World against COVID-19. Our colleagues' thoughts about the situation: Luiz Moutinho

May 04, 2020

Luiz Moutinho, Professor, BA, MA, Ph.D., FCIM, Visiting Professor of Marketing, Suffolk Business School, University of Suffolk, England. Adjunct Professor of Marketing, Graduate School of Business, University of the South Pacific, Fiji. Visiting Professor of Marketing, Universidade Europeia and the Marketing School, Portugal.

Will coronavirus change society and the world?

SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the broad family of viruses known as coronaviruses. Covid-19 is the illness and medical condition that stems from the specific virus. Each SARS-CoV-2 virus is approximately 50–200 nanometres in diameter. As information on the virus deluges traditional and social media, the WHO (World Health Organisation) warns that societies around the world are facing an “infodemic” – an “overabundance” of information that makes it difficult for people to identify truthful and trustworthy sources from false or misleading ones.

Coronavirus Economy: Recession or depression?

Economic Pandemic – With Covid-19’s expansion around the world, it was only a matter of time before the stock markets reacted to the new danger. The crash finally occurred in the week ending February 28, when leading stock markets around the world faced their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. U.S. stocks lost nearly 12% and $3.5 trillion was erased for U.S.-listed stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 12% for the week. MSCI’s world index, which tracks almost 50 countries, was down over 1% once Europe opened and almost 10% for the week – the worst since October 2008. European shares ended the week down roughly 1.5 trillion US dollars in their worst weekly performance since the 2008 financial crisis. The pan-regional STOXX 600 index fell 3.5%. Asian stocks incurred significant losses: China’s Shenzhen stocks led losses among major markets regionally as they closed sharply lower. The Shenzhen component was 4.8% lower. The Shanghai composite was down 3.71%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 2.42%. The Nikkei 225 dropped 3.67%. In Q2, the economy in France had a decline of 6% and in Germany 9.8%. In Portugal, the cost of COVID-19 will represent 48% of its GDP. The UK will have a reduction of its GDP of 6%. It is expected that the UK economy will shrink by 35%. The Chinese economy is expected to contract by 6.8%. According to IMF estimates, the world economy will also shrink by 40%.
The world trade is expected to suffer a decline between 13 and 32%. It is estimated that the world will experience 25 million jobs lost. The EU exports are expected to drop by 9.2%.
There is no set definition for a "depression", but when a country is faced with a prolonged economic downturn that is measured in years, rather than quarters, then you can be pretty certain it is experiencing a depression. Some think that it will be similar to the 1930s… the Great Depression.
No one can say for sure what the future holds. Some economists believe that economic activity may actually pick up in the second half of this year, depending on government stimulus packages, when the coronavirus crisis peaks other factors.
Extreme capitalism is equivalent to a situation of chaos. Is this the end of traditional capitalism?
So… what we need is a different economic mindset. We tend to think of the economy as the way we buy and sell things, mainly consumer goods. But this is not what an economy is or needs to be. At its core, the economy is the way we take our resources and turn them into the things we need to live. From this perspective, we can start to see more opportunities for living differently that allow us to produce less stuff… De-consumption against Excessive Consumerism. Demarketing.

What is lost in this traditional focus on encouraging individual consumption – the "me" economy – is a recognition of how rapidly technologies, market transformations and different values are changing consumer experiences to create a more interdependent "we" economy.
The fact that so many people work pointless jobs is partly why we are so ill prepared to respond to Covid-19. The pandemic is highlighting that many jobs are not essential, yet we lack sufficient key workers to respond when things go bad. People are compelled to work pointless jobs because in a society where exchange value is the guiding principle of the economy, the basic goods of life are mainly available through markets. This means you have to buy them, and to buy them you need an income, which comes from a job.
We will never return to the … normal! There will be a profound social agitation.
One of the things the Covid-19 crisis could be doing, is expanding that economic imagination. As governments and citizens take steps that seemed impossible three months ago, our ideas about how the world works can change rapidly. There is the possibility of longer-term change that makes us happier and helps us tackle climate change.
Can the huge shifts in our way of life introduced as part of the fight against Covid-19 pave the way for a more humane economy? There are a number of possible futures, all of which depend on how governments and society respond to coronavirus and its economic aftermath. Hopefully, we will use this crisis to rebuild, produce something better and more humane. Times of upheaval are always times of radical change. Some believe the pandemic is a once-in-a-generation chance to remake society and build a better future.

