How has the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated ideas and processes we thought would take years to implement?

Virtually overnight, businesses around the world have adapted their businesses to offer digital solutions, work remotely and maximise the use of technology. So, what does this acceleration mean, and which industries will it impact the most? Sukhi Jutla offers some tips to those entering this new world, especially when they have just graduated from Business School

The rise of the ‘digital-first’ economy

The new normal will see make many of us becoming ‘digital first’. This means we will now expect almost every product or service to be offered in a digital way in the first instance. This is a real possibility especially since the pandemic showed us that almost overnight, we were able to adapt our current offerings into a digital package. This has shown us that the vast majority of processes can be digitised if we are willing to think in creative and innovative ways. Just a few examples show how enterprising humans can be with many hairdressers switching to online consultations for hair colouring and trimming fringes as well as personal trainers sharing work out regimes on YouTube for in-home gym sessions.

Fintech and banking

With banks closed, it became apparent that there were still huge amounts of people still heavily reliant on cash. We will now see more people adopting online and mobile banking (if at the very least to not be caught short on cash if they can’t get to a bank to do their banking errands).

We will see FinTechs flourish and capture more of the market. FinTechs are innovative and more crucially, have been designed as ‘digital first’ experiences with many offering banking services only via their mobile apps.

It will become more common to have more than one bank account and we will see more people using different FinTechs to serve niche financial needs as we see more specialisation occur in the market. This will lead to more transparency in the financial markets over time as well as a demand for more software engineers and programmers.

Banks are run by bankers and FinTechs are run by programmers. Over the long term, we will see FinTechs capture more market share and consumers because they are closer to the data and can quickly personalise to consumer needs.

For example, during the pandemic, my traditional bank’s online system failed multiple times yet my other FinTech bank account worked seamlessly and was easy to access. They also provide much more such as free budgeting tools to help you manage your finances, which will become increasingly important as it’s likely we enter a period of recession and see mass unemployment and the need to conserve and manage limited cash reserves as best as possible.

Cybersecurity

With ‘digital first’ offerings exploding, we will also see a huge rise in cybercrime and subsequently a growing cybersecurity industry. Consumers will become more vigilant about protecting passwords and understanding how to protect themselves online. We will see this sector grow with more products and services coming to market to protect your in-home and on the go devices such as mobiles and tablets.

Healthcare goes digital

Even with industries which traditionally appear to not have a digital element, no greater change has been seen than in the healthcare sector. This industry is notoriously slow to adopt new processes with a lot of bureaucratic red tape. But with more people going digital and generating masses of data, this sector can really improve their offerings.

For example, it often takes weeks to get an appointment with your doctor, but during lockdown I found I was able to book a slot within 48 hours for a consultation over the phone. My phone appointment was on time (compared to in-person appointments which are often delayed by up to 30 minutes) and my prescription was emailed to the closest pharmacy. Within 24 hours I received a text message from the pharmacy telling me when my items were available for collection – all without me leaving home and more crucially, saving me time to spend on something more useful than sitting in a doctor’s waiting room.

We will also see more personal devices being bought to monitor our health and this data will give rise to a generation more in tune with their health, which could ease the pressure of the healthcare systems on the long term. Think about connected clothing (clothing with embedded smart chips) that can monitor your heart rate and use machine learning and artificial intelligence to ‘predict’ if you may be having a heart attack within the next hour, which then automatically logs a call with your doctor and arranges an ambulance from your closest hospital.

Remote working, no longer a taboo

We are now seeing more businesses become ‘remote worker first’, which is the only solution and way forward in the digital world we live in. Good talent is to be found everywhere and remote workers can help businesses get the right skills they need without being confined to a geographical location.

Businesses are also recognising the huge savings they can make on rent and unnecessary office space. With no need to go to an office, you also free up hours of time (and pressure) on the transport system.

Remote workers will no longer be seen as ‘lazy’ or only reserved for those who want a better lifestyle balance. It will become the norm to request remote hours that work best for both the business and the employee.

Supply chains become digital and localised

Retail has undoubtedly had to undergo a very fast adaption process to sell their products online. Those who could not adapt have fallen by the wayside and it’s clear to see that the future of retail will become increasingly online.

Most importantly we will see supply chains become more localised with more packages being transported by road and rail (less risk compared to sea and air cargo). Most supply chains and logistics are old and antiquated with little innovation and low levels of technological processes. We will now see a boom in this industry and a rise in businesses fighting to deliver packages faster, cheaper, quicker and more carbon efficiently.

The rise of the entrepreneur generation

So, where does this leave us? With a recession around the corner and potential mass unemployment, we will now see a crop of new future leaders and entrepreneurs if they can adapt to this new normal.

This leaves us with a world where humans will now have more time to do the work that matters. Work that humans were designed for. We can outsource pretty much anything to computers and robots… with the exceptions of the core skills unique to a human being – the ability to be creative.

With more people getting online than ever before, increasing awareness of seeing that the world, in large parts, can work on a digital-only basis, this will open up more opportunities for people who want to enter entrepreneurship as a career. We will see a rise of more micro-businesses exploding, ‘lifestyle entrepreneurs’ who want greater control over their time and life and more niche and specialised services coming to market as people start to look at what they can offer of value and create a business around this.

Sukhi Jutla is Co-Founder & COO at MarketOrders

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