Where will we be in six months or a year from now? How will the coronavirus affect the economy, living standards, and social interactions? How many companies will have gone into liquidation, and how many will go bust in the next three months? It seems as though the whole world is standing still.
With the pandemic shutting down the physical reality, the role of digital technology executives has become more critical for the livelihood and sustainability of every organization. People expect the digital world to rise to the challenge and fill the gap. But have companies been ready for that? And most importantly, are they prepared for the post-coronavirus future?
Communicating with hundreds of clients and leads globally, we realize that for many companies, near-term survival is the top of mind priority. Meanwhile, others are getting through the fog of insecurities, figuring out how to market themselves once the emergency is over. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that currently, TEAM’s business continuity planning and professional crisis management services are in great demand.
Admittedly, it’s impossible to predict what will come next, but we can draw valuable insights from the past and begin to plan out the future more confidently.
While it’s too early to fully evaluate the coronavirus impact on business and consumers and to say what the ‘new norm’ will look like, there are several factors that are already shaping the future. With that said, for enterprises that want to thrive, it’s crucial to keep up with them.
When even the WHO says that cash can transmit viruses, the adoption of contactless payment technology gets a big boost among both merchants and buyers. People become hyper cognizant of every surface that could pass diseases, and it’s not about SARS-CoV-2 only. Therefore, they wish to limit what they touch and how often.
Even before the pandemic, we’ve witnessed the rise of contactless payment via mobile phones and wearables. The current predictions also sound rather convincing, as the worldwide contactless payment market size is expected to reach $18 billion by 2025 (as contrasted with $10.3 billion in 2020). Furthermore, today around 2.3 billion people globally use digital wallets, and this number is projected to hit 4 billion by 2024. However, the COVID-19 outbreak has provided a fertile ground for various digital payment services, thus they may gain even more traction in the foreseeable future.
Biometrics and Machine Vision are also among the emerging digital payment trends. These technologies are already used by social media apps, airport security points, and banking applications. Consequently, we may watch for even more machine vision and voice interfaces that will limit physical contact and address several contactless payment security concerns associated with identity theft and fraud.
Virtually overnight, thousands of companies globally had to deal with a myriad of new pressures associated with remote team management, namely licenses and hardware, communication and project management tools, extra collaboration bandwidth and capacity, as well as other issues related to immediate scale and reliability. And what’s important, for many companies working remotely, yielded some dividends and allowed optimizing business operations.
To understand one of the aspects of coronavirus business impact on the future of human resource management, let’s check the numbers. For instance, 74 percent of CFOs are going to switch at least five percent of previously on-site employees to remote work permanently. Twitter and Square have already announced permanent telecommuting. Meanwhile, CEOs of such companies as Mondelez, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide, and Barclays say that they’ll need less real estate in the future and that putting over 7000 workers in one building is already a thing of the past.
Consequently, anytime soon, we expect to see the growing number of companies that allow remote work and the ones open for IT outsourcing and out-staffing. Distributed team management once seemed hard and uncertain, but now becomes ordinary and efficient. Of course, it’s up to management teams to create remote work guidelines and procedures to ensure business continuity and good performance in the long run. When it comes to outsourced IT services, in the case with TEAM International, we take on all the organizational aspects, including but not limited to team hiring and onboarding, signing of the contract and NDA, organization of the workplaces, continuing professional development, healthcare support, and more.
To make sure we’re on the same page, let’s start with a brief definition. Resiliency is also known as business continuity management or planning, and it refers to a company’s ability to instantly adapt to disruptions while ensuring stable business operations and protecting valuable assets, employees, and the entire brand equity. All these elements will be crucial for lasting prosperity. Nevertheless, what makes a firm resilient?
The first element is the ability to reduce operational costs and re-adjust the existing business model to new circumstances, like coronavirus crisis, climatic disturbances, or others. Secondly — vulnerabilities. Amid emergencies, many enterprises find themselves exposed due to supply chains and decentralized part sourcing since too often they can’t get all the components they need. Consequently, investing in resilience (business continuity), management teams also should work on safety and backup plans.
To sum up, companies are going to reimagine their priorities and put a business resilience plan on the same level with efficiency and cost.
In the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, we realize the power of data in real-time. Learning lessons from this experience may empower businesses to better detect and prevent future epidemics by using the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Vision, and Biometrics.
Such software solutions may be used for early warning by identifying and monitoring those who have symptoms of a disease. For instance, Baidu has introduced an AI system that utilizes facial recognition and infrared sensors to check people for fevers at Beijing’s Qinghe Railway Station. Amazon also uses thermal cameras at its warehouses to detect feverish workers faster. So as lockdown constraints begin to ease, governments may start looking to innovative IT products to protect public health. And where there’s demand, there will be supply, right?
It’s worth mentioning that similar efforts require an accurate and thoughtful implementation to protect individuals’ privacy and eliminate the possibility of data abuse.
Finally, when it comes to the most significant impact of coronavirus on economy, we venture to suggest that it relates to the digitization of businesses and the rise of the contactless economy. Self-isolation one on one with the Internet has done their work. Among the most promising segments are:
Telemedicine: Telehealth services have been around for a few years now, but they haven’t obtained ultimate support from patients and healthcare providers. However, the current need for virtual wellness and healthcare advice amid the pandemic is boosting the adoption. Additionally, the US government has temporarily eased HIPAA privacy rules for healthcare providers that use telehealth solutions for diagnosis or treatment of their patients.
For instance, Teladoc Health — the largest telehealth platform provider in the United States — has witnessed unprecedented growth due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, the company holds over 20000 online medical consultations per day, demonstrating more than a 100-percent increase as compared to early March. Meanwhile, KRY International — one of the biggest telehealth companies in Europe — reported that the number of registrations for its services increased by 200 percent. Considering the above and the fact that top health officials warn of the second wave, telehealth app development is expected to gain much traction shortly.
E-Commerce: Online shopping has already been eating into the popularity and sales of physical stores, but coronavirus has pushed on the shift from offline to online and forced the changes in buying patterns. The announcement about COVID-19 pandemic increased digital commerce by 20 percent, and the number of unique online shoppers surpassed 1 billion globally. In April, US online shops registered a 49-percent growth in sales, headed by online grocery (a 110-percent jump in daily deals).
Admittedly, social distancing gives rise to new developments in the online shopping sector, like automated commerce (a-commerce), shop-streaming, and contact-free delivery with drones or robots. For businesses that want to stay competitive after COVID-19, it’s critical to enhance online services, streamline logistics, and improve delivery to easily adapt to ever-changing customer preferences or live through future emergencies.
It’s a given that the coronavirus crisis is taxing our systems, governments, and patience. However, it’s also highlighting gaps, forcing companies to build customer-centered IT products, leverage emerging technologies, and become more mature and resilient for future emergencies. We’re definitely living in exciting times, and in the long run, we all notice the changes in how we work, how we interact with others, how our cities run, how we choose technologies and infrastructures for our systems, and even much more that we can hardly imagine now.