COVID-19 is resulting in significant disruption to well-established business paradigms, impacting businesses, sectors and stocks across the board.
However, as Albert Einstein once said: “in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”. That certainly rings true in 2020 as analysts predict significant changes in the types of businesses that will prosper through the crisis and beyond, with certain sectors and types of businesses dominating others.
At a time where our movement has been constrained in an unprecedented way, sectors relating to the movement of goods, data and people are being heavily impacted by the crisis but are also well-positioned to capitalise on the changes brought on by the pandemic.
Supply chain and logistics embrace technology
The pandemic has significantly impacted many bricks and mortar businesses, yet online shopping has boomed. Australia’s e-commerce industry had a growth of over 80% in the two months after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organisation.i
Yet this boost to e-commerce has brought its own challenges. Back in April 2020, Australia Post was delivering an estimated 1.8 million parcels each day, which resulted in lengthy delays to delivery times.ii Meeting the demand for timely deliveries, avoiding supply chain disruption and bottlenecks has called for innovation in logistics.
While demand may not remain at the heightened COVID-19 levels, experts are predicting long-term shifts, such as micro supply chains and decentralising of manufacturing capacity. Also critical to the creation of smart and nimble supply chains and effective logistics is the use of technology to drive efficiencies and manage significant fluctuations in demand.
Data movement and security a focus for business
It’s clear that where people’s physical mobility is limited, fast and secure movement of data is critical. 2020 has seen innovation being applied to find new ways to secure, verify and exchange business-critical information.
With many workers based at home, this shift to a hybrid workplace means a change in workflows as well as the immediate need for security measures to protect networks, as staff are no longer using their corporate networks. The increase of Zoom calls, for example, has meant becoming more aware and prepared for the potential of cyber hacks.iii
Businesses need to ensure their systems are robust and well-tested as we move to an increased reliance on technology. Expect a stronger emphasis on collaboration tools, workflow management and data protection.
Challenges and opportunities for travel
Suffice to say the travel industry has been one of the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s no doubt travel will surge once restrictions loosen, although this industry is one that will see profound change as it adapts to the post-COVID landscape.
Airlines are struggling to navigate uncharted territory. The ones that survive this crisis will have to be strategically creative to find a way to prioritise public health and sustainability, all the while maintaining profitability.
With more rigorous sanitation requirements, the quick turnaround times budget airlines have relied on may not be possible, meaning fewer flights and at a higher cost – this will change the budget carrier landscape substantially and make travel less accessible for some.
Longer-term trends emerging from the crisis will include greater automation driven by public health and budget constraints, and changing consumer preferences such as holidaying closer to home.
Public transport will also be impacted, as the need for distancing will restrict the number of passengers allowed to travel. Less congestion on our roads may be the silver lining to more flexible working arrangements, with some people continuing to work from home. This ability to work from anywhere will make it possible for an increasing number of Australians to relocate to regional areas.iv
The term ‘new normal’ has been expressed many times already and for good reason – lives have changed permanently. Only time will tell what life will look like post-pandemic, but there will be more changes as society emerges from the pandemic that will impact how we live, and these will drive innovation in the way businesses and industries operate.