Michael Goetzman

Turbocharged trends amid Covid-19

Obviously, the world has changed with the arrival of Covid-19. The new-normal replaced routine activities, but how? I wanted to explore how areas are shifting: increasing, declining, and overall amplifying pre-pandemic trends. Activities once regular and often taken for granted are now considered significant and valuable today. My research begins with a question “What am I unaware of?” Every sector of life is experience volatility and attempting readjustments to adapt to these awkward conditions.

In all this, the element of chaos has risen to the peak and waves of peaks. We have a lot to consider and each moment shifts those considerations, so consider this a snapshot of today’s date. Many people are facing immense difficulties in aligning themselves with the changing situations. However, it is possible as human beings to adapt to Covid-19’s situations long-term.

This post dives in and describes the significant “turbocharged trends” and what that means for us, help us through this time, and adjust society going forward. So, without further ado, let us dive in.

Retail Businesses

Retail was already struggling. Business workflows and methodologies have faced an immense shift with Amazon eating their cake. Add the elements of COVID-19 to the mix and this trend gets turbocharged. The businesses that were once considered not too efficient are now serving as one of the main pillars of businesses failing.

Fall of office spaces and commercial buildings:

This one hits close to home for me, as I worked in commercial real estate. Brokers are greedy and full of shady deals such as valuations of real property values. Add COVID-19, when social distancing becomes a concern, and suddenly their pushes for librarying works and open spaces falls on its face. Even the norm of having business meetings and proceedings in offices has been avoided to a great extent. Almost all of the commercial white-collar businesses have either adopted the strategy of working from home or calling a few of the major employees to office spaces and allowing the rest to work from home; carrying out the activities on online platforms completely.

How do we adapt?


Ecommerce:

Ecommerce is the practical and most actionable methods of keeping the routine functionalities of life going yet maintaining distance from others. Gaining the access to people’s needs and wants of products coming straight at you to your doorsteps. Online shopping has formed the basis of ease for many individuals and saved them from possible infections struggling through large, crowded spaces. However, it holds issues for those who are not comfortable with the idea of online shopping, we want to call them “dinosaurs”. For them, the “dinosaurs”, the solution could be to reach out to the stores directly who are offering their services via a “telephone”. Should we be this harsh? No. honestly, we have third-world internet connectivity that costs a fortune. We can’t expect everyone to have this ability. We need to adapt to high-speed interest connectivity as a RIGHT, not a luxury.

Direct-to-consumer brands:

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are much more common nowadays as it was a few years ago. It is one of the effective methods to cut out middlemen. It allows the customers to request goods straight from the source and gain help from brands directly without delays. DTC is a significant shift for both consumers and businesses alike. More room for flexibility and profits, while allowing businesses to set themselves apart from other brands with customer service. Will individual organizations be able to capture data from their customers directly to allow them to merge into new markets?

Better online customer experiences:

Before Covid-19, very few businesses were investing a portion of their investment in the improvement of the online experience for their customers. They stuck with their bread and butter for profits. However, due to the virus, businesses were required to innovate and adapt to stay alive and pivoted significant attention towards digitization, providing their customers with a smooth and surreal online experience. I morbidly joke, it wasn’t the CEO, wasn’t the CTO, it was the C-OVID, that pushed innovation.

Monitoring of shopping habits:

Despite the fact that majority of shopping experiences have moved to online platforms, it is still necessary for customers to monitor their shopping habits. Online shopping without monitoring prices and delivery times can lead wasted cash. In addition, uncontrollable addiction of buying items as you can easily click the ‘buy it now’ button, making the whole process guilt-free. I predict more third-party plugins such as Chrome’s ‘camel camel camel’/camelizer will become more popular.

Manufacturing

Since the beginning of Covid-19 the fight between China and United States manufacturing was turbocharged. China serves as the major portion of the world's manufacturing industries, taking the rest of the world’s intellectual property and applying it hands-on with cheap labor. Add the virus and both countries’ lockdowns caused immense consequences and it became clear two styles emerged. United States ideals, politics, and culture allowed partial functioning factories however the virus was able to claim many deaths. China came in forcefully and strong and locked down regions, this allowed them to climb out of lockdowns faster and run at full force. Nevertheless, The virus led to a drastic decline in this industry of the world, with China’s forcefulness able to capture market share.

According to Cision PR Newswire:

As per the estimation by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the COVID-19 outbreak could cause global FDI to shrink by 5%-15%, due to the downfall in manufacturing sector coupled with factory shutdown. 

It highlights the effect of this pandemic on the manufacturing industry that forms a significant percentage of the world's economy. One last thing to note before we discuss how the industry should adapt, is shipping costs have skyrocketed. Sometimes 5x previous costs!!

