I’ve already shared with you my hopes for a better world. But I have also been thinking about how the coronavirus is affecting/will affect all kinds of industries. At the moment we have no idea how much longer this crisis will last and we don’t know when the extreme measures governments have taken will end. While I hope this will all be over soon, the reality is, we could be looking at months. This means we need to adapt, especially businesses. I’ve been ruminating on how things are going to change over the past couple of weeks so I wanted to list out some of my predictions, in no particular order.
1) We will do everything online
Yes I know, online shopping is a big thing and we are all addicted to our phones and we’ve already got e-banking, e-learning and e-everything. But believe it or not, we actually still do most things offline. As of 2019, only 13.76% of all shopping sales were done online. This will change drastically. We are creatures of habit and thanks to the coronavirus, we now have months on end of having to do almost everything online. Why would we go back? Some of us will. Many won’t. Fitness, shopping, working, learning, conferencing, sourcing, teaching, recruiting, interviewing, property viewing, attending concerts – we can do all this online. And we will.
2) All businesses will transition to offering e-solutions
Everything is going to be offered online, and I mean everything. Businesses that previously only offered in-person services and/or physical options will either create virtual offerings or they will transition online completely. Telemedicine, aka virtual doctor consultations, will become commonplace for example. Looking for a new home? You will be apartment hunting online. If you thought you did most things online before, just wait for what’s to come.
3) The restaurant business will completely change
While the F&B industry has always weathered market ups and downs, the coronavirus is a heretofore unrivalled disruption to their way of doing business. No one could have predicted a world where billions of people are no longer able to go to restaurants by government order. Or that serving your customers puts your servers and staff at serious risk for their health. Nimble/innovative operators across the world have already pivoted by introducing takeout menus, frozen ready-meals, prepped food boxes, selling groceries, introducing snacks and condiments, collaborations with other restaurants (e.g. discounts if you dine with all participating eateries), offering online cooking classes, I fully believe that this will not stop post-corona. Restaurants will do everything they can to majorly diversify their revenue streams from now on, so that should this ever happen again, they will be prepared.
4) All businesses now need a content strategy
Content is king, or as I prefer to say, content is queen. When your customers are stuck at home and not able to use your services/visit your establishments/interact with you physically, you need to be able to offer them engaging content so they stay connected to your brand. So many companies are finding out how important this is right now. Doesn’t matter if you are recruiter or you make industrial parts, you need to offer your audience (clients/customers) content that matters to them, be that videos, articles, guides, industry news or resources.
5) Expect AR to flourish
For a long time, I’ve wondered why we haven’t done more with Augmented Reality (AR), especially when it comes to retail/shopping. To be honest, given all the tech innovation in recent decades, shopping online is still woefully lacking IMHO as compared to shopping in person. Particularly when it comes to discovery, or browsing as the industry terms it. I believe this will change now.
6) VR too
I’ve also wondered why no one has taken the gaming experience and translated it into a business-friendly environment. Sure Zoom is fine I guess. But surely we can do better? More immersive virtual meeting/conferences are coming to you I reckon. We also need more Virtual Reality (VR) activities/experiences in case Corona Part 2 comes to haunt us. I’m thinking VR travel is about to take off (!) and get ready for virtual concerts, gigs and theatrical performances.
7) Digital goods will multiply
I fully expect to see lots of businesses creating digital or virtual goods. This crisis has show retailers they need to have options for people who either don’t want to shop for things (because they are worrying about survival) or can’t get goods delivered to them. Retailers are scrambling to find revenue streams that are non-physical. This should be exciting.
8) Bandwidth boost or the race for faster internet
Feel like the Wifi at home is slower than usual? Or are you in Europe and Netflix has slowed down your bandwidth? Yup, when the whole world goes online (or at least a few billion users), you really start to realize the importance of fast internet access. Before the next pandemic forces us all to stay home indefinitely, you can be sure that governments and telecom providers are going to be working overtime to make sure that improve infrastructure everywhere. Also, the official battle for 5G starts now. The next epidemic may just be sponsored by Huawei.
9) Supply chain diversification
If there’s one thing this crisis has underlined, it’s how much we rely on China to make just about everything, from auto parts to medical equipment to clothes. Companies are dealing with huge disruptions to their supply chains because of the virus spread, and since China experienced the pandemic first, global supply chains were disrupted almost from day one of the country’s lockdown. Pretty much anyone in the business of making things is looking at how to diversify their production lines, so expect new countries (I’m looking at you, Vietnam) to emerge as manufacturing hubs.
10) Doubling down on the green economy
When the **** hits the fan, global leaders have to take a good, long and painful look in the mirror. One of the consequences of everyone reassessing everything is a renewed understanding of the importance of transitioning to a greener economy. Some people point to the theory that the virus originated in a wet market known for its underground exotic animal trade, a symptom of our broken global food system and our messed up relationship with the non-human beings that live on this planet. No doubt, change is coming in the form of reducing our dependence on animal protein. As production output has slowed, it’s also been easier to breathe across the planet. That’s got health officials thinking about making long term changes to keep air pollution levels down. Just two of the countless ways this crisis has brought about a shift towards a more sustainable outlook. I expect a great deal more to come.
Lead image courtesy of Sky News.