We are entering an Era of New Renaissance

Coronavirus is changing us as a society. Individualism, nationalism and free market economy could not surmount this crisis. Instead, in an emergency, it was common purpose, collectivism and social partnership that stepped up.
All this shape shifting creates important questions about what the future looks like. In the moments that are fleeting right now because of the relentless pace of events, the question arises of what the world will look like five years from now, because only one thing is certain: this crisis will put the world on a different axis. The global financial crisis, which was the biggest global economic shock since the Depression, triggered a fundamental realignment. Nativism and protectionism resurfaced. Current indications suggest this pandemic will inflict a more substantial economic shock than the global financial crisis (GFC), because our capacity to pump prime domestic economies is curtailed.
Now is the time for everybody in any nation to care about one another sufficiently to show up and play our respective roles in a democracy, particularly at a time when parliament is suspended, and civil liberties are being curtailed in the service of saving lives. What is then the outlook for democratic governments post-pandemic – implicitly, there is a much simpler question in the interim, and it is this. Will governments prove their worth by managing this crisis to the best of their ability, or will they fail their citizens? No one knows the answer, but everyone knows that a lot hangs on it ... lives, livelihoods, and the future of liberal democracy. There is a concern that state surveillance through technological means will become the new normal after all the extraordinary measures that have been taken in order to control the pandemic.
Disasters open up human reserves of improvisation, solidarity and resolve, pockets of purpose and joy, even in the midst of loss and pain. The optimists believe there is hope that we can begin to see the world differently. Maybe we can view our problems as shared, and society as more than just a mass of individuals competing against each other for wealth and standing. Maybe, in short, we can understand that the logic of the market should not dominate as many spheres of human existence as we currently allow.
One lesson of the coronavirus crisis is the power of shared emotion, which helped make possible radical action to slow the pandemic. Another aspect is the increased value of the interaction between humans.
Although Covid-19 is likely the biggest global crisis since the second world war, it is still dwarfed in the long term by climate change. Yet the two problems have suggestive similarities. Both will require unusual levels of global cooperation. Both demand changes in behaviour today in the name of reducing suffering tomorrow. But it is not unimaginable that the experience of Covid-19 could help us understand climate change differently. As the virus has reduced industrial activity and road traffic, air pollution has plummeted. Tackling both Covid-19 and climate change is much easier if you reduce non-essential economic activity. For climate change, this is because if you produce less stuff, you use less energy, and emit fewer greenhouse gases.
In these testing times we cannot afford to waste this crisis, innovation and new ways of thinking are the priority and will help both businesses and society survive and accelerate recovery.
Digital technologies have already helped us collaborate but perhaps the pandemic will help us make better use of these tools to “hyper collaborate” virtually and share information more freely (we need positive interactions during these times) to help us cope and recover.
What about the response from different generations? Coronavirus quarantine? Gen X was made for this. Boomers and Gen Z, not so much. Who is generation X and why does self-isolating come so easy to them? Gen X says they are better prepared for the coronavirus pandemic than any other generation. One theory is that Gen X might have more experience working through tumultuous times, as they were in the workforce during other pivotal times like 9/11 and the 2008 stock market crash. As health officials are encouraging people to practice social distancing, in order to control the coronavirus outbreak, Gen X thinks they are uniquely prepared to deal with the situation.
In every crisis, there is an opportunity. Amid a global pandemic, it looks like Gen X has finally found their opportunity. As the generation raises in the age of stranger danger and Just Say No, their inherent risk aversion is finally being recognized as a great strength and asset to the survival of the species. Their independent streak was fostered by their need to fend for themselves, while their boomer parents toiled for long hours at work, making them more than comfortable with self-reliance. Yes, a global pandemic has now become yet another generational divide. Headlines have called out Generation Z and Millennials for their inability to skip brunch, chastised the boomers for not taking the threat to their health more seriously and celebrated the Gen X talent for hanging out and doing nothing…