How do we adapt?


Controlled Environments:

The best way to deal with the decline of the manufacturing industry is to set up controlled environment for operations. A complete shutdown of the facilities has proven to be of no benefit to anyone. However, the idea of executing manufacturing activities under proper protections and isolation is the key. Some of the industries have already heavily adapted and a few more are on the way to execute this method properly. Even post Covid, expect further separation and better technology to protect workers.

Collaboration and Digitization:

Another fruitful method for the manufacturing industries is to collaborate through execute of broad activities without building the pressure on a single area. Some of the industries avoided the methodology of collaboration instead of aiming for independence. Along with that, having a reliable and robust online platform for all the manufacturing industries of the world to consult and build up each other during these times is the key. Expect supply chains to turbocharge their partnerships.

Shipping:

Shipping costs may never come back down to previous levels, as demand skyrockets, there is only so much space to move cargo. Expect technology advances, AI-driven vehicles, lower cost ways to get product from overseas. Hopefully localization as well, instead of getting raw materials and partial supply chains overseas, perhaps right over the border makes more sense.

Financial Industries

The financial industry has been bracing for much tougher policing. Many leaders won't saying that financial industries are one of the major areas struggling with priority towards digitization. It is not that digitization did not exist before, but amid pandemic situation, many of the customers have opted to ONLY use the digital platforms to access the services of financial departments. Several businesses adapted to the online methodologies, it was necessary to have the access to financial departments at the same platform too for executing the activities smoothly.

How do we adapt?


Digital Banking:

Banks have started to provide better digital banking services than ever. Almost all the businesses have encouraged their employees to shift to digital banking for better and smooth transfer of payments. General statistics show that the usage of online banking and financial applications have risen to almost 80% in recent times. It is beneficial as it allows the customers to perform payment transfers and transactions without even leaving their homes.

Crypto:

Cryptocurrencies/Blockchain has met with a fair degree of scepticism from the banking system, however it will benefit for banks to acknowledge the disruptive capability of the technology and embrace it sooner than later. I personally had to argue with FIS’s CEO in 2016 that cryptocurrencies would impact their business. He has since left FIS, I often wonder if he recalls the college kid arguing with him in front of 500 attendees.

ATM's:

The conventional concept of cashing cheques has been replaced by the easy-to-access and independent usage of ATM's. In this context, it is significant for banks to have their ATM's up and running at all times to ensure better customer experience. So, there can be no better time to shift to ATMs and digital banking platforms for day-to-day financial activities.

Significance of online security:

Due to the increased demands of online financial platforms, there has been a sudden emergence of many new ones. In all this scenario, customers need to ensure that they use secure and safe platform for money transfers. It is also crucial for the banks to provide their customers with the ultimate cybersecurity and privacy. So, ensure that you opt for a certified platform concerning security and privacy.

Wellness and Healthcare

Covid19 has drawn the attention of individuals to the areas of wellness and health to a great extent. The idea of wellness includes being physically and mentally well. The whole situation of this pandemic has been of immense stress and pressure. And many people opted for the preventive strategy by taking the right steps for their health and mental wellness. In contrary to all this, the access of a person to the hospitals and therapy offices has been reduced, due to the idea of social distancing, and stay-at-home ideologies.

How do we adapt?


At-home medicines:

The concept of quarantine and staying at home has increased demand for the accessibility of medication at home. The government and healthcare organizations have taken the right steps and methodologies to ensure the access of medicines to every individual at their threshold. People can reach out to several online platforms to order medicines and health care items at home. Along with all this, the assurance of the enactment of SOPs is also kept as a priority by the major institutions. It is one of the best ways of adapting to this external situation of Covid-19.

Digital Consultation:

This pandemic has made people more concerned about their health, and as mentioned, they are opting for the preventive strategy. It also has induced the fear of catching the Covid-19 in each one of them. It has led to millions of people approaching their illness as Covid-19. To cope up with this, the healthcare institutions are offering digital consultation to everyone around the world. The purpose behind the idea is to filter out the patients in the right way so that the treatment can be made qualitative. So, now you can access several governmental and private platforms for your health concerns.

Online Therapy:

Since this situation has induced a tremendous amount of mental pressure and stress on every human, people have started to approach their mental health and psychological well-being as a priority. And the inaccessibility to the therapy offices is not what is stopping them, because several people are offering their services on online platforms. Many of them have been offering psychological services even without any cost in these difficult times. Statistics have shown an enormous rise in the number of people approaching for mental wellbeing. So, if you are also concerned about your mental health, perhaps a quick google search is all you need to help yourself find a good therapist.

