Since COVID-19 emerged in late 2019, it has thrown the world into disarray. While its impact on the physical health of the global population has, of course, been the primary concern, its widespread effects must not be overlooked.
Of particular importance is the impact coronavirus has had, and is continuing to have, on businesses, industries and economies. As governments have been forced to introduce lockdowns in a bid to contain the virus, there have been unprecedented interruptions for commercial entities.
While there’s no doubt that COVID-19 has presented challenging obstacles for businesses, it has also instigated change. To get a glimpse of the effects that the coronavirus is having on businesses and whether the changes are likely to be permanent, take a look at these five ways in which COVID-19 is changing industries:
1. Reliance on Data
The importance of data has always been widely known, but it has become a particularly hot topic in recent years. As technology evolved and businesses were able to utilize Big Data, the potential for greater insights and more knowledge became a reality.
In today’s economic climate, data is becoming more important than ever. Healthcare professionals have been guided by data throughout the pandemic and continue to respond to trends and spikes as they improve patient outcomes and provide public health advice. If you want to know more about how global statistics are helping to save lives, click here.
While governments and healthcare organizations are using data to overcome the pandemic, so too are businesses and enterprises. By collating information in real-time, they are able to identify the needs and wants of their target audience during this unusual time. As a result, companies can base their recovery on verifiable information, increase their chances of maintaining their operations despite interrupted cash flow and even increase profitability.
2. Remote Working
Many businesses had introduced flexible or remote working prior to the pandemic but, by and large, employers still required their staff to work on site. When governments encouraged people to work from home, however, businesses were quick to respond by rolling out plans to facilitate remote working.
Over the past few months, we’ve seen just how successful remote working can be, both for employers and employees. While businesses can reduce their operating costs and maintain or increase productivity, employees can enjoy a better work-life balance when they work from home. There may even be notable environmental benefits associated with a reduction in commuters.
Some organizations have already confirmed that they’ll be implementing remote working policies on a permanent basis, so it’s likely that COVID-19 will have a long-term impact on the way we work.
3. Supply Chains
Nowadays, fast transportation and climate control enables us to employ lengthy supply chains in a bid to access lower costs and a wider range of goods. When coronavirus emerged, however, it was clear that lengthy supply chains were likely to be disrupted or halted altogether.
As the demand for supply chain diversification increased, businesses were inventive when it came to maximizing product and material availability and limiting delays. Going forward, businesses are likely to be more aware and increasingly wary of the issues that can arise when supply chains are disrupted on a global scale. As a result, we’re already beginning to see the use of more varied chains and shorter chains. Companies are using a wider range of vendors to minimize risk, for example, connecting with regional or national suppliers and holding larger inventories, and these are trends we can expect to continue, at least in the short to mid-term.
4. Virtual Products and Services
Unsurprisingly, there has been an increased demand for virtual products and services while people have been forced to spend more time at home. Streaming services were already enjoying global success, but the pandemic has seen an increase in their popularity, for example.
However, it isn’t just existing virtual product and service providers which have benefited from the change in how we live and shop. In order to survive, many commercial organizations have adapted their operations to facilitate a ‘new normal’.
Gyms and fitness clubs are delivering live virtual training sessions, as well as on-demand online resources, for example. Restaurants are hosting live virtual cooking classes, as well as making their recipes and ingredients available for home use. Healthcare providers are even offering telehealth consultations in a bid to minimize the need for in-person visits.
While the transition towards online services and product delivery was already underway prior to COVID-19, it’s clear that the pandemic has moved us towards an increasing virtual world at a rapid pace. With many consumers happy with the range of accessibility of products and services, and businesses able to generate alternative revenue streams with fewer outgoings, this is one change that’s certainly set to stay.
For the vast majority of businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the most challenging obstacle ever faced. While successful companies have a range of contingency plans to employ at a moment’s notice, even the most risk-averse organizations will have been hard-pressed to adjust to the impact of coronavirus.
Having survived the economic impact of the pandemic, however, businesses are likely to amend their strategies in the future. By being aware of how fragile the global supply chain is, yet recognizing the resilience of the global workforce, companies can adjust their operations to mitigate risks and increase flexibility.
Profitability in a Post-COVID Era
As the vaccine rollout gets underway, we move closer to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. For businesses, this may mean re-opening physical premises, transitioning to an entirely online model or recalibrating their combination of the two. While there may be light at the end of the tunnel, it’s estimated that it will take between one and four years for the true impact of COVID-19 to become known. As a result, businesses will need to continue to operate with enhanced adaptability and flexibility as they navigate changing markets and evolving consumer behavior, if they want to reinstate and increase their profitability.