The globe is now at a grave crisis, the pandemic has reached almost every corner of the globe and every region is more or less affected. Countries are in dire straits and throughout the globe, many countries are under lockdown. These lockdowns, however, are having a severe adverse effect on the economic scenario. From small and medium businesses to multi-million-dollar industry leaders are all suffering.
At this moment the traditional methods by which firms used to operate have to be stopped for the safety of the people involved with the firm. Now with business activities like shipping, transportation, and meetings coming to a standstill, how do firms adapt to the current business situation is a matter of debate.
PANDEMICS: ACCELERATOR FOR CHANGE?
As we scroll through history, it is eminent that pandemics have significantly changed the way society operates. When Europe suffered through the great plague, it was left a great deal short of its human capital and manpower. During that time the way people worked had changed because fewer people were able to work. So, each had to work longer and harder and earnings or wages began to increase. This promoted equality in society and the amount of property owned by an individual had increased because few people were left to share the land.
Fast-forwarding a few hundred years into the 21stcentury, the outbreak of SARS in China led to the growth of e-commerce both in Asia and globally. Alibaba.com is one of the firms that took advantage of the new trends in business and became immensely successful in the future. Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic saw a boom in the use of videoconferencing, interactive behavior over the internet, and the extensive use of social media to communicate for both business and social purposes. Now the question arises on how firms will adapt to these new techniques and what are the factors that will determine their success, or for the time being, how will they survive.
INNOVATIONS EN ROUTE
The first landmark is telemedicine. This concept can save the lives of millions, especially healthcare professionals. This is because they are the ones coming in contact with the patients most often. Telemedicine is a combination that uses mobile devices and robots to diagnose the patient and continuously monitor their health conditions. Treatment can also be provided using robots while doctors remain at a safe distance.
Artificial Intelligence is being used to track the health condition of the population by tracking newspaper articles and providing warnings beforehand. Drones are being used to deliver supplies to areas under lockdown and this is advantageous because drones can travel faster than cars.
Working from home has now become the norm and employees of renowned brands such as Amazon and Alibaba are working from home. Even though only large corporates are being able to do much for the time being, in the near future all types of organizations will be able to develop the infrastructure needed to continue operations like this.
Production oriented sectors can switch to fully automated mechanisms where the machines will be operated from home. However, this will cause a huge problem in developing countries. For example, in Bangladesh, the RMG sector employees are a huge portion of the population. Full automation might mean staggering levels of unemployment in the country. Many goods even when mass-produced cannot be fully left to machines to ensure quality. Also switching completely to full automation requires a huge amount of time and financial resources that only a few companies can afford.
THE NEAR FUTURE
The pandemic will play a pivotal role in shaping the future. The virtual world and the necessity of social media communications have become even clearer to the world. Research and development will now take place in this sector and better user-friendly platforms will be seen to emerge. The arrival of new platforms and ease of usage will attract more people to use them and the popularity will attract more investment. International business meetings will be easier to conduct and expenses on travel and accommodation can be saved. These savings will help the organizations to provide remunerations to employees who have suffered greatly due to the ongoing pandemic.
Perhaps the major change will be how media platforms go about to handle misinformation. Since the outbreak, numerous myths and rumors and theories have broken into the headlines that had adverse effects throughout the globe. Media platforms have to step up and provide authentic information. Because at desperate times like these appropriate information can become the difference between life and death.
Governments and responsible authorities have to provide relevant information to the people. In such situations, a gap in information can spell catastrophe. For instance, if governments hide the number of cases, they are putting more people at risk by not disclosing their whereabouts or identities and warning people to stay away from them. So, the governments should open themselves up a bit more to the public and provide all relevant information.
Artificial Intelligence and other major technological projects will see a surge of new opportunities and potentials. AI will be used in the medical field more extensively and will open a new horizon of treatment.
Other changes will also take place in the business arena. Supply chains will merge into resilient ecosystems, digital bureaucracies will become mainstream and mental health support will be provided digitally at scale.
THE SIGNAL FOR CHANGE
The pandemic hopefully will be brought under control shortly. The world has hope that a vaccine or cure will be discovered soon. Once the pandemic ends, the world, however, will change in many ways. Working from home and usage of video conferencing as a means of conducting meetings will become much more common and prominent. The use of social media will increase even more. The most significant development will come in the field of artificial intelligence. New methods of treatment will be used and a new horizon will be discovered in the field of medical science that can perhaps help predict future outbreaks and prevent pandemics.
Raiyan Mehdin Hassan