Pandtech - Some Viable Solutions

Society needs to assure that human beings and the planet will benefit from the technological progress.
Coronavirus has made WFH (Work from Home) ‘The New Normal’.
The coronavirus pandemic will almost certainly have a long-lasting impact on society and culture as a whole, probably the likes of which have not been seen since WW2. As horrible as the pandemic is, we think businesses will mature in their working practices in areas of remote working and virtual services provision as a result.
How can Virtual Reality help? In a typical discussion, a lot of information is non-verbal communication – this can be transcribed in VR. Voice tone, hesitations, head, and hand movements greatly improve the understanding of the participants' emotions and intents. 3D is a natural communication language overcoming linguistic barriers as well as technical jargon. You can import custom environments or 3D objects, and you can work together via interactive whiteboards. Participants can also revisit simulations to better process and record the content. With the saturation that is beginning to be felt in hospitals in more and more countries around the world, VR is the best way to make doctors more comfortable with the diagnosis/treatment of a condition they have never seen before. Indeed, preparing doctors to treat a disease they have never had first-hand experience of before.
Within the business realm, with Virtual Reality applications that offer interactive and educational experiences for potential customers, there is no reason to stop outreach.

Can Other Technologies Like AI (Artificial Intelligence) Help Out?

Well, interestingly enough, it already has.
Just look at BlueDot, which is a venture-backed start-up. The company has built a sophisticated AI platform that processes billions of pieces data, such as from the world’s air travel network, to identity outbreaks. They are currently using natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to process vast amounts of unstructured text data, currently in 65 languages, to track outbreaks of over 100 different diseases, every 15 minutes around the clock. AI could predict the number of potential new cases by area and which types of populations will be at risk the most. There is also the use of machine learning to evaluate and optimize strategies for social distancing (quarantine) between communities, cities, and countries to control the spread of epidemics. Machine learning is very good at identifying patterns in data, such as risk factors that can identify zip/postal codes or cohorts of people that are connected to the virus.
Researchers at the British artificial intelligence start-up Benevolent AI say they used the tech to search for existing approved drugs that could help limit the virus infection.
AI-Enabled Drug Development – Artificial Intelligence is an ideal partner in drug development because it can accelerate and complement human endeavours. Our current reality will inform future efforts to deploy AI in drug development.

