Hey all! At the start of 2020, none of us would have predicted the situation we are currently going through. But like in late June, more of us are starting to look at life would be in the coming months and years ahead. Most of us even know that the question isn’t that when would things get back to normal, but what will the new normal look like. And that’s the question I would look at today. Specifically, what impact it would have on big companies because what big companies do it affects all of us. Maybe we work for them, but even if we don’t, we buy their products and use their services. When an entire sector grinds to a halt, it disrupts the way we go about our lives. But there is another side of the coin too. A big company comes up with a new technology or a new paradigm. This brings fresh opportunities to our lives and changes them for the better.
So, let us look at the positive and undersigned negative that are already underway. Predictions might play out, how the pandemic is affecting big companies and what does it mean for you.
Downsizing offices and remote working
More people are now working from home. And once this crisis is over, it is highly unlikely that things will go back to what they were once before. We have seen how much we get done from home. So do we still want to go back to long commutes and dull workspaces? And why would companies want to reduce their most significant overheads, that’s rent!! Yes, it seems the future of the workplace will be more at home. True, that some people find it at home with the distractions in their living rooms. More co-working spaces could be a solution. For big companies, offices will still exist but will be scaled down. And in some smaller companies, might abandon them altogether. Having a head office would seem like a company status symbol than a necessity.
The race to develop video-conferencing tools
Raise your hands if you are used to seeing your colleagues on a rectangular screen on Skype, Google hangouts or 2020’s biggest winner Zoom. In fact, raise your hand if you use zoom daily, but hadn’t even heard about it in January. If offices get downgraded, video communications are here to stay. But having said that every video conferencing app has its flaws. Look at the number of security breaches zoom has been criticized for. And if your video conferencing group doesn’t use apple, then Facetime is a no go! Video conferencing may not be new, but with the change happening ever before, the race is on that which company will emerge as a big winner. Just see what happened here in India recently where companies were to send proposals for government teleconferencing system. Over 1900+ companies sent offers. Competition is fierce and no surprise that the latest entry is from Facebook who just launched its own video conferencing app- Messenger rooms. Precisely who will come out to be a winner is impossible to predict, but what’s sure is that video conferencing will continue to take significant strides forward.
Quicker adoption of 5G
Forget about what conspiracy theorists say about it. Still, the pandemic shows that we really need a fix for frozen screens, delays and bad connections. And 5G offers the lightning-fast speed that can do this. Sure 5G was on the way anyway, but now it is coming even faster and the company that is best placed to benefit from it China’s Huawei because of the advances it has made with 5G. Ericsson and Nokia in 2nd and 3rdplace.
If you are still working from a shared workplace, you probably are used to it by now. And you will also be aware of it if you were on a flight or a shopping mall since the start of the crisis. In the USA Amazon, Walmart and Starbucks are using digital non-contact thermometers to check workers temperatures. And airlines and malls use it on their customers too. With nobody able to predict when a vaccine will become available, this isn’t going to change for a while. And of course, it also provides opportunities for those companies which manufacture digital thermometers, or even low-tech ones like facemasks which have now become part of our daily lives.
Less business travel and less travel for the time being
It’s hard to see a sector suffering more than the travel industry. Of course, people will still want to travel for leisure. But for a while, probably not in big numbers and the rise in video conferencing means business travel like big offices is due for a severe downsizing. Airlines are asking governments for bailouts, and their fortune is unlikely to change until a vaccine comes out or treatments that can keep the virus in check or developed. In aviation, social distancing isn’t really significant for the bottom line. It could mean a rise in airfares and goodbye to budget travel for a while. The outlook is definitely on the wild side, and some industry insiders say it may take a whole decade for the aviation to get back to where it used to be.
Big wins for pharmaceuticals
If airlines have pulled the short straw in the pandemic, it looks like the pharmaceutical companies are definitely sitting pretty. Most pharmaceutical companies have ramped up productions, and many of them have been receiving goodwill for donations they have been making. Donations that include facemasks, chloroquine tabletsor free medical consultations. Pharma has also seen gains since the start of the crisis, and their figures are likely to stay positive well until the future. As we continue to need treatment, tests and medical equipment. And when one of these companies finally develops a vaccine that will help us get back together, the reward would be huge.
