conference rooms, lunch/break rooms to lobbies, almost everything will require new thinking and design modifications. The market for colocation facilities like WeWork and Regus could be very challenged in the era of social distancing.
Business lunches and coffees have ground to a halt. While in-person has always been preferred, feeling safe while doing so has changed. Expect social distancing to be around for some time. This has led to Social selling as the norm, requiring new approaches and skills. While Blogs, Podcasts, Vlogs, and Webinars have been with us for some time, they have been thrust into the forefront of selling today. Expect them all to be with us for the foreseeable future, if not a permanent part of the modern selling process. Virtual meetings, training, and conferences will be the norm until people feel safe to meet in person again.
The pandemic is driving employees to work from home and application solutions into the cloud, necessitating effective cybersecurity to protect both data and remote workers. Solutions to tackle cybersecurity may have been rushed in the pandemic and will likely need to be reevaluated as life settles down.
New eLearning resources have been a necessity as schools have been shut down across the globe, and lessons learned will likely drive more online study from now on. To keep employees safe, conferences and other professional development may well move online in entirety. Since fitness centers have been closed, the market for online fitness has grown significantly, and that will likely stick. The habit of exercising tends to take hold after several months, and the lockdown mode of online fitness may be here to stay.
Movie streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ did not need a big driver like the pandemic to continue aggressive growth, but that is what has happened. Similarly, with movie theaters closed, the film industry has released some films straight to streaming services with quite a success. Pent up demand for blockbusters to be viewed in theaters will likely drive a boost in sales once the theaters reopen. Online gaming, while already popular, has skyrocketed. Makers of video games are going great guns as people are stuck at home, for better or worse. Finding a way to gather for things like concerts and sporting events has no clear answer at present. If COVID-19 persists, this is not in our foreseeable future.
Similarly, the idea of gathering 20,000 people in a convention hall (like HIMSS 2021) does not appear feasible. Too many people will stay away, and the conferences will not be financially viable to hold.
Home delivery is a luxury that many had not fully embraced before COVID-19, but it may stay at elevated levels even after it is safe to resume normal shopping at stores. The convenience of and quick delivery will have a lasting appeal to consumers.
Mail orders for prescriptions are easy and less costly and could result in a precipitous drop in foot traffic at pharmacies.
Giant retailers like Amazon did not need the pandemic to drive online shopping, but indeed it did. Jeff Bezos has to be quite pleased about that.
The pharmaceutical companies that are sprinting to find a vaccine against COVID-19 are making investments that will tackle this problem and position them well to tackle future pandemics. Those future pandemics certainly lurk in our future, which will drive the pharmaceutical companies' revenue opportunities. 21st-century innovation will hopefully transform this industry in dramatic ways.
The need for good hygiene has certainly driven the increased use of cleaning products, which is likely the new normal. The lack of attentiveness to access to personal protective equipment (PPE) has contributed significantly to both the case and death rate, especially in the United States. Since PPE has expiration dates, manufacturing will need to ramp up to ensure necessary stockpiles are in place when the next pandemic occurs.
With clinics locked down and hospitals primarily managing COVID-19 patients, the use of telemedicine has skyrocketed. Companies like Teladoc and Zipnosis have seen dramatic increases in usage. As patients become accustomed to telemedicine services, the increased convenience and lower cost will help telemedicine become part of the new normal for many treatments.
The effect of dramatically less car and plane traffic on air pollution like carbon dioxide calls out the obvious – use of eco-friendly options needs to continue to accelerate. I know that I have put “better for the environment” on the list of qualities for the next vehicle I buy, whether electric or hybrid.
Air travel, cruises, and public transportation certainly appear to be big losers in this pandemic. The thought of being crammed together in tight spaces without a vaccine deployed will take a lot of adjustment for people.
Companies are undergoing a full digital transformation, and the demand for highly skilled remote workers will increase. The layoffs that have occurred have created a surge of candidates – those rehired will be the ones with the right skills. As with any major market event like these, companies will be looking for those best educated and able to engage – the rockstars that are out there meaningfully.
The pandemic has shaken the global supply chain – its fragility has been exposed, and we need to build a stronger and smarter solution. Offshoring the majority of US manufacturing to China and other parts of the world has not only proven problematic but a threat to national security and safety. Expect to see big changes in thinking and strategies around this in the near and long run.