IBM Watson Assistant for Citizens

IBM has announced the launch of Watson Assistant for Citizens, a new chatbot solution available to government agencies, health care institutions, and academic organizations free of charge for 90 days. The hope is that by tapping AI technologies like natural language processing, it will triage residents looking for guidance on COVID-19, which has affected 204 countries to date. Online, by text, or by phone, the Watson Assistant for Citizens virtual agent – which brings together IBM’s Watson Assistant and Watson Discovery services and AI capabilities from IBM Research – draws on the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and local sources like links to school closings, news and documents on state websites, and more to answer natural language questions about the novel coronavirus. For instance, Watson Assistant for Citizens automates responses to commonly posed queries like “What are the symptoms?”, “How do I clean my home properly?”, and “How do I protect myself?”. Watson Assistant for Citizens includes 15 pretrained intents (i.e., queries) and dialogue flows out of the box, and it can integrate with backend enterprise resource planning systems to incorporate information related to specific cities or regions. For instance, state government agencies can choose to have the virtual agent address questions like “What are cases in my neighbourhood?”, “How long are schools shut down?”, and “Where can I get tested?”.
Watson Assistant for Citizens is available in English and Spanish, but it can be tailored to up to 13 different languages. IBM says it is already being used by government and health care agencies across the U.S., as well as by organizations in the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, U.K., etc.
Watson Assistant for Citizens’ debut comes after IBM made available a map on The Weather Channel to track the spread of COVID-19, mainly using data from governments and the World Health Organization. The company also built a dashboard on top of its Cognos Analytics suite, which is designed to help researchers, data scientists, and media analyze and filter coronavirus information down to the county level.
In March 2020, IBM announced it would coordinate an effort to make supercomputing capacity available to researchers in order to help identify treatments, viable mitigation strategies, and vaccines for COVID-19. It also launched a new Call for Code Global Challenge that would encourage developers to build open source technologies that address several areas, including crisis communication during an emergency, ways to improve remote learning, and how to inspire cooperative local communities.IBM is not the only organization deploying chatbots to keep folks informed of COVID-19 developments, of course. Building atop Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a COVID-19 assessment bot that can assess symptoms, provide information, and suggest next courses of action. Elsewhere, start-up Quiq collaborated with the city of Knoxville, Tennessee to deploy a chatbot via its website and a mobile app, and Jefferson City, Missouri announced that it’s working on a bot that can answer questions online.

The Indian government teamed up with Facebook’s WhatsApp to launch a COVID-19 informational chatbot called MyGov Corona Helpdesk. The U.K.’s National Health Service is also in talks with WhatsApp to set up a dedicated chatbot. And Pakistan collaborated with start-up Botsify to create a bot that connects users with the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination in Islamabad.
We have been led to believe that robots and AI are replacing humans en masse. But this economic catastrophe is blowing up that myth.

How Robots Are Helping to Fight the Coronavirus Outbreak

Robotic technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are increasingly being used during these exceptional times as has been seen in China, which has used disinfecting robots and thermal camera-equipped drones amongst other gadgets to fight coronavirus.
An explosion of disruptive robotics start-ups has created a vibrant – but fragile – network of rapidly developing supply chains and collaborations.
The key areas where robots can help are clinical care, logistics, and reconnaissance, which refers to tasks like identifying the infected or making sure people comply with quarantines or social distancing requirements. Outside of the medical sphere, robots could also help keep the economy and infrastructure going by standing in for humans in factories or vital utilities like waste management or power plants.

Increased Reliance on Robots

Robots are not susceptible to viruses. Whether they are used to deliver groceries or to take vitals in a healthcare system or to keep a factory running, companies realize how robots could support us today and play an important role in a post-COVID-19 world or during a future pandemic.
China, the USA, and Europe are using robots to replace and help humans fight coronavirus by delivering groceries, sanitizing hospitals, and monitoring patients. A hospital ward staffed entirely by robots opened in China.
Self-driving Danish disinfection robots are now shipping to a number of hospitals in China to help fight the coronavirus, also called COVID-19. Robots play an important role in fighting the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 around the globe. Disinfection robot UVD – ultraviolet environmental disinfection – for example, has been in high demand since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chinese hospitals have ordered more than 2,000 UVD robots by Danish manufacturer Blue Ocean Robotics. They started to destroy viruses in Wuhan, where the global pandemic began. With ultraviolet light, the Danish robot can disinfect and kill viruses and bacteria autonomously, effectively limiting the spread of coronaviruses without exposing hospital staff to the risk of infection.
Now sold in more than 40 countries, UVD Robots is already delivering its self-driving disinfection robots to hospitals in other parts of Asia in addition to healthcare markets in Europe and the United States. The invention increases the safety of both staff, patients and their relatives, by reducing the risk of contact with bacteria, viruses and other harmful microorganisms. The concentrated UV-C light emitted by the robots as they drive has a germicidal effect that removes almost all airborne viruses and bacteria on the surfaces of a room.

