The COVID-19 outbreak is the most formidable challenge that the human race has faced in decades. In a short span, the global pandemic has crashed the course of growth for different industries and has crippled business plans on an unprecedented level. While most organizations have a business continuity plan in place that is intended to continue effective operations in case of natural calamities, power outages, and cyberattacks, these contingency plans are not resilient enough to address the unfamiliar variables of a global health emergency like COVID-19.
Nevertheless, the pandemic has not hampered the innovation, in fact, the saying “necessity is the mother of invention” is truer than ever in these testing times. There’s no denying the upsetting health and economic effect of the coronavirus crisis, however, it has also clearly amplified the adoption of digital transformation and showcased some brilliant possibilities using some of the latest technology to sustain and enhance businesses.
Among all the uncertainties, one thing is certain; we are not going back to the ‘old normal’ anytime soon. The outbreak has pushed companies to redefine their version of the ‘new normal’ and start their digital transformation journey, which can open the gates to many new opportunities.
Let’s deep-dive into how different industry verticals will be leveraging technology to grow their business post-COVID-19:
Banking and Financial Services
With contactless payment and branchless banking, the banking and finance sector has been moving towards digital for a long time. But, with social distancing norms in place, fintech will finally get to demonstrate its capabilities and built trust among consumers as they start relying on applications with their finances.
Contactless payment technology has been around for a few years now. Some of the leading smartphone manufacturers have been adding the option of virtual wallets in their smartphones since 2014. Now that social distancing has become the norm, more and more people are switching to digital payment options that are secure and do not require any physical contact. With increasing demand among customers, departmental stores, food takeaway joints, and other businesses that are selling essential goods have added contactless payment options into their point-of-sale (POS) systems.
By switching to branchless banking, there would be lesser investment in brick-and-mortar banks as well as the bank staff, which money can rather be invested to acquire new customers and deliver better customer experience. With stay-at-home orders around the globe, consumers are less likely to visit their bank branch, especially when they can manage all of their finances with a few clicks on their smart devices. Many startups have introduced the customers to digital-first banking, intending to completely replace the brick-and-mortar financial institutions. In such a scenario, to stay relevant, existing banking players will need to cope with the current demand and move to digital banking solutions.
Food and Grocery Delivery
As a large share of the population is staying home due to the coronavirus outbreak, a massive surge has been observed in the demand for food delivery services. Considering the situation, home delivery of food is a lot safer option than dining-in at a restaurant. Consumers are relying on contactless delivery options provided by businesses including UberEats, JustEat, Grubhub, Deliveroo, and Postmates to satisfy their cravings during this phase of social distancing. Additionally, Deliveroo and UberEats have also started delivering groceries as well as hygiene by partnering with various convenience stores and supermarkets.
Ghost kitchens, also known as virtual kitchens or cloud kitchens, are spaces that allow restaurants to cook meals solely for food delivery. As plenty of restaurants have stopped operating during the lockdown, the cloud kitchen seems to be the best bet for restaurants.
According to CNBC, “C3, the ghost kitchen subsidiary of hospitality company SBE Entertainment Group, has seen demand for its virtual restaurant brands double during the coronavirus pandemic; the company plans to hire 1,000 employees and is leasing shuttered restaurants to meet demand for its food”.
As the profits decline for restaurants and food service providers, they are likely to keep the costs at a minimum to ensure smooth operations. Ghost kitchens are a promising option for restaurants to benefit from the increasing demand for food delivery while keeping the overheads low.
The epidemic has significantly disrupted the education sector, impacting almost 1.6 billion students across all the continents in more than 190 countries. As the education centers including schools shutdown after COVID-19, it has affected 94% of the overall student population in the world. As a result, digital alternatives to the classroom are embraced, implicating a rapid growth of the EdTech industry.
Remote Learning Technology
Over the past decade, several online learning platforms have surfaced, however, they were never considered as a replacement to educational infrastructures, until now.
In these difficult times, classrooms are forced to go online instantaneously. However, the transition came with its own set of challenges such as lack of tech literacy and inadequate access for schools, teachers, as well as students. Many EdTech companies and even the tech giants contributed to making this transition smoother, by providing constant support and guidance when it comes to using remote learning technology.
Over the past decade, several online learning platforms have surfaced, however, the rate of enrollments has soared post-COVID-19, as the economy takes a downturn. To sustain in this tough job market, professionals are constantly looking for courses to brush up their skills and that’s when online learning platforms come in. Globally renowned platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, Academia, and Duolingo among others are providing courses and certifications to learners as they finish their online courses after watching tutorial videos and taking up tests on their platform.
Students will return to classrooms, once the coronavirus passes, but online courses and content will forever change the way we learn and teach. Online content will offer more options to the students to choose from as well as the flexibility to learn at their convenience.
COVID-19 has resulted in a major disruption in the manufacturing sector, as it has brought a shortage of material due to the impeded supply chain and unavailability of human labor. Production lines are forced to halt and manufacturers had to stop the operations as lockdown was imposed across most of the countries.
The Internet of Things and robotics played a major role in expanding the implementation of industrial automation even before the pandemic. In a situation when coronavirus is an unavoidable threat, companies faced the dilemma to choose between shutting down their assembly lines and incur a major loss, or resume the operations and put their employees at risk. In this case, industrial automation surged as the preferable option. Industrial automation and robotics can help manufacturers to partially or fully automate their assembly lines, thus enabling them to continue operations. Even when the threat of COVID-19 recedes, once a company switches to industrial automation for their production, they are in it for the long haul.
The COVID-19 crisis has raised a set of unique challenges for not just businesses but individuals as well. While we all are finding ways to cope with the current situation, we also hope all of us will emerge stronger, once this settles down. This crisis might act as a catalyst for our creativity and innovation.
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