So what’s next?
COVID-19 and the next generation of digital tools are transforming the global economy again. Two trends are now very clear:
1. Product supply chains are going to be made far more resilient to avoid the kind of disruptions experienced over the past 12 months, and all the knock-on effects in national economies.
New Zealand: Retail stores had product outages through last year and shortages of items saw prices shoot up, in consequence of global shipping bottlenecks and delays, we saw ships queuing for access to Auckland Port at times, and the volume of containers handed at the border nationwide fell 7% in 2020.
2. More and more businesses of every kind are going to shift online with the inevitable outgrowth of:
- Consumers becoming even more fervent in their preference to shop online for convenience and to avoid the threats and hassles of physical crowds.
- People in every type of organisation working remotely, be that from home or other out of office environment.
- Companies redesigning themselves to cut cost and function through periods of social lockdown.
New Zealand: NZ Post research showed a 30% jump in Kiwis’ online purchasing over the year to last August – and NZ Post expects that trend to continue with online grocery shopping in particular the “new normal” for much of the country.
Obviously these two trends are driven by advances in digital technology. We are making even more use of computers, whether these are on our desktops, in our smartphones, in the backrooms of major corporates, or out there in the Cloud – of course this was already happening before COVID-19 arrived.
Now there is a transformational advance occurring in digital technology in two areas:
- A drive to step up the interoperability of computers and information systems – their ability to talk to each other – to enable supply chain visibility, and,
- Peoples’ desire and expectation to use digital technologies, especially their smartphones, to ask questions and find information.
The arrival of COVID-19 and its shock to how we all live, work, and engage in the modern economy is rapidly accelerating the use of a new generation of digital tools that can:
- Link people more closely with physical goods and services, and,
- Form new and vastly expanded links between systems for data capture, storage, and exchange across the world.