UVD Robot.png

UVD Robot

“UVD Robot” by Blue Ocean Robotics drives autonomously and eliminates bacteria and other harmful microorganisms in hospitals. Robots use light beams to zap hospital viruses.
Shenzhen-based YouiBot already produced autonomous robots and quickly adapted its technology to make a disinfection device.
Healthcare has become a perfect environment for technology. Hospitals are semi-structured environments, making them well-suited to roving robots. There is also a severe labour crunch in healthcare, particularly with nurses. Telepresence robots enable smaller staffs to have a broader reach. Other important application is that surgical experts can beam to any location on earth and provide surgical consults or perform actual surgeries via a telepresence robot.

WeChat Droid.png

Guangdong Health Commission / WeChat Droid

The Tunisian-built surveillance robots, called PGuards

Tunisia deploys police robot on lockdown patrol. A police robot has been deployed to patrol areas of Tunisia's capital, Tunis, to ensure that people are observing a coronavirus lockdown. If it spies anyone walking in the largely deserted streets, it approaches them and asks why they are out. They must then show their ID and other papers to the robot's camera, so officers controlling it can check them.



VR is a fantastic example of how brands can engage audiences remotely, without the need for a human gathering, whilst still providing a ‘live’ experience that puts the viewer at the heart of a face-to-face event. It also enables us to collect lots of rich, personalised data for measurement that can aid future campaigns.
If your brand generally engages huge audiences and has traditionally relied on sampling and couponing consumers at large events like festivals, there is now an amazing virtual alternative – Virtual Atoms (vAtom) – a trend just beginning to hit the marketing industry.
vAtom is a platform that allows the distribution of infinite digital tokens into the virtual sphere. They are built on a blockchain platform, so they will have a real, true value, which means they cannot be replicated or mal-redeemed, and they give brands the opportunity to virtually engage millions of potential customers on a one-on-one basis, without any direct contact.
These digital tokens can be designed in any way – static digital elements or moving CGI (computer-generated imagery) avatars. They can be programmed to do anything we like, such as move, speak and expire. They can even be influenced by the weather or social media. They can be set to any value from pennies, to free access, holidays, even a million pounds, and they can be placed anywhere around the globe. You are literally only limited by your imagination.
Because vAtoms is at the forefront of this new digital ‘explosion’, it can be used as part of a wider, always-on, integrated campaign from mediums as diverse as TV and digital, to printed material such as posters, press, POS and even packaging.
"Virtual worlds for work" are no longer just a marketing angle, but something we need soon: It may actually help save lives and keep the economy from tanking further.

The Rise of the New Bio-Citizen

These bio-citizens are pursuing a range of activities from analyses of genomic data for diagnosing rare diseases, identification of potential therapeutic drugs, organization and crowdfunding of clinical trial cohorts, and even self-surveillance or self-experimentation. There are concerns such as knowledge legitimacy, and the ethical and governance challenges faced by bio-citizens... The next step is to foster legitimacy for citizen-driven biomedical innovation by supporting citizens and patients to document and share their data, evidence and ethical concerns in ongoing conversations with regulators and society at large.
This is just one example of an upstart revolution where citizens are deciding not to wait around for a cure or even a diagnosis. From analyzing their own genetics and mastering genome editing on simple bacterial and viral cells to prototyping surgical devices, these “bio-citizens” are using newly available biotechnologies and resources to better understand and improve their health.

Health Information

During the pandemic, we are worried that our data protection practices might not meet our usual standard or our response to information rights requests will be longer.
One area of focus is around what can be done with health information of individuals who can be identified from the information. While it is important to ensure that appropriate protection continues to be given to personal data and that medical confidentiality is respected, it is also inevitable that many organisations, including employers and service providers, will need to process more personal data relating to the health of their employees or customers than before.
In the years ahead, we will need to strike new social contracts between governments, citizens and technology companies that earn the informed consent of citizens and maximise the public good that comes with modern digital capabilities. If the coronavirus pandemic kickstarts those conversations then we may have something to look back and be thankful for.

