Social distancing is becoming a catalyst for major changes that will mark the beginning of a new era for business.
Technology is playing a crucial role in a world ruled by quarantines and lockdowns. As COVID-19 spread, brands are facing the challenge of reinventing their own business towards meeting the customers’ new needs.
While some businesses are in an uncertain tailspin, those that successfully digitalized their operations and exploited the technological potential are now reaping the rewards.
These times will mark a tipping point, demonstrating how technology can improve our lives in the most trying of scenarios and even how interconnected humankind can be despite the physical distances.
As experts are talking about the “new normal” of social distancing, undoubtedly we can expect a long-lasting effect of these six tech trends beyond COVID-19:
This market is definitely the biggest winner during COVID-19 pandemic. Online orders and deliveries became a must for almost every brand, especially for brick-and-mortar shops.
During this isolation period, people are changing not only how they buy goods and services; but also what, where and why they purchase. The pandemic we are facing represents a huge opportunity for both business-to-business and business-to-customer selling approaches.
According to a survey carried out by Engine Group, a marketing company in the US, consumers are spending on average 10-30% more online.
The greatest testimony of growth is the giant retail platform Amazon, which is thriving with a 44% increase in stock price and currently hiring 175,000 additional employees for its distribution centers.
2. Contactless payments
As people avoid handling cash, the shift to digital payments is accelerating. This trend includes virtual cash transfers and e-wallets, as well as mobile payments.
In Asia, home of the biggest smartphone user population, people are showing less resistance to use their mobile devices to perform credit and debit card-like operations, reported Tech Wire Asia news website.
Creating a wallet out of a smartphone allows people to link their bank accounts or credit cards to their phones. They can tap the devices on a contactless reader or hover over it to trigger payment.
An example is Burger King, which in March launched an advertising campaign to encourage people to download an app to pay at their drive-thrus.
However, according to the World Bank, there are 1.7 billion people who don’t have a bank account and who won’t have easy access to digital payments.
As reported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), almost 70% of the world’s student population is being affected by educational institutions closures. As a result, education is facing a dramatic change.
Online courses, video conferencing, virtual tutoring, learning software, learning platforms (such as language apps), and Ebooks are experiencing a significant growth. Experts are wondering how these trends will change the educational outlook after the pandemic.
“Even before COVID-19, there was already high growth and adoption in education technology, with global edtech investments reaching US$18.66 billion in 2019 and the overall market for online education projected to reach $350 Billion by 2025,” stated the World Economic Forum.
While people don’t want to physically go to hospitals and other health centers due to the risk of COVID-19 contagion, virtual alternatives are facing a boom.
On March 17th, the Trump administration announced an “historic action” to promote virtual medical care for elderly people, those with long-term care needs and people with disabilities. “Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or videoconference at no additional cost, including with commonly used services like FaceTime and Skype,” said president Donald Trump during a press conference at the White House.
Indeed, in the US there are many success stories among private health providers. According to Joseph Kvedar, president of the American Telemedicine Association, they have reports of a medical center in New York which jumped from zero to 5,500 visits in a single day.
“Millions of households have now tried telemedicine, and many doctors and clinics are using it for the first time to deliver care to patients and their families. When the pandemic passes, we should welcome this growth and continue to increase access,” said Kathleen Jordan, chief medical officer at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, in an article she wrote for The Washington Post.
5. Virtual entertainment
During this isolation period, leisure times are becoming even more important for emotional stability maintenance.
During COVID-19 outbreak in China, nightclubs managed to keep the party on with livestream DJ sets. Their online “cloud raves” became the hottest trend on Tik Tok in China and allowed the entertainment business to earn millions of dollars from streams.
Also, in the US some museums, national parks, zoos and aquariums, theme parks (including Disney World), and even NASA are offering virtual tours. Going a step further, amusement parks such as Six Flags incorporated virtual reality for people to experience a new kind of roller coaster ride.
There is also space to grow for games apps, online movies and TV series, streaming platforms, and livestream and virtual concerts to watch from top artists.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers were acquiring new wellbeing technologies, but the social distancing regulations accelerated this market.
Staying at home means taking care of mental health, nutrition, and exercise on your own. Under this scenario, technology has become a great ally. With increased anxiety levels, many people also looked for sleep aids to ensure quality of rest.
According to the consulting firm Strategy Analytics, smartwatches sales increased 22% at the beginning of 2020, over the same period of 2019.
Also, Virtual Reality is making its way in the Smart Wellness industry. An Italian research paper stated that immersive videos of beautiful gardens and landscapes could be incredibly useful to relieve stress, clear your mind and counter the effects of not being able to travel due to COVID-19 regulations.
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