The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over but amid the uncertainty and stress, the economy is shifting from crisis mode to recovery. Its impact has been enormous. However, for some businesses, this is a time to seize new opportunities for the future and make bold changes for a new — and better — normal.
The coronavirus pandemic is a dark moment in human history — a sad, serious time when fear and uncertainty seem to persist, even as economies around the world begin to open up. Yet, despite the obvious dark side of the pandemic, there are some possible upsides to be found.
In the following four different verticals, post-COVID innovation is already underway as companies gain new perspectives to shift gears and rethink how they serve their customers.
Take a look at this: How the new “normal” life would be after Covid-19
Digital transformation in healthcare has accelerated rapidly during the pandemic. The increase in video visits with providers in the healthcare system allowed patients to continue to receive healthcare without putting themselves or their providers in danger of contracting the coronavirus.
Telehealth existed before COVID-19 came along but the crisis propelled its use forward to unprecedented adoption numbers. The remote delivery of health services using telecommunications solutions was supported by governments and, in the United States, private health insurers have made changes to policies to allow for more widespread access. As a result, the volume of telehealth claims increased by 4346.94% when comparing March 2020 claims to the number of claims a year ago.
Other areas of opportunity in healthcare include:
- A larger role for IoT devices that send real-time health data from patients to their doctors
- A push to increase Electronic Healthcare Records (EHR) interoperability by adopting web-based standards that are readily available and open
- Preparing healthcare professionals for the digital era, in a connected world, to embrace technology and the tools that help them do their jobs better
- Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and analytics to provide data-driven healthcare
According to Statista, the market value for the global telemedicine market has been continuously growing from $18.1 billion in 2015 to $30.5 billion as of 2019. The market is forecast to expand to $35.5 billion in 2020 and to $41.2 billion next year.
Fintech companies are responding to unique challenges during the pandemic. Access to funding was already slowing down, rate cuts are disrupting core strategies, and the worsening economy has forced many to reconsider their business models.
Fortunately, many fintech companies are equipped with unique skills that will help them adjust and survive so that they can seize the opportunities that await them in a post-pandemic world. Social distancing has crushed business in other industries but fintechs were already prepared to offer digital financial services.
Lending fintechs have played a role in helping small businesses secure loans offered as economic relief during the pandemic. As such, there are opportunities to develop deeper relationships with these customers, as well as existing loan customers who ask for relief because of the pandemic. Lenders are also taking the opportunity to tighten up their standards for underwriting loans, as a hedge against financial loss but also for a better product.
Other opportunities include:
- Reaching out to the under-banked
- Helping to disburse other types of government aid
- Developing electronic payment systems as an alternative to cash, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has said may be a transmitter of COVID-19
- Forming new partnerships in the gig economy to increase innovation and develop new tools and services.
Retail is one of the businesses that has been severely impacted by COVID-19, perhaps more so than any other industry. But the impact has been both negative and positive, which is clearly evident by the number of retailers who have already made sweeping changes as a result of the pandemic.
Grocers and e-commerce marketplaces provided continual service to customers who were following stay-at-home orders. Many made overnight changes in order to do so — adding curbside pickup, partnering with grocery delivery services like Instacart, and beefing up their e-commerce presence by updating their websites and converting employees from the sales floor to the computer to run online sales.
Fashion retailers have responded in full force as well, with top brands making dramatic announcements: this might be the end of the fashion show and all the fanfare that goes with them. In fact, many clothing retailers are rethinking their business model, which emphasizes seasonal changes and a constant cycling in and out of trends, resulting in an unsustainable system that is bad for the environment and which relies on underpaid workers around the globe.
From both environmental and social perspectives, retail, in general, has much opportunity to seize. Global supply chains can be re-thought, perhaps becoming more localized. As a result, shipping and logistics costs can be reduced, while carbon footprints can shrink. Digital sales channels can be developed, while the sprawl of physical stores can be reduced.
4. Media and Telecommunications
During lockdown, video streaming service Netflix added almost 16 million new subscribers in the first three months of 2020. As a media service that is available to people at home, Netflix and other streaming services like Amazon Prime were uniquely positioned to experience growth during the lockdown. The opportunity does not end with the reopening of economies and the lifting of stay-at-home orders, however. Retaining their members will depend on delivery of excellent programming, superior customer service, and attractive features and pricing plans.
This may be causing a demand for internet bandwidth improvements in households, which will cause a ripple effect of other benefits. Better internet in homes means kids will have access to better remote learning experiences, for example. Remote workers will have better live video meetings with their co-workers. There may be a stronger push for 5G, which will benefit rural areas, which have traditionally struggled to provide widespread internet access to private homes.
Other future opportunities lay in some of the present modifications Netflix has had to make, such as hiring thousands of remote workers to handle customer support, may remain even after business resumes normal patterns after lockdowns end. Many of their production units have learned to work remotely — including the animation production team, which is located in Los Angeles. In the congestion and smog of LA, remote work is always a plus.
Movie houses have had to shut down but for those that will survive, there are opportunities for innovation that will provide a better customer experience: better seating, better concession items, and creative solutions to social distancing that make the movie experience that much nicer.
Do not miss this reading: Digitalization in pandemic times: is nearshoring the new call of globalization?
to sum up
For companies that are poised and willing to seek out opportunities, this point in time could become a defining moment — a pivotal point when leadership can tune in, take stock, and seize the moment to restructure, reorganize, repurpose, and/or revise their businesses for a better, “new normal”.
We are all looking forward to watching these exciting opportunities come to life as our partners in business emerge, thrive, and grow.
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