Wearable Technology

For several years now, researchers have recognized the potential for wearables to serve as crowd-sourcing tools to track the spread of disease. Researchers investigate whether wearable apps could unveil hidden coronavirus cases. It makes sense that these vital sign-tracking wearables could be valuable in early detection of the disease.
Hospitals are grasping for creative new ways to ease the burden, such as incorporating wearables into their coronavirus efforts. Population monitoring can be achieved with most any wearable that tracks activity and heart rate.
Apple and Google are building coronavirus tracking tech into iOS and Android. The new technology relies on Bluetooth wireless radio technology to help phones communicate with one another, ultimately warning users about the people they came in contact with who are infected with the coronavirus.
To detect disease in individuals, researchers need more advanced metrics. Silicon Valley start-up Spire, for example, can track “respiratory effort” using its Health Tags, unique washable devices that adhere to the skin side of clothing. The Oura Ring, one of the only consumer-class wearables with a built-in temperature sensor. Another is the BioSticker, a medical-grade stick-able from Colorado start-up BioIntellisense. The BioSticker adheres to the chest cavity, a great spot to monitor temperature, as well as respiration and coughing frequency, two metrics closely aligned with the other Centres for Disease Control (CDC)-identified symptoms. There is also a new AI wearable that aims to fight coronavirus by preventing face-touching. The Immutouch wearable vibrates when the user’s hand enters a precalibrated position, such as near the mouth, nose or eyes. Instantaneous alerts can provide immediate intervention for habitual touchers, while vigilant users can refine good habits over time.


The Oura Ring

App makers, researchers and scientists hope the wearable fitness apps can provide data with broader implications for early detection of infectious diseases like COVID-19.
The coronavirus can convert more people to smart wearables. Industry insiders expect the epidemic to spur more innovation in smartwatches and fitness trackers. They also believe that the spread of the Covid-19 disease will spur innovative wearables with disinfectant features.

Quantified Self: The Algorithm of Life

Quantified Self (QS) is a growing global movement selling a new form of wisdom, encapsulated in the slogan “self-knowledge through numbers”.
The quantified-self movement refers to the increasing use of technology to collect data about oneself. These technologies, such as smartphone apps, GPS devices, and physical activity trackers with accelerometers, allow individuals to track all aspects of their daily lives, including their total activity, number of steps, food they eat, amount of sleep, heart rate, and mood. Such tracking not only allows individuals to learn more about themselves, but may also help them take action to become healthier and improve their lives.
Thankfully, new technologies in mainstream gadgets, such as iPhones and the Nike+, enable this kind of measurement and are fuelling the so-called Quantified Self movement, starting with the continuous tracking of various aspects of our physical bodies.
Self-trackers report that a sudden rise in resting heart rate predicts onset of symptoms by 24-48 hours. Can a rise in resting heart rate, which is now widely available, be useful in signalling us about infection risk? This would be a trigger to take extra measures to avoid infecting others. The data will also be useful for tracking public health.

More Contactless Interfaces and Interactions

Machine vision interfaces are already used today to apply social media filters and to offer autonomous checkout at some stores. Expect there to be an expansion of voice and machine vision interfaces that recognize faces and gestures throughout several industries to limit the amount of physical contact.

Strengthened Digital Infrastructure, Better Monitoring Using IoT and Big Data

We see the power of data in a pandemic in real time. The lessons we are receiving from this experience will inform how we monitor future pandemics by using internet of things technology and big data. National or global apps can result in better early warning systems because they can report and track who is showing symptoms of an outbreak. GPS data can then be used to track where exposed people have been and who they have interacted with to show contagion. Any of these efforts require careful implementation to safeguard an individual’s privacy and to prevent the abuse of the data but offer huge benefits to more effectively monitor and tackle future pandemics.

