7 Evolving Business Trends In 2021
New Year 2020 was possibly a time when the world came together to celebrate in unison the last time, bringing out our best in clothes, entertainment, jewellery, holiday destinations, food, indulgences et al.
Who would have thought that a microorganism so small, not even visible to the naked eye could wreak so much havoc in everyone’s lives?
The Covid -19 pandemic does one thing without bias. Affect people across cultures, countries, societies, ages, economic strata and race.
If you are ever in a natural calamity or an accident, this is probably your chronology of thought to a point of acceptance.
‘I am safe. This can never happen to me. Don’t waste your time talking about this to me!’
‘What just hit me. Is this happening to me?’
‘I am in this event. What do I do now? Is my family safe?’
‘I need help. How do I get help? Why is nobody coming to help me?’
Covid 19 is a life-changing and life-threatening event. Hence life decision and business decisions revolve around trying to keep people safe in the short term and the long term. In the past one year habits have changed too. These are a few things that are happening today (or have already taken place) as we speak.
1.Work From Home Means Spending More Time At Home.
Businesses that facilitate this will be on the upswing. Let us look at some of them.
- In March 2020 everyone was suddenly confined to their homes, with nowhere to go. That meant keeping yourself occupied with work and leisure, in the same space. In 2021 we are a little more prepared to handle this change in home space due to our calibrated response and anticipation.
- If you have a small home, you would choose to keep your family members safe and at the same time go about your daily work in the best possible manner.
- This is where work isolation booths or cubicles could help. A small place where once you are at your work station, all the ambient noise is majorly cut out and you could go about your zoom calls and other work-related activity without interruptions. Plus, when you need to spend long hours in front of the computer, you need to be comfortable in your chair. Which sector benefits? Home improvement, eCommerce, furniture retailers, chair, table and workspace manufacturer and outfitters.
- If you have a larger home such a work isolation booth would help, but what you would also need is a robust internet service that is uninterrupted, doesn’t cost too much, doesn’t bill you by the hour( might be a good idea to go for an annual plan) and has good reach within your home. Which sector benefits? Computer manufacturers, Digital Networking Accessories, Broadband companies, Power back up companies, Data Management companies
2.Jobs, Skills, Knowledge:
- A pandemic means uncertainty, loss of business and loss of jobs due to unplanned shutdowns.
- Work that needs less manpower or is well automated seems to buck the trend, but anything that needs people to people contacts regularly, at proximity, tends to get affected.
- Job security seems to have taken a beating in many economies. Gig economies that seem a distant fad, now seem very relevant with more opportunities and lower risks for all stakeholders.
- Jobs that help minimise physical contact will find favour, with new and reskilled job seekers.
- AI and automation will play a major role in keeping people safe, be it in manufacturing, healthcare, logistics, e-commerce and many more sectors.
- Knowledge dispensation will move more seamlessly from the physical to digital and this, in turn, will impact jobs
3.Media, Entertainment, Events:
- These are sectors that need to reorganise themselves, given the present situation. Media for example has gone from ‘one to many’ to ‘one to one’ digitally. Companies that have a strong digital presence or have built strong digital properties, stand to benefit in the short and medium-term.
- In the entertainment industry, safety first protocols have put serious questions on the practices of the past. This also means the industry has to get more efficient with lesser people to manage the same outputs of the past.
- Events and entertainment are closely related. The pain that the entertainment industry feels is also felt in the events industry. The challenge of the future would be to create large virtual events, that are as involving and exciting, as on-ground or in-person live events.
With travel, manufacturing and logistics being majorly hit during the pandemic, companies and countries will need to move from global perspectives to local ones. For example, it is no point in having all your eggs in one basket for economies of scale, if you just don’t get things on time. This means that each country and community will need to build local or regional competence that they can depend on in times of need.
5.The Hierarchy Of Pandemic Needs:
- When the pandemic hit us a year back, the most immediate needs in tackling the unknown virus was immunity supplements, face shields, masks and PPE suits.
- As the virus changed character and began infecting more people, the need to find vaccines took precedence.
- In the second wave when more people started getting infected at an alarming rate, and the intensity/ferocity of the infections of the virus increased, demand for oxygen plants, ventilators, home intensive care options, jumbo covid care centres, hotels being converted to covid care centres with oxygen support, specialised life-saving drugs and pharmaceuticals increased.
- With lockdown in place in many parts of the world, conventional products and services suffered. Companies that pivoted into new realities quickly, could take advantage of the changing dynamics.
- Today there are food delivery companies that have taken on the role of errand runners for small items, or better still delivery companies that pick up food from a relative of yours and deliver it to you at home (so much for not being able to travel).
- Ecommerce companies, that have increased their product and service offering to include groceries, fresh food items, electronics, books, streaming services, cloud services, all at the click of a button.
- Confectionary companies, pizza chains and bakeries help you and your friends celebrate every occasion and non-occasion without leaving your home or risk your health.
- Online pharmacies, who can deliver an uninterrupted supply of prescribed medication without the person having to step out.
- Health and wellness options that can keep people healthy, without them having to step out of their homes.
- There is a huge dearth of trained healthcare professionals in every part of the world due to the relentless waves of infections. The economies of tomorrow might need to adapt, as the software industry has. Use expertise from another geography, while we build a robust health infrastructure locally in time for the onslaught. The healthcare professionals of tomorrow would be those who see the bigger picture and micro alignments in the same view and plan for the future. Those who can predict future trends and threats for a safer tomorrow, from today’s indicators, will be in great demand in every sector.
- Travel broadens the horizon they said, but that is exactly what got hit with the pandemic.
- Lesser travel with more restrictions meant lesser people on the road, in flights and hotels. That meant more travel operators and tour companies going bust. More cab drivers with lesser chances of earning on trips. More defaults on car loans. Lesser demand on car manufacturers and other personal mobility options.
- In aviation, it means lesser planes in the air than in the desert parking lots, more angst amongst aviation personnel and ground staff, lesser demand for future orders of planes.
- A small set of people who made a killing in the pandemic were the ferry pilots who ferried those large and small planes in the air to their parking destinations in the desert and the plane parking garage companies.
- Holidays too, have moved from long ones to short format rechargers (just a couple of days and back to the safety of your home if you could afford to travel).
- The challenge for any economy would be how to make this sector viable in the short run and how to reskill all those employed in it and other allied sectors if the need arose.
- A hit on travel may also mean better than average periods for local logistics and courier companies, good transporters, goods vehicles manufacturers, container companies.
- The focus on future would be on online mobility rather than physical mobility
- Education is one area that had pivoted into digital formats before the pandemic. That in turn has ensured that disruptions were eased out after the initial shocks.
- The challenge though remains on how to connect rural economies and underdeveloped communities to this new form of knowledge dispensation.
In this new age of unpredictable twists and turns, businesses with a clear purpose, sustainable options and the willingness to move quickly into new realities at a drop of a hat will thrive.
This might be the right time to ask ‘Where does my business stand in all this and what am I willing to do to change, to keep everyone safe and thriving?