As I start to write this piece, it’s been weeks since lockdown measures were rolled out across the globe in an effort to arrest the spread of COVID-19, and the thought of a post-pandemic world seems torturous: a fantasy scenario. After all, we still don’t have any clear notion of when things will go back to normal. We might think things are getting better and start to pull back on social distancing only to see a leap in cases that puts us back at square one.
Even so, however hard it may be, we need to envision a future in which the core battle against the virus has been won — because if we don’t, we won’t know how to cope when it arrives. All the problems that have stemmed from COVID-19 wouldn’t just disappear with the virus. A lot of damage has been done, and there’s a long recovery process again.
So how can the world most effectively bounce back from this? Strong morale will help, and community spirit — but technology in particular has a crucial role to play. Here’s why:
Money management will be essential
Due to lockdown measures, we’ve seen plenty of companies fail outright. Some rely on foot traffic to make money and have either been forced to close or defiantly stayed open but seen almost no business. Others just haven’t been able to cope with the need to work remotely, or have suffered from general drops in spending.
As a result, workers have been furloughed or fired in huge numbers, and government support only goes so far. Many will be in dire financial straits when things finally start to look up. What’s more, no one knows what will happen to the housing market. Not many sales can happen during the pandemic, but prices aren’t likely to drop enormously: if anything, they may end up even higher when lockdown ends and people crave new environments.
With savings down but people eager to get back to business as usual, AI-powered financial tools like Breezeful, a mortgage broker driven by machine learning (go to https://breezeful.com), and Olivia, a smart financial assistant (see https://www.olivia.ai/), will be invaluable. The more effectively people can manage their money, the more quickly economies will be able to recover.
SaaS will enable the growth of startups
During this difficult time, the SaaS industry has delivered incredible results. Without suites like Google Docs and communication tools like Zoom, the transition to remote working wouldn’t have been anywhere near as swift or smooth. Relying on now-robust internet infrastructure (and the growth of 5G: https://www.technobugg.com/heres-everything-about-5g-technology/), companies of all shapes and sizes have been able to continue operating due to the rich resources of the cloud computing world.
When people feel sufficiently confident that the COVID-19 crisis is on the way out, they’ll want to invest again: invest financially, yes, but also invest in their own businesses. We’ll likely see something of a boom period with entrepreneurial types frustrated from lockdown and eager to prove what they can achieve — and SaaS will make that possible.
Instead of needing to find the money for expensive hardware, anyone with an idea and a laptop will be able to build and launch their company using only low-cost SaaS tools (Canny has a good list of free tools at https://canny.io/blog/free-saas-tools-for-budget/). This will empower the kind of complex innovation that can get the business world buzzing again.
We’ll still need to take precautions
Something we all need to remember is that imagining a world after the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t imagining a world after COVID-19 itself. It’s difficult to envision a scenario in which we get rid of the virus altogether. We might be able to stop it from becoming a major problem again through vaccination, but not end it permanently. In all likelihood, it will linger for a long time to come, possibly serving as something that lurks in the background and occasionally flares up.
Due to this, being able to take smart precautions will retain its importance, and technology is key for designing those precautions. Consider all the apps that are currently in development: apps that will make it easier for people to track the spread of the virus and gauge the likelihood that they’ve been exposed to it.
In a world recovering from COVID-19, the technology that will have been developed to fight it will play a huge part in preventing it from becoming a pandemic-level threat again.
We’re still in the middle of the fight against this pandemic, but however difficult it may be to look so far ahead, we have to think about what it will take for the world to recover — and one thing we can know at this point is that technology will be crucial.