A step forward for A.I. and robots
For decades algorithms and robots have been taking over jobs which humans used to do. In factories its been happening for a long time. And in other areas its been a work in progress like with advancements in driverless cars. But it looks like robots have got a massive boost with the advantage it has gained over humans in the pandemic. Yes, you got it! They can’t catch viruses at least not this kind. Robots are being used to take temperatures and blood pressure readings from patients. They have also been used to deliver food in the quarantine. They could even become solutions to sectors that have to reduce staff and now are in trouble, like in retail and catering. Drone waiters already existed pre-pandemic as did robots assemble burgers, mixed salads and cappuccinos. They weren’t just that common but now can provide a solution. Now algorithms have been giving shopping assistance for a long time buy suggesting purchases when customers shop online. And with online shopping happening more than ever, they will do this even more. But what does it mean for staff that have been laid off? The picture for them isn’t so great but in the long term would require retraining and upskill for the jobs that add value for the jobs that robots can’t do.
A move of manufacturing away from china
The one thing pandemic has revealed how vulnerable global supply chains are. Especially the ones which are concentrated in one country, and the first country that happens to be affected by the virus just happens to be nicknamed “the factory of the world.” There are already firms that have decided to move some form of production away from China. Like Apple, who plans to move some of their factories to India and Vietnam, but there are limits to how much this can happen. And that’s because china’s supply chain has become so developed that it will take decades to build them elsewhere. China won’t stop becoming the world’s biggest manufacturer anytime soon. But some businesses will relocate. Even if it doesn’t shake up the Chinese economy that much, but it does mean significant gains for medium-sized economies like Poland when production shifts there.
Manufacturing medical supplies closer to home
If there is one industry which is critical to have for countries near to their populations that is essential supplies dealing with an emergency. And we are not talking about medicines only but also medical supplies like facemasks. Just take a look at Japan where the government announced financial support to move out of China when the crisis began. And the first company on their list was the maker of facemasks. We see the same happening for pharmaceuticals too. China and India are currently the world’s biggest manufacturer of medicines. And we can see how risky it is when the supply chains for essential medicines are disrupted. That’s why in France pharmaceutical companies and political leaders recently agreed that they need to bring more production home to France or at the very least closer to homes to neighbouring European countries.
More advanced delivery services
We made orders online even before the pandemic, it’s just that now we are doing it more than ever and we are kind to get used to it. And it enjoying the time that saves us from trips to the shops and long queues in billing counters. So, its no surprise that Amazon is coming out substantial making gains in the stock market in the first quarter of 2020 and their orders shot up so much that they had to recruit 175000 more staff members. It is natural that they will want to upgrade their delivery systems too, and this upgrade could come in the form of drones. Amazon is looking for drone deliveries for a while now. And there are signs that this pandemic can make this reality a little faster. There drone delivery unit Prime Air just announced their hiring of former Boeing executive to head it. And how do industry insiders interpret this? They think Amazon is speeding up the move to drone delivery and it also looks like they have got competition. Package delivering company UPS has also announced there working on a drone fleet too. All of which is just an example of how the pandemic will take us one step closer to the future.
In these challenging times, it’s essential to stay positive, which makes me ask you a question about which point above has the most potential to bring change for good? Let me know in the comments.
And with every crisis comes opportunity and the biggest one of all I saved it for the last. The lockdown has already cut on global emissions of greenhouse gases because of reduced traffic on land and in air. Over the years, you must have heard about the hole in the ozone layer, making a recovery. But once the pandemic is over, we will still be facing a climate crisis. And it seems that we haven’t forgotten that. 71% of people polled around the world that no matter how dangerous COVID-19 maybe, climate change is still a more serious problem. But there is a potential to come out of it with greener solutions. We all see the benefits of lower traffic in our streets. Cities like Paris and Milan have already announced plans for more cycleways. The European Union which will soon have its task of bailing out some of its biggest industries is already thinking of bailing out those companies depending upon they switching to more sustainable and green energy. Correctly how this will play out is impossible to say. Nobody can predict that if one positive outcome that this pandemic will have paves the way for governments and big companies become greener—however, potential and desire for this to happen to exist.