At-home fitness applications:

Increased demand for at-home fitness applications has been observed recently. Several individuals around the globe have started to put their fitness as a significant element in their lives. It is inspirational to observe that the pressures of reality and inaccessibility to various elements are not stopping them from taking care of their health. In addition to the applications, several fitness programs are offering their services via social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

Entertainment Industry 

The entertainment industry has been deeply affected due to the Covid-19 situation. A major of the entertainment sectors demand the gathering of numerous individuals in one place to relish their work, which is quite not possible concerning the present situation. Indeed, the industry of entertainment has faced a decline in some sectors. But at the same time, the demand for entertainment from individuals due to plenty of free time has increased to the limit it never was. It has allowed the industries to approach their viewers from distinctive platforms to keep them entertained.

How do we adapt?


Live streaming:

One of the most obvious resources of entertainment for individuals nowadays is live streaming. It is not limited to the aspect of gaming presently but has extended its accessibility to almost all the domains of entertainment. Several influencers are making content and reaching out to their followers using the specified tool of live streaming. Some of the renown platforms like Instagram and YouTube allow this idea, making it more accessible.

Social media usage:

Social media usage has risen to a prominent degree. Various influencers are offering their services in the form of motivation and entertainment on social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The idea of higher social media usage has also paved the way to less productivity and the need for more filtration. Keeping the mental health, a priority, every individual needs to filter the access to resources plus individuals who are vulnerable to their psychological health on social media applications.

Netflix, Disney and Apple TV+:

Netflix is one of the most known names in the entertainment industry at present. The business of Netflix has been able to grasp the attention of individuals more than ever, during this time of the pandemic. People have found it a good source of entertainment during these stressful and pressurized times.

Online advertising:

With the increased usage of online resources, online advertising has been a significant component. Businesses and industries have invested quite some efforts and time to come up with the most appealing and relevant advertisements to the present times.

Education Industry

The education industry has faced immense challenges during this time of Covid-19. The routine of education has been completely and dramatically shifted. Almost all of the educational institutions are closed either temporarily or for undecided spans. It is a difficult time for parents as well to cope up with the situation, and ensure the learning of their children at home. But, most of the educational institutions adapted to the idea of online classes and digital learning.

How do we adapt?


Online schooling:

To assure that children face no lack in their learning process, the educational institutions and teachers went the extra mile to provide the education to them at their homes. A continuous schedule of online lectures has been observed during this time. At one hand, it is beneficial as it is allowing the continuity of the learning process. But, on the other hand, it is challenging for many students to cope up with this digital system. The less interaction between student and teacher is leading to hesitant learning for some.

Online courses:

In addition to conventional learning, many people have opted for the polishing and learning of distinctive skills. Platforms like Coursera and Edx have played a significant role in providing the courses from almost every discipline to the individuals around the globe. This time of pandemic has been productive for the ones who aimed for it to be.

Cybersecurity

Okay, I already harp on this one pretty good. I'll spare you too much thought here. With the increased demand for online resources and platforms, cybersecurity and privacy have been found as a serious concern, recently. Several people are facing cybersecurity and privacy threats from hackers or phishers. This demands the attention of government and organizations to provide the consumers with a safe and secure online experience. Also, the awareness of privacy rights is not that common among individuals. Hence, the sector of cybersecurity requires extensive progress to match up with the level of usage online platforms are under nowadays.

How do we adapt?


Desperate Attacks:

APTs (advanced persistent threats) or state actors are stepping up their game, they can magnify their impact during hard times. Ask any cybersecurity professional and they are exhausted from the bombardments such as 3rd/4th party vendor impacts like solar winds and Microsoft breaches. The reality is, we need to invest as a nation in stronger education and better international protections.

Awareness and Responsibility:

Every individual must be aware of their privacy and security rights. In addition to that, everyone should know their responsibility while using online platforms. It is vital to instill the idea of respecting one's privacy and ensuring one's security on online platforms, in the same way, it is in the physical world.


Conclusion

This pandemic has changed the view of the world completely. The rich are getting richer, the affluent folks splurging while the poor are hungry and visiting food banks at record levels. The ideas and levels of society have been shifted entirely. While all this is happening however, as humans, we are meant to adapt relevant to our external surroundings. Hence, we should approach this with thoughtful openness and mindfulness. Having sympathy and kindness for everyone around you is profoundly important. Our society makes this difficult, this situation has not only made us aware of ourselves and the reality of life, but also the significance that a single individual can make. So, the idea of opting for online platforms to execute the proper functioning of life is highly crucial in the present time. We need to push for better internet infrastructure and it puts the responsibility on the shoulders of each of us to make the positive and productive use of this system.

~Michael Goetzman

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