The pandemic is proving to be a wake-up call in many ways: the reality of zoonosis, the fragility of global supply chains, the importance of human connection and the impact of agoraphobia propelling a new contactless economy.
There’s a lot to process.
Perhaps harder to process is the 2nd wave of economic impact many businesses are facing. When countries around the world went into lockdown, business owners held their collective breath. It was very clear that some companies would not survive, in particular businesses in the hospitality, travel and eventing sectors.
In the past month we watched different countries reopen for business only to retreat back into a lockdown, as infection rates rose again. It is the open-endedness of this life in limbo that is now sinking in, as well as the now tangible second wave of economic impact starting to hit businesses.
Unlike the anticipated second wave of coronavirus infections, this second wave of economic impact was not as apparent as the first. It’s a combination of the knock-on effect of stalled supply chains and unforeseen ripple effects on interconnected, ancillary businesses. “Open for business” is no longer a guarantee of survival.
Many fear that this second wave of economic impact is where the real devastation to business will occur during the pandemic.
Enter a new Contactless Economy.
In a previous article on anticipatory grief I wrote that, “re-starting your business is becoming less about simply reviving it, but considering very carefully, how (and more importantly, if) your original business model fits into a changed and radically altered societal mindset”. The contactless economy is pivotal to this changed mindset. In most cases that means businesses going online, virtual and fully digitised.
You would think that digital transformation would be done & dusted in 2020, but there are a surprising number of companies and many government agencies that are still dragging their digital heels. The pandemic and subsequent lockdown has changed that. Many companies are being forced to fast-track their digital strategies. Speaking to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Dr Steve Bennett, director of global government practice at SAS, shared how one government agency (he didn’t say which) had to fast-track their seven-year(!) digital transformation strategy in the space of a week. That’s an extreme case study, but one that illustrates what can be done given the right motivation, or crisis.
Any forms of contactless interaction in business is crucial at the moment – from the tapping of a credit card at pay points to the use of video conferencing for doctors adapting to telemedicine – and the learnt behaviour for contactless interactions will become entrenched.
Many pin their hopes of the world “going back to normal” with the discovery of a Covid-19 vaccine, but there is a lengthy period between discovery and global manufacture and then distribution. Likewise, in terms of business recovery, the most optimistic outlook is that corporate companies will only start to turn a profit again in the next 12 months. That’s the perfect time frame needed for consumers and society at large to adapt and embrace any form of contactless engagement.
It will be our new normal.
Fast tracking digital strategies now, is an investment in your company’s future, and if you are a fully digitalised business, now’s the time to up your game.
For example, video conferencing (love or hate it) is now here to stay, as is remote working, and the ripple effect on commercial properties and asset management companies is going to be game changing. This pandemic is not only an epoch defining moment in history but an opportunity to rethink, reframe and restructure businesses and business models. Make sure you consider the impact of the contactless economy on your business. It will affect your business in some way or another.
Dion Chang is founder of Flux Trends
Join him for a unique business solutions masterclass on Thursday 6th August.
This masterclass is unique in that business owners have submitted the most pressing challenge they are facing at the moment. The Flux Trends team has researched solutions for specific sectors and will highlight global best practice case studies and hopefully spark new ideas to salvage or reinvent businesses.
This is Flux’s Futurist in Residence service made available to the public for the very first time.