Disclaimer: This article is published in partnership with Siemens. Siemens is paying for my engagement, not for promotional purpose. Opinions are my own.
It would be an understatement to state that the last six months have changed the world in a way that we didn’t expect.
Whatever we have planned for the past ten years, since digital transformation came on the agenda, is now facing uncertainty and doubt.
Only a few months ago, we were moving in a more connected physical and digital world: phygital.
A world where our digital fingerprints in the physical world were supposed to enhance our lives (public transportation, utilities, health via tracking devices), and improve how we do business (Industry4.0, Account-Based Marketing, …).
Only a few months ago, airlines were short of planes and pilots, a global shortage caused by the 737 Max grounding and increasing demand. Tourism was a safe bet for developing countries to attract currencies (e.g. Cambodia, Central America…) and generate income.
Now, international tourism will decline by 60 to 80% in 2020, threatening 100 to 200 million jobs (source: UN WTO https://www.unwto.org/).
Only a few months ago, we thought we were ready for … anything.
Companies had Business Continuation Planning in place. But how many planned for a complete national lockdown, a ban on international travels, and a disrupted supply chain at the same time?
Before March, consumers and corporations were buying products manufactured on the other side of the world with limited availability and delivery concerns.
What happens when we realize that Europe does not produce a single gram of Paracetamol or manufacture disposable masks?
What happens when toilet paper disappear from the supermarket shelves, and British people discover with horror there is only one toilet paper manufacturer in the UK?
This crisis exposed our vulnerabilities. What made us strong wasn’t that resilient after all.
A few things picked up my curiosity among all the recent changes as I see them having a profound and long-term impact.
Sports are evolving to esports.
Stadiums are closed and sporting events have been cancelled.
What do you do if you are a sports fan?
Moving online seems to be the logical answer; and so it did for a large number of sports fans.
Twitch is the new Sports channel.
The combination of sports events cancellation and school closure made Twitch the king of esports.
Being an esports player can now be a viable vocation for many thousands of people across the world.
Culture has shifted to the screen(s). New AR/VR era for performers and arts.
With no audience allowed, performers and artists had to find creative ways to play, entertain, and share their emotions.
Museums organized virtual or real walks inside their collections with first-class views and explanations. Some museums adapted very fast, perhaps too fast? The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, where the security guard became the Social Media Manager and became an instant celebrity (https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/23/839551073/meet-the-security-chief-making-a-cowboy-museums-social-media-feeds-extra-delight?t=1600007710300).
Musicians perform live shows and develop tutoring offers to make a living.
We will go back to theaters and museums, but this crisis has allowed many cultural players to explore new ways to approach and engage with their public and reach new audiences. For example, the National Theater in London played every Thursday between 2nd April and 16th July on YouTube one of their productions and made it available to everyone for one week https://www.youtube.com/c/NationalTheatreOnline/featured.
Is there a viable future for Public Transport?
Banks, insurance companies in London, tech giants in the Valley, or many others across the world have already indicated that their employees will not come back to a mainly office-based business but will allow employees to work from home (https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/coronavirus-bp-sell-office-banks-rethink-working-patterns-121017576.html).
While the primary reason is still to protect employees from COVID, some companies, after a successful live experiment, see that as an opportunity to spread their workforce with the benefits to align the salary to the home address and not the work address.
Today the speed of your broadband is at least as important as your ease to access public transport.
Slower broadband is equivalent to a longer commute.Cyril Coste
This could be a significant development for medium-sized cities, well-connected to the capital. At the same time, what are we going to do with our massive public investments in commuters transports in our large cities? Are these infrastructures still viable? Still desirable?
We have self-doubts about what we want next.
COVID forced us to open our consciousness and raise doubts about how we were supposed to improve and evolve our living standards and way of life.
The recent surge in price and transaction for houses outside city centers in Europe may have halted or paused this concentration in city centers. After all, if you don’t need to be in the office anymore or just for a few days per month, why not live in a larger house with green space?
Does it mean that our connected life has overpowered our physical lives if where we live doesn’t matter anymore?
Time will tell if the trends we noticed these past months are durable or not. Our ‘old’ future is on pause and the new one is uncertain.
Businesses, governments and individuals have to make choices during this uncertain period for the world. We are living in a global behavioral experiment, juggling with rules and regulations changing every week.
Whatever the live experiment outputs will be, we are responsible for designing the New Normal’s future outcomes.