Corporate Impacts and Responses

The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) is without question testing businesses on an unprecedented scale. But having a well-designed organisation to respond flexibly and rapidly is only half the battle. Some organisations are having to rework their business models to deliver outside-the-box-offerings, while many others are grappling with the challenge of business continuity.
Economic impact. Large-scale quarantines, travel restrictions, and social-distancing measures drive a sharp fall in consumer and business spending until the end of Q2, producing a recession. Although the outbreak comes under control in most parts of the world by late in Q2, the self-reinforcing dynamics of a recession kick in and prolong the slump until the end of Q3. Consumers stay home, businesses lose revenue and lay off workers, and unemployment levels rise sharply. Business investment contracts and corporate bankruptcies soar, putting significant pressure on the banking and financial system.
Demand suffers as consumers cut spending throughout the year. In the most affected sectors, the number of corporate layoffs and bankruptcies rises throughout 2020, feeding a self-reinforcing downward spiral.
What will it take to navigate this crisis, now that our traditional metrics and assumptions have been rendered irrelevant?
Companies that navigate disruptions better often succeed because they invest in their core customer segments and anticipate their behaviours.
The task today is not to fight the virus in order to return to business as usual, because business as usual was already a disaster. The goal, instead, is to fight the virus, and in doing so transform business as usual into something more humane and secure.
Businesses reinvent themselves so that products and services can connect to consumers in new and different ways. One would expect a wave of new products, services, and content designed to encourage positive interactions and collegiality, bringing us together as humans.
Businesses who did not have an online option faced financial ruin, and those who had some capabilities tried to ramp up offerings. After COVID-19, businesses that want to remain competitive will figure out ways to have online services even if they maintain a brick-and-mortar location, and there will be enhancements to the logistics and delivery systems to accommodate surges in demand whether those are from shopper preference or a future pandemic.
As changing consumer values de-emphasize the role of traditional brands ("We make your clothes even cleaner") in favour of brands that also address societal needs ("The food we eat impacts the planet we care about"), more realistic commodity pricing strategies need to be adopted so that consumer purchases reflect the more realistic costs of pollution and other externalities (such as overconsumption of water).
The evolution from the "me" to the "we" economy, driven by technological innovation and evolving consumer expectations, will affect all major market sectors. Consumers will be able to collaborate in person and online to influence the performance of global supply chains in everything from the amount of water used in making a cell phone to inserting smart tags in our garbage to know where it goes.
Consumer products companies, such as Unilever, are increasing their efforts to cross-link their business purpose with consumer engagement and social outcomes as evidenced by their campaign to promote hand washing to both sell soap and protect public health.
Hyper Collaboration. Most of us are all for competitiveness but one needs to remember, any party that is a competitor can by definition also be an ally. And these days, perhaps should be an ally. We just have to look at the reports of scientists from around the world working together - sharing information freely - to figure out how to treat and prevent COVID-19. They will get to a better solution, much faster, than if they worked in silos. There could be a hugely net positive impact on people if corporate innovation leaders more widely adopted similar practices, no matter the vertical. While there are a few isolated examples already, for example Apple - Google in contact tracing, one would like to see “competitive collaboration” become more of a rule, not exception.
Gen X leaders are also effective in “hyper-collaboration,” and are working relentlessly to break down organizational silos. Gen X leaders’ strength for working with and through others is enabling them to shape the future of work and generate faster innovation by getting people working together to solve customers’ and their organization’s issues.
The radical changes in teleworking and homeshoring that we are experiencing will have permanent effects. Homeshoring is expanding by about 20% a year and it is on track to explode, says research company International Data Corporation (IDC). Companies are hungry for ways to cut labour costs and a growing number of workers want to apply their skills outside of a traditional office setting, yet there are still only a handful of outfits that act as a go-between between the two groups.
Telework is in many cases a win-win for employers and employees. It allows the employer to reduce real estate space, the considerable expenses of running corporate-campus kitchens and cantinas, climate control, bathroom space, even coffee and beverage expense is reduced or eliminated. An employee escapes a daily commute, may be closer to a loved one needing attention (or his or her furry pet companions), and flexibility in choice of living arrangements: for example, a choice of residence not convenient for a daily commute to the office. As companies and individuals become more conscious of issues like work-life balance or carbon emissions, telework allows companies and employees to adopt and comply with social commitments along these lines.
Coronavirus can force you home, but Telepresence Robots help you work and visit others safely with a remote presence and you can beam yourself to work in a remote-controlled body. Telepresence-robot makers are trying to bridge that gap with wheeled machines — controlled over wireless Internet connections — that give remote workers a physical presence in the workplace.
For many years, developments in holographic telepresence have been a glimpse of the technology of the future. It is now obvious that this technology is vital to connect people and may become, in part, a new normal.
New Holographic Virtual Events Will Reach Millions Amid Coronavirus Crisis. Also, Holographic meetings would help the world cut down on carbon. Furthermore, robots and holograms are bringing online learning to life.
Event organizers will figure out ways the digital aspects can complement in-person events. One can predict a steep rise in hybrid events where parts of the event take place in person, and others are delivered digitally.
There will also be a rise in Esports. Esports are thriving. There are even e-versions of F1 car racing on television, and although it might not be the same as traditional Formula 1 racing, it is giving people a "sports" outlet. Unlike mainstream sporting events, esporting events can easily transition online. Similarly to events, one can predict more hybrid sports coverage where physical events are complemented with digital offerings.
Because the bead is moving so fast, the human eye sees only the completed shape — a compelling illusion not entirely unlike the way a rapid series of still frames looks like a moving image, and scientists have invented holograms that you can see, hear and even feel, through the use of haptic screens. The device works by using ultrasound waves to trap and move a two millimeter-wide polystyrene bead around in midair. The bead traces out an object’s shape in three dimensions, while LEDs shine red, green, and blue light on it.

