Has the world changed forever?
After a turbulent 2020, what does 2021 hold for your business?
In 2020, the year of the Coronavirus, the world saw a monumental shift in our global lifestyle, and despite the huge vaccination roll-out commencing, the effects of the pandemic on our economy and society will persist throughout 2021. As a result of the societal changes caused by the pandemic, businesses have had to adapt rapidly to mirror the emergence and evolution of new cultures. SMEs will undoubtedly make a compelling contribution, with our predictions of sectors and innovations to look out for below:
Healthcare and its global provision will be pushed forward, as it was after the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. Investments in healthcare, across all areas is likely to increase and innovators in delivery, infrastructure, new treatments will all benefit.
Hyman Capital is already supporting businesses in this area and interest in health technology and other innovations is increasing significantly from investors.
The need for a shift towards sustainable living has been highlighted during the pandemic. Whilst there have been some notable positive environmental impacts, for example temporarily lower emissions, more simply needs to be done. Consumer trends over recent years have shown an increase in individuals, particularly younger people, choosing a green, sustainable lifestyle, however it is strikingly clear that for any real, positive change, bigger corporations will need to protect their brands and sales with improved environmental credentials.
With President Trump leaving office, and the implementation of Biden’s Climate Plan, we can expect to see the US invest once again in clean energy, climate research and innovation; as well as re-committing to the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The UK, also investing in green technology post-Brexit, will likely see solar and wind power continuing to establish and cement their position as an energy source. However, hydrogen is gain prominence as a solution to 3 issues, that of energy storage, replacement for natural gas and an alternative for vehicular drive trains.
Reducing environmental impact from human activity on the planet through technology ironically drives the requirement for greater volumes of precious metals and rare earth materials.
The geopolitical effect of reducing use of coal, oil and gas towards the materials for batteries, computers, fuel cells, lenses, screens and cameras, all of which are required for our increasing reliance on mobile phones and various IOT driven world. Mining, refining, and recycling are all likely to benefit from this increased demand for rare earth materials.
The likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams have been notable benefactors from the 2020 lockdowns, with “You’re on mute!” becoming a staple phrase in our vocabulary for the foreseeable. However, the pandemic’s impact on our use of technology is not confined to replacing face-to-face interactions and communication; it has also led to an inevitable surge in online services, learning and shopping.
Sectors such as healthcare appear to have successfully adapted by moving their services online through the use of online consultations in replacement of GP waiting rooms, where the need for medical assistance is more important than ever. Similarly; schools, colleges and universities have moved their learning primarily online, which has led to divided opinions regarding its success, with university students around the country rallying to sign petitions to cut tuition fees to mirror the change in teaching quality.
Lockdowns have increased online shopping purchases exponentially, with individuals, assumingly at home and bored, relying on retail therapy to pass the time. Huge online retailers such as Amazon have boasted large profits thanks to locked-down shoppers, with their revenue being their best ever during the first lockdown and profits doubling. Meanwhile, popular bricks and mortar high-street brands have been among the hardest hit, with their demise deemed inevitable in the current climate.
Despite technology offering a solution to keeping the world connected, it is worth noting that not everyone has equal access to technology with the pandemic furthermore emphasising disparities within our population.
Among those feeling the effects of life moving online are the older generations, who may not have the ability or knowledge to operate and utilise technology. Also exposed, are individuals who simply cannot afford the technology used and/or the electricity to sustain these; unfortunately making lockdowns evermore isolating and proving the prevalence of digital exclusion against low-income households, even in apparent developed countries like the UK.
This has caused major problems for school children who have felt limitations with regards to their education, with extra government funding needed to overcome this issue.