By Bernie Dixon
Confucius once said, “Out of chaos comes opportunity.” I’ve been thinking about what opportunities are being accelerated as a result of this crisis. It’s been impressive that most of population around the globe is retooling for a new way of operating and doing business. In the past two weeks we have moved from commuting to our office or meeting venues to working from a desk at home and meeting through video and audio calls. The gig economy began preparing us all for practices that have now become everyday: working remotely, juggling family and work responsibilities in one location and learning independently. We are working nontraditional hours to get it all done while we are prioritizing the health and safety of ourselves and those that are close to us. Many of these practices will become normalized as we move out of crisis mode. The pace of change has also accelerated under the same nontraditional practices. It got me thinking about what changes this crisis will begin to accelerate.
Video and remote computing skills are gaining as remote workers are forced to explore the range of capabilities that have been at their fingertips for years in their tablets, smart phones and other mobile devices. Teachers, institutions and many businesses have been forced to use the video capabilities that were once novel or last resort meeting tools. In the future we may find ourselves managing our days and our businesses exclusively through video. It may be less expensive, more natural to do so and more the norm than meeting in person.
Other remote computing capabilities with rapid adoptions rates include 3D printing, physical security, and virtual security. Could these areas also follow the path to normalization? What about the sales and use of collaboration tools and enterprise software? If the sale of on-line apps has quickly normalized, can we expect the same for enterprise level software? If that model works for $300 apps, why not for $50k applications? It certainly worth considering.
Telemedicine is being adopted in unprecedented rates; especially as urgent care facilities are being stressed beyond capacity. In the future we can expect the normalization of telemedicine. For those with non-urgent conditions, telemedicine provides triage and care without risking the health of others. Also, it may become a less expensive, more natural and more the norm than non-urgent visits to the doctor’s office.
Delivery and logistics are booming. Amazon is hiring more than 100,000 workers; Instacart is hiring 300,000 workers; Walmart is recruiting 150,000. Recognizing that the demand for additional labor is being driven by the temporary crisis, we can easily see the rapid evolution to individualized delivery. I have seen estimates that the United States has the potential to increase grocery delivery 5X if other developed nations are to serve as a benchmark for long-term adoption.
Entertainment is changing. Of course, audio and video entertainment is a simple swap to online presentation. eSports stands to emerge a large winner as well. When Formula One organizers halted the season of racing, fans naturally went online. Drivers are now competing in online races. The racing industry is quickly becoming a hybrid of virtual and real-world events. The fan base is thriving and becoming more engaged. The season can be expanded. The leagues can sell more products and subscriptions. Diverse kinds of races and venues can be offered online. Imagining a world of eSports that blends the real and virtual world is not difficult.
And what about US College education? Currently the wildly increasing burden of debt among students is simply unsustainable. On average, in the US, graduates depart their alma maters with about $30,000 worth of debt. Concurrently tuition grows about 8% a year. As we factor in online learning, I must question the willingness of students to pay for online classes that carry the same rates as on-campus classes. Maybe on-line learning, as it becomes more normalized, produces an enhanced or better learning process at a fraction of the price. The return on investment calculations for going to college may change drastically. Will the demand for on-campus college decline? This cat is out of the bag now with the crises. Change seems certain.
There are many other impactful changes that the current crisis may impel. Drug discovery, energy production, commuting patterns, travel patterns and behavior, household management could all change.
Entrepreneurs can’t help themselves when creating the future, pursuing new businesses and new opportunities. Change is afoot. What is this crisis accelerating in your industry? How will you ready your business?
Play to win.
Bernie P. Dixon is Founder and Chairman of Launchpad2X, a founder-to-CEO accelerator training program for women entrepreneurs. Find her on LinkedIn.