With COVID-19, we’ve gotten familiar with shelter-in-place, social distancing, quarantine, sanitizing everything, essential errands only, and contactless delivery — terms that will, no doubt, become part of our novel Coronavirus lexicon.
To counter the carnage, slogans like “We’re all in this together” are born and communities rally around them. While offering hope and comfort to those affected by the virus, businesses must realize that it will take more than slogans to successfully reopen and attempt to normalize operations. Along with government aid, the use of technology and innovation will determine business winners and losers.
A New Normal?
As we come out of survival mode, there are a lot of decisions to be made. Businesses that most quickly adapt to a new environment and prove successful will likely need to implement additional technology along with on-the-fly innovation.
In the past, the shift to digital may have been considered unneeded, fraught with risk or simply too complicated. People effectively working from home and shopping online for everyday essentials, during the crisis, have proven technology naysayers wrong. Instead of an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, we need one that states, “Never stop innovating”.
Technology and Innovation at Work
To meet customer shelter-in-place needs, Panera Bread has just added produce, bread and other pantry staples to its pickup-and-delivery menus. To offer the expanded service, the company is leveraging its enormous supply chain and network of its own team of delivery drivers along with those of Grubhub to provide contactless delivery.
Due to Coronavirus outbreak restrictions, Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, located in San Francisco and Los Angeles, was forced to close due to having 60 of its wholesale customers cancel orders indefinitely. With no experience in eCommerce, the firm’s owner quickly revamped operations, along with the company’s website, to offer customers bake-at-home starter kits for its most popular products.
Kitchen-and-Bath (K&B) retailers, that require showing their products in vignettes within Coronavirus-closed retail locations, might suggest that clients take advantage of an in-home immersive virtual reality (VR) service to show different product options in different layouts.
More than ever our social existence and livelihood depend on our network carriers. Along with supporting our video-conferencing needs and streaming regular content, telecom companies like Verizon will start supporting real-time gaming and streaming of VR content over the 5G edge.
According to an AMA study from about a year ago, a little more than 15 percent of physicians worked in a practice that used telemedicine to interact with patients. COVID-19-spurredsocial distancing along with overwhelmed hospitals have become the catalyst for telemedicine.
With many countries around the world experiencing Coronavirus lockdown, the future of the fashion industry looks unclear. Worker and customer isolation are breaking down existing systems, requiring industry insiders to focus on experimentation with immersive technologies including how to create virtual clothing, virtual catwalks, and virtual showrooms.
As we come out of survival mode, do we go back to our long commutes or work from home? Do we go to grocery stores or continue using services like Instacart? Do we go to movie theaters or continue to stream on Netflix? Do we go back to see our doctors in person or leverage telemedicine? Do we send our kids back to school or continue to support them in e-learning? (I think we all know the answer to this one.)
What we’ve learned from past upheavals, for example, 9/11 and the global financial crisis of 2008, is that these events tend to amplify trends that are already in place. This pandemic will only accelerate our quest to develop innovative solutions and think of ways to adapt our business models to shifting paradigms.
Things Businesses Need to Focus on to Prepare for Post COVID-19
· Look at this as a time to boost brand awareness — increase use of social and streaming media
· Identify opportunities to further digitize the supply chain
· Leverage data analytics to identify changing market needs and trends
· Reorganize and train staff to cover on-the-fly changes to the business model