The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting just about everything, therefore, the companies that will survive and thrive are embracing disruptive innovation. In my previous post, How Have You Been Successful in Dealing with Industry Disruption, I discussed several drivers of industry disruption.
These drivers include:
- Supply chain issues
- Customer purchasing habits changing
- Regulatory changes
Now I want to discuss disruptive innovations that will be used to solve a variety of issues. You may notice that these innovations are not necessarily new. The pandemic is driving companies to implement disruptive innovation.
I enjoyed the last statement in the introduction because it read like this:
“This report analyzes key technological responses and developments per sector, introduces three key themes – controlled accessibility, predicting the unpredictable, and digital but local – and puts a spotlight on collaborative innovation, mental health, reskilling, and education.”
The report focuses on the long term effects of the crisis in three areas:
The author discusses disruptive innovations are coming from the use of Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, Big Data, Blockchain, the Internet of Things, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Digitalization, 3D Print, Robotics, and Drones.
I have picked out just a few topics to discuss.
Remote Work/Distributed Workforces
The most apparent disruption in the workforce is the adoption of the video and I claim that you can thank Netflix for this. Their streaming video service forced most of the major network providers to reconfigure their networks to accommodate video on a large scale.
At the height of the lockdown, approximately 50% of employees were working remotely. Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics was quoted as saying:
Our best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
The large scale adoption of video is probably the most visible disruptive innovation brought on by the pandemic.
Drones Have Gone Mainstream
Drones have gotten approval for delivering a variety of products. First, Singapore approved the use of drones for delivering medical supplies to ships in their harbor. This is just the beginning of how drones are used to deliver medical supplies and personal protective equipment without human involvement.
California-based UAV delivery startup, Zipline partnered with Novant Health, a North Carolina non-profit healthcare provider. They are now distributing personal protective gear and medical equipment via drone in North Carolina.
The country that has used drones to the greatest extent during the pandemic are the Chinese and They applied drones to solve three problems:
Aerial Spray and Disinfection
Instead of using drones to spray pesticides for agricultural areas, the Chinese have taken drones and adapted them to spray disinfecting chemicals in public spaces. In the same way, vehicles have been impacted by the pandemic and are being spray disinfected as well.
Transport of Medical Samples
Because delivering infectious materials is paramount and supplies were difficult to deliver, drones were deployed to deliver the supplies without human mishandling.
Consumer Drone Delivery
As the delivery of consumer products by drone had been discussed for years, the Chinese specifically used them to distribute food and supplies to remote islands after regular ferry service had been terminated. Following suit, Amazon, who does not want to be outdone by the Chinese, doubled their UK Prime Air drone delivery arm as just another example of how companies are implementing disruptive innovations.
Supply Chain Disruptions
I wrote previously about shipping containers are not where they are needed because there is a severe shortage of shipping containers in the People’s Republic of China and supply chains will never be the same.
The pandemic has been a big wake-up call for the supply chain management. Check this Harvard Business Review article Coronavirus Is a Wake-Up Call for Supply Chain Management.
Blockchain technology is rapidly coming out of the research labs in solving supply chain problems. Blockchain in conjunction with the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, will be instrumental in tracking, tracing, and verifying supply chains.
The closing of schools, restaurants, and other foodservice businesses during the lockdown played havoc with the food supply chain, and A lot of food ended up being dumped because there was no way for the food products to get to the consumers. I believe we will see tremendous innovations in the food supply chain in the coming years through the use of blockchain and IoT.
What Does This Mean to You?
Notice that most of these technologies have been around for years but it took the global pandemic to accelerate their adoption.
These and other disruptive innovations will continue to be adopted and, I believe, their adoption will be accelerated in ways that we cannot imagine.
Now is the time to get educated on each of these technologies.
How can you apply this to solve problems in your area of expertise?
Pick an area you believe that you can apply quickly and look for quality training/educations where you can immerse yourself. There are many low-cost or free resources from which to choose. For example, MIT offers a Blockchain Technologies course that is entirely online. Edx.org, is an online clearinghouse for university online education and has a catalog of courses from IBM, Columbia, Harvard, and others.
Then, do what I suggested in my previous post, How Have You Been Successful in Dealing with Industry Disruption, and brand yourself around what you are learning, get in front of the disruptive innovation, and take this time to move to the front of the pack.
What are you going to do to adapt to disruptive innovation?