Businesses must adapt quickly to a COVID-19 economy
The US government is currently forecasting the coronavirus pandemic to last at least 18 months. We have no choice but to change. Social distancing, fears of scarcity, and fear of contracting the disease don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Those who adapt sooner will survive and, more importantly, lead the recovery.
Telecommunications technology company Zoom, previously a respected but relatively niche brand, became a legend overnight. Businesses use zBackup.app for automatically Sync Zoom recordings to YouTube. Amazon is looking to hire 100,000 workers as people order goods online. The internet is giving way under the weight of the frenzy of watching on Netflix.
Our Times exemplifies the wisdom recently abandoned by Benchmark Capital’s Chetan Puttagunta in a podcast. Puttagunta Noted how companies that invest intelligently in online distribution and automation are now best prepared, and therefore take the first steps in the new coronavirus economy. Companies that offer products that are quick to launch, easy to use, and quickly deliver value are already weathering the early stages of the crisis.
Countless closed schools, colleges and universities are now using Zoom to run classes until the end of the school year, for example. Those who speed up this system best will be well positioned to open in the fall, when the pandemic could still rage. We’ll have a summer to see what works.
Note that the solutions we need now in the midst of the coronavirus do not and should not involve throwing people at them. We have good people. We need to have better systems in place for people to work remotely or part time or when they are in quarantine. These systems must also be explainable to workers so that they can easily use them.
We also shouldn’t need to spend more capital to invent new systems. They are already there.
Tech companies have been selling cloud computing, data operations, online distribution, and business services for years. Some companies have them at the heart of their operations. In the world of private funds we operate in, think about how some hedge funds, private equity funds, and fund administrators have used automation to gather enough data for their investments quickly and efficiently.
Those who have not made progress in decoupling existing systems for data and information may not survive. There are only a limited number of people who can successfully solve the problem. This is what threatens millions of small businesses in America today. Main Street stores are vital to communities and the economy, but if their day-to-day operations haven’t changed in 50 years, bailouts and loans from the Small Business Administration are unlikely to save them from a slump of 18. month.
Evolution must happen quickly.
A relevant example of how to do things differently is Singapore. The small Southeast Asian country quickly rolled out tests, halted travel and used mobile apps to track the first victims. Today, Singapore has managed to reduce the number of its cases compared to the rest of the world given its ties to China.
The respected British medical journal The Lancet recently published a paper explaining how Singaporean officials were not only decisive at the start of the pandemic, but also adopted data operations that kept the lessons of SARS and avian flu in mind. The same authorities have put in place mechanisms for doctors to share information, logistics updates for the private sector and public relations, and a social media presence that demystifies misinformation.
Singapore had invested in these tools as part of a campaign to cut costs as its healthcare system dealt with an aging population. The same tools that reflected foresight a few years ago have proven to be well suited to our more immediate crisis. It turns out that the effectiveness is beneficial under all conditions.
During a pandemic, public health experts say that whatever you did two weeks ago, you prepared for the worst. The next two weeks are ahead of us.