Can times of crisis spur innovation and drive up the speed of innovation?
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way people live in the world. Half the global population are now isolated inside their homes. COVID-19 happened before the dawn of internet; No smartphones, no social media, no Zoom Technology now plays a vital role in overcoming this pandemic. Although we are isolated, but we can communicate via internet. We can’t socialize at offices, or drink at bars with colleagues, but people are using online communication apps to organize small virtual parties, and live-streaming DJ sets. Before the pandemic, no one doubted their need to commute to the office, but now we are experiencing a new normal.
Global businesses are running without any employees physically commuting to the office. While some physical businesses are declining with this new normal, such as travel industry, education, dining, and sports, in some markets weekly/monthly real estate leases are growing due to the increasing demand of people having satellite offices other than their home; Children are learning via e-learning. Food delivery and subscription groceries are becoming a new revenue stream earning for restaurants via app or online. Esports is new wave of sports and entertainment at home where people can now be either athlete or fans online.
It is not only that technology and innovation that has helped the way we live in this pandemic, but it has also fundamentally changed the way drive innovation. The outbreak of SARS became a pivotal moment for Alibaba to become current giant ecommerce platformer. Five years ago, Bill Gates gave a TED talk during the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa that the world needed to invest on the system that protected citizens from this unseen enemy rather than nuclear weapons. That warning nell rigs loud as it is obvious that the world was not well prepared. However, accelerators around the world are gathering innovators and startups who can help build a new acceleration eco-system. Even acceleration programs are now becoming fully online and new online conference platforms are coming to the industry at pace, where people can interact and pitch virtually, such as Remo. With the help of innovators, governments could enhance screening process of COVID-19 cases at airports or citywide checkpoints. Technology and data could support governments to track available beds in hospitals, in real time in their countries.
This new normal will become normal. Technology and innovation will fill in the gap of social distancing between people. Negatively impacted industries may see themselves being replaced by newly born industries driven by innovation. Crisis ultimately brings change. Embracing this new normal will only help to innovate the way we all live.