As a serial entrepreneur, Randal Gindi of Brooklyn, New York, is adamant that this current era of economic decline due to the global pandemic is accelerating some of the greatest innovations of our time. If this is true, then that means that humanity in a post-COVID world could experience unprecedented growth.
What Mass Disasters Have Meant to Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Plato is credited with the assertion, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
Over the centuries, trials and tribulations have become breeding grounds for those determined to create value seemingly out of thin air. Entrepreneurs and visionaries confront scarcity mindsets and demonstrate that there is always an alternative approach to solving problems.
As a result, mass tragedies force human beings to test preconceived notions and self-actualize in the face of difficulties. COVID-19 is no exception.
Leading Innovations Rising Out of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Educators everywhere are voicing their displeasure with the virtual learning environment, says Randal Gindi of Brooklyn, NY. And they are not wrong — forcing kindergarteners and high schoolers alike to sit in front of a screen for hours at a time is not ideal.
Primary and secondary education is bound to return to the physical classroom as soon as possible in a post-pandemic world. Nonetheless, school districts across the country are finding out just how effective technology can be at helping students learn and develop.
As such, options for homeschooling and home/classroom hybrid models are already under serious discussion in 2021. Students with more time at home enjoy the presence of family (with parents already enjoying their remote work environment), additional creative outlets, and proficiencies with leading digital devices and platforms.
In fact, the current youth population is the first generation to ever experience serious digital transformation during their formative years. Despite the serious challenges of virtual education, these students are likely to enter the workforce with more technical skills than any other generation before them, says Randal Gindi.
Social commerce is the integration of eCommerce (online shopping) and social media. Facebook and Instagram are leading the pack with incredible updates that allow users to shop within the social media app, share shopping experiences with followers, and connect with brands online.
These social commerce trends are partially responsible for record sales numbers in online retail in 2020.
Contactless Payments (Mobile Wallet)
Closely-related to social commerce trends are contactless payments. Fintech innovators are enhancing the transaction power of smartphones. The emerging technology of the mobile wallet is still on the rise as developers tweak bugs and open up the currency space to include all forms of payment, including fiat currencies, financing, cash accounts, crypto currencies, and even loyalty rewards/points.
Trends in contactless payments make it easier for buyers to transact from the palms of their hands from anywhere in the world. Even buyers and sellers in unbanked countries have started joining the global economy thanks to mobile payments.
But contactless payments also have implications for in-person shopping, says Randal Gindi of Brooklyn, NY. Cash and card handling is a source of virus spread and as such, many brick and mortar retailers are encouraging shoppers to use contactless payments by waving their smartphones in front of POS terminals.
Virus Infection Tracking
To contain the spread of the coronavirus, health experts have encouraged the use of virus infection tracking apps and software. Currently in use within localized regions and cities, residents and medical staff can input critical information that will notify others when they may have come in contact with COVID-19.
This virus infection tracking is saving lives by encouraging regular testing, quarantining asymptomatic carriers, and providing treatment to the infected before serious symptoms emerge. Since environmental experts predict the rise of future, unknown viruses, virus infection tracking may hold the key to reducing deaths and buying time for scientists to develop more effective treatments and vaccines, notes Randal Gindi.
More Sophisticated Supply Chain Management
In 2020, many supply chains came to an abrupt halt in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus from country to country. Furthermore, shipping companies had to institute new policies to protect their staff.
As a result, shipments were delayed and cargo vessels sat off the coast of ports for weeks and months at a time. These delays exposed pre-existing constraints in global supply chains.
More sophisticated supply chains have included a mixture of business model changes, as well as digital transformation initiatives. Innovators on both ends of the spectrum have helped international companies reduce waste, improve their verticals, and deploy new platforms such as blockchain technology.
For some, these changes mean finding suppliers close to home and providing more local entrepreneurial opportunities. For others, the challenges include improving supplier relations, updating legacy systems, and retraining employees.
Randal Gindi on Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) eCommerce Retail
Once again, eCommerce retail offers unprecedented innovations for vendors and consumers alike. 2020 saw a major uptick in DTC brands.
The direct-to-consumer (DTC) model depends upon direct relationships with consumers (hence the name). And while many DTC brands do occasionally partner with distributors, the bulk of their sales result from web traffic and online sales.
The DTC model cuts out retail “middlemen” in order to provide a lower cost, more personalized experience for their customers. Thanks to the user-friendly nature of leading eCommerce platforms, those with no business experience but a vision for a better product or service can scale their business on a shoe-string budget.
As a result, DTC growth is forcing incumbent brands to compete. The retail industry is becoming more agile and customer-centric, thanks in large part to the explosion of DTC brands in 2020.
Though driverless cars, trucks, and drones have yet to infiltrate the mainstream, developers are hard at work. COVID-19 saw a notable decrease in vehicle traffic around the world. Robotics and driverless vehicle innovation work continues, says Randal Gindi.
Experts predict that widespread adoption of driverless vehicles will take another 10-15 years. But once the technology proves affordable and reliable, it will have enormous effects on transportation, shipping, and energy in a post-COVID world.
A natural byproduct of all the online and mobile activity in 2020 is a gold mine of new user and consumer data. Analysts are scrambling to make sense of the new data and then to create actionable insights based on that data.
Armed with this information, organizations, innovators, and marketers can create more personalized solutions at a faster pace. Furthermore, the data can also help experts monitor trends and develop more agile mindsets across every industry, says Randal Gindi.
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