COVID-19: The New Norm

COVID-19: The New Norm

For a few years now, governments and economists have been talking about the fourth industrial revolution, the advent of Industry 4.0 and bringing with it extraordinary leaps in fields such as Internet of Things (IOT) for manufacturing, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. However, it was always predicted to be about 5 years away. That has since changed, due to the global pandemic, accelerated to possibly occur within the next year. Currently, most articles, webinars and articles have focused on how to handle business right now, to cope with the disruptions brought by Covid-19. But little is talked about what might happen after, and how to prepare for it. To answer that, we have asked one of our experts, Dr Alex Lin, interim CEO of NTUitive, the innovation & enterprise company of Nanyang Technological University for his opinions on that matter.

The New Norm

According to Dr Lin, the new normal would be quite similar to what was predicted previously by Industry 4.0 by economists, with a few key differences.

  • There will be a focus on sustainability
  • There will be greater awareness of doing business in a less exploitative manner
  • There will be a severe change in consumer behaviors due to habit changes
There will be massive unemployment, and with businesses learning to downsize their manpower and digitizing, the same jobs may not return

For example, in the oil & gas industry, consumption would most likely never return to its previous levels as consumers have learnt to use less, be it through alternative sources of energy or otherwise. There will be new laws and regulations coming in to enhance protection post-covid to better handle a future pandemic which may lead to debates on privacy and a significant impact on the tourism and travel industry for years to come. The property market will be hit too, due to work from home many businesses have been forced to digitize which results in reduction in usage of commercial/office space. Usage that may never return to previous levels. There will be massive unemployment, and with businesses learning to downsize their manpower and digitizing, the same jobs may not return, leaving many more jobless.

What’s Next?

There are a few key areas to look at to prepare for the post-covid era. First and foremost, is to up-skill to be able to cope with the digitized landscape. Systems management and remote handling of teams and projects are a few examples. Lights-out factories and other autonomous features made possible by IOT may make some jobs obsolete but opens the door to others. It’s up to us to adapt ourselves. This is true for all sectors, we stated how the property market may be hit above, but this may mean demand for bigger residential spaces may increase with more people working from home.

Some of the new prominent industries may be:

  • Food Tech

o Urban farming could make use of unused office spaces left behind by covid
o Food preparation to delivery will see much change

  • eCommerce

o Has already been steadily gaining prominence, but now will have solidified its hold in the global market
o There is much to improve on payment, on-demand contract manufacturing, JIT warehousing & logistics, operation optimization, last-mile delivery, and virtual customer services

  • Health Tech

o The pandemic exposed our existing healthcare system inadequacies: from sickness detection and prevention to provision of affordable healthcare
o The monopoly held by a few companies over manufacturing and pricing of medical equipment and supplies has come to light and has prompted many to other routes such as 3D printing
o Reliable and quick detection would be required for travelers in the post-covid era

There will be new opportunities to seize, and we need to read the signs

All this means that everyone who wishes to succeed in the post-covid era needs to seriously rethink their business models and be prepared for change and learn to adapt. There will be new opportunities to seize, and we need to read the signs and watch the trends as events unfold in the coming months.

To learn more on the challenges & opportunities in post covid era, our industry
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Contributor: Dr Alex Lin
Interim CEO, NTUitive
Author: Dharun Janarthanan
Project Associate, ExpertConnect Asia