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Even in the best of times, disruption is a fact of life in the business world.

These are not, of course, the best of times. And while the coronavirus pandemic has led to even greater disruption, it has led to something else -- opportunity. An opportunity for innovation. An opportunity for growth.

Some 70 percent of executives believe that will be the case, according to McKinsey. In particular, they assert that COVID-19 will present opportunities for growth in the following sectors: technology, consumer packaged goods, pharmaceutical/medical supplies, financial services, retail, and healthcare systems/services.

At the same time, McKinsey notes that only the pharmaceutical/medical supply space has to this point fully embraced innovation amid the crisis. The rapid development of a vaccine (a process that normally takes years) is proof positive of that. But the other sectors seem certain to follow suit. In fact, it is incumbent upon them to do so, as McKinsey further notes that those businesses that innovate during a crisis tend to be far better off after a crisis than those that do not.

The message is abundantly clear, then: Innovate, or suffer the consequences. Yet there are some companies that continue to suffer from what was once identified by Qmarkets as Innovation Management Anxiety. The post went on to say that such an affliction can result from the following:

  • Preparation angst (CEO countermeasure: setting clear goals);
  • Fear over losing control (Countermeasure: engaging employees);
  • Fear over cybersecurity (Countermeasure: dedicated software to fend off hackers);
  • Fear of failure (Countermeasure: striking a balance between daring and a conservative approach).

It’s imperative to stay ahead of the technological curve, something we have always endeavored to do at The Allure Group. In fact, many of the technological innovations we instituted before the pandemic have proven invaluable during this crisis. 

Consider, for instance, our PadInMotion technology, where a Samsung tablet is provided at all 1,400 bedsides in our six facilities. While these tablets were previously used by residents for entertainment and stress-relief purposes, residents now use them to contact loved ones during government-imposed lockdowns, via audio and video chats.

In addition, our remote contact-free patient-monitoring system, EarlySense, enables staff to keep tabs on patients’ vital signs, as well as their turning and positioning. And finally, Vis a Vis technology allows recently discharged patients to make a virtual appointment with doctors, courtesy of a hand-held device. That same device allows healthcare professionals to track patients’ vital signs.

Here are some other technological trends that will define the business world in 2021:

5G

This is an ongoing saga. AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have all begun rolling out 5G -- i.e., the fifth generation of wireless technology -- with its promises of speeds as great as 100 times that of 4G, and decreased latency. Nationwide coverage, followed by worldwide coverage, are the ultimate goals.

That has vast implications for the public at large, but even greater implications for industry. There is some expectation that it will result in the Fourth Industrial Revolution -- a.k.a., Industry 4.0 -- with more efficient manufacturing and more durable supply chains. (The latter is of particular interest, given how brittle supply chains have proven to be, in the wake of COVID-19.) In addition, there is a higher likelihood of personalized shopping, smart cities and autonomous vehicles.

In the healthcare sector, 5G will improve patient monitoring (as with EarlySense) and communication (as with PadInMotion). It will make Vis a Vis and telehealth/telemedicine platforms that much more efficient as well. The challenge ahead is making 5G accessible in rural areas, as there is an acute need for such platforms there, given the dearth of healthcare professionals.

Artificial Intelligence/Robotics

Again, this marks the continuation of a trend. Taken individually, AI and robotics have had a considerable impact on industry. Together, their impact will be that much more keenly felt.

Modern robots, equipped with smart sensors, have more wide-ranging capabilities than their predecessors, which followed a predetermined path. Moreover, machine learning enables robots to expand their capabilities further still.

AI and robotics have impacted healthcare in a wide variety of ways, including wellness, diagnosis, detection, decision-making, treatment, end-of-life care, research, and training. Consider, for instance, surgical robots that use AI to determine best practices and improve future accuracy. Consider wearables that, in combination with AI, enable healthcare professionals to detect heart disease. Consider social robots for isolated seniors. The possibilities are nearly limitless.

The Internet of Behavior (IoB)

An offshoot of the Internet of Things (i.e., the world of interconnected devices) the Internet of Behavior (IoB) involves the collection and examination of data about people from various gadgets. Together, that information reveals likes, dislikes, spending habits, etc.

It is expected, in fact, that by 2023, 40 percent of the global population will be tracked. Certainly that trend is valuable to marketers, who can steer folks in the direction of preferred goods and services. But it is no less valuable to those in the healthcare field. 

Specific to the pandemic, RFID tags can be used to track whether those in the workplace are washing their hands or maintaining social distancing. And it’s not too difficult to see such technology being used by healthcare professionals to track patients’ habits: Are they eating healthy foods? Are they active? Are they showing signs of illness? While there are certainly privacy concerns, there is also a great deal of valuable information that can be gained from the IoB.

Upskilling

With automation in full swing, there have been some predictions of widespread job loss, and other forecasts that there will actually be a net gain. Suffice it to say that the workforce is undergoing cataclysmic change, and that CEOs must be agile and forward-thinking -- that they must understand there will be new jobs requiring new skill sets, and they must retrain the rank and file to fill those needs.

Forbes notes that such corporate giants as Amazon and AT&T are ahead of the curve, having already made substantial investments in upskilling initiatives, and that outlet further pointed out that there are at least four other ways to navigate this shifting landscape.

The bottom line is that while technology will be a large part of the picture going forward, it is not the entire picture. Some flesh-and-blood factors still come into play, and that will remain the case.

About the Author(s)

 Joel  Landau

Joel Landau is the founder and chairman of The Allure Group, a rapidly expanding provider of skilled nursing and rehabilitation services throughout the New York downstate area. The Allure Group transforms nursing homes into post-acute rehabilitation centers that are attentive to the needs of residents when it comes to their health, comfort, culture, and quality of life. Landau is also...

Founder and Chairman, The Allure Group
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