The New Way of Doing Business
The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been felt by everyone around the globe. With stay-at-home orders now starting to lift in some places, people are beginning to think about getting back to work and figuring out their “new normal”. Businesses will need to figure out how to operate in new ways. Adoption of shifted business models to regain customers will be the key to survival and long-term prosperity. Many companies will re-balance their priorities, so that resiliency becomes just as important to their strategic thinking as cost and efficiency.
While this event had a substantial impact on individuals, it also altered the business world as a whole. The pandemic could prove to be a decisive turning point in three areas in particular: digital commerce, telemedicine, and the broader topic of automation.
E-Commerce Remains on Top
It can be difficult to envision retail returning to normal one day, yet somehow it will. However, the changes in consumer behavior that happened in the last few months will have lasting effects. For Millennials and members of Generation Z—those born between 1980 and 2012—this crisis represents the biggest disruption they have faced. Their attitudes may be changed profoundly and in ways that are hard to predict.
The tourism, travel, and hospitality sectors may see their businesses subject to long-term changes in business and individual travel preferences. Concern over the possibility of future events could change how consumers approach financial security. The list of questions about how consumers will behave after COVID-19 is long, and uncertainty is high.
Despite all of the unknowns, the e-commerce movement will most likely continue its trend upward. Aside from the many brick-and-mortar retailers having been forced to close their doors, resulting in dramatic drops in sales, the most profound shift in consumer behavior is happening in e-commerce. Digital commerce was already visibly surpassing the sales of brick-and-mortar stores before the crisis. What this pandemic has done is accelerate a change in shopping habits that was already well established. In the long term, online shopping will get a boost from the lifestyle changes being forced on consumers because of the pandemic.
Telemedicine Thrust to the Forefront
Healthcare has been faced with a significantly accelerated pace of digitalization and consequently the transformation of care delivery. Patients benefit from easier access to medical advice via renewed telehealth and remote services, including phone or video consultation. If a physical examination or diagnostic tests are necessary, in-person appointments are scheduled and ordered digitally to minimize waiting times and contact with other patients. Such a digitally assisted approach can result in benefits such as faster appointments through tele-visits, less travel and virtual waiting rooms instead of crowded real waiting rooms. All of this not only makes it more convenient for the patient, but also leads to different workflows with different scheduling, real-time care and access management.
Teladoc Health, the largest US stand-alone telemedicine service, reported a 50 percent increase in service in the week ending March 20, and is adding thousands of doctors to its network. The Federal Communications Commission is spending $200 million to improve connectivity between patients and virtual-healthcare providers, and the US Department of Health and Human Services has increased reimbursements for telemedicine and enabled cross-state provision of virtual care. Sweden’s KRY International, one of Europe’s biggest telehealth providers, reported that registrations were up more than 200 percent. France and Korea have both changed regulations to ease access to telemedicine. With a vaccine or treatment at least months away, patients and healthcare providers both have reason to expand virtual interactions.
Labor and robotics experts say social-distancing directives, which are likely to continue in some form after the crisis subsides, could prompt more industries to accelerate their use of automation. Broad unease about having machines control vital aspects of daily life could dissipate as society sees the benefits of restructuring workplaces in ways that minimize close human contact. With less people in the office and the possibility of staff shortages, automation in the documentation process has been on the rise as well. With voice technology, you can quickly create documents using your voice. This technology allows you to instantly send voice recordings off to be turned into text, eliminating the need to physically be in the office or hand them off to a secretary.
For businesses, the consequences of the pandemic have been profound. Many have learned how to operate remotely and at far greater speed. These practices may stick, making for better management and more flexible work forces. With new structures to get work done, business leaders are able to gain valuable insights and have a better sense of what can and cannot be done outside their companies’ traditional processes and workplaces. Many are beginning to appreciate the speed with which their organizations can move once they change how they do things. In short, the coronavirus is forcing both the pace and scale of workplace innovation. Indeed, as businesses are forced to do more with less, many are finding better, simpler, less expensive, and faster ways to operate.
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