Coronavirus Part 2: A Reason to be Optimistic
March 23, 2020
Author: Alexandra Wood
A week ago, I was watching and waiting, by Thursday I went to Sam’s Club Now for meat and fish, today I am questioning if I have enough vegetables to last. Our environment is changing at a rapid pace. With kids staying home due to school closures, virtual meeting technologies being stressed, and shutdowns driven by the government coming into place, companies are doing what they can to respond and keep businesses running.
The reality is that in the United States, we are just at the beginning of this pandemic with the next few weeks deciding which line on the viral chart we will match. Due to that, we must start to consider that a larger impact, similar to – or exactly like – Italy, is what’s to come. As cities and states take more drastic isolation measures, it appears that advice is being heeded and the strain of doing so has been felt, but there is a reason to look to the future.
When stress is put on a system, solutions must be put forward to adapt. The longer this pandemic and, more critically, the quarantines remain additional stresses will be uncovered. One market that is already finding limits is education. Questions are being asked around how to educate students when the Internet is a utility and teachers are not trained or equipped to fully execute lesson plans remotely. While virtual classrooms are not new, the scale and flexibility with which they are needed is unique. This need has created a greater opportunity in the market.
In February, Japan Times reported on the increased adoption of robotics in hospitals in China to help “[act] as safe go-betweens that help curb the spread of the coronavirus.” Robotics has been a trend in all industries in the past decade — from advanced robotics in warehouses, robotic process automation solutions, and those used in hospitals. But adoption has not been widespread. As human resources become limited due to overcapacity, isolation and more, robotics may be a solution to help bridge that gap.
In the United States, we are seeing increases in online grocery shopping. While there are other challenges with the immediate availability of groceries and capacity to support it, this is giving grocery companies new data and exposure to new customers they did not have before. The ability to rapidly analyze data and adapt technology and processes to address customer feedback will be critical.
Every generation has a great disruption, something that changes how we approach business and the market. The great disruption of my generation has been the Internet. I grew up with it as did many others. We are used to communicating and receiving immediate feedback, goods and services. Our news is online and influencers are large drivers in what products we buy. The longer this pandemic continues, the more it disrupts our daily lives, the more we will look for new solutions to known and unknown problems. While many people are worried about the immediate impact of the virus, opportunity exists now for companies. The companies that will flourish are those that do not fear the disruption, but look at it as an opportunity for the future. The real question is which businesses will rise to the occasion?