Crisis Management and Response

Existing business continuity plans may not be capable of handling the fast-moving and unknown variables of an outbreak like COVID-19.
What you can do now: 1. Develop incident management and scenario plans that are specific to this crisis. 2. Focus on factually and effectively communicating to stakeholders. 3. Plan on how to meet government priorities in individual countries and minimise the risk of business disruptions. 4. Test for stress, ensure liquidity and build a contingency plan.
Defining scenarios can be difficult, but businesses are advised to try to identify trigger variables that will affect revenue and cost. These triggers can then be applied to established scenarios so that cash flow, profit and loss and balance sheets can be modelled.
Contingency plans can then be drafted for varying outcomes, such as portfolio optimization through divestments, cost reduction, etc.
Demonstrating this sense of purpose will have a positive knock-on effect on colleagues, clients and the wider business community. Therefore, you need to anchor your Corporate Coronavirus Response In Compassion.
Also, it is important for companies to set up a cross-functional response team. Businesses should establish a dedicated team to ensure a simple but well-managed set of processes that maximize the health and safety of colleagues and customers.
The coronavirus is changing how we work — possibly permanently. So, companies need to know how to create shift patterns, rotas and rosters that support demand volatility and a phased return to ‘not business as usual’. Some organisations are now looking at introducing Demand-Led Rostering and Annualised Hours resourcing models to put them in a position to manage seasonality and introduce the flexibility needed to respond to potential future disruption.
Companies also need to stay “close” to customers. Businesses will need to make a concerted effort to keep customers engaged and reassured in the short term. Inventory planning, discounts and special offers will all help to incentivize current customers.

Worker Support

Here are some good and effective examples already in place.
Aldi is giving every store employee a 10% bonus for their hard work during the COVID-19 crisis.
Anheuser-Busch has temporarily increased pay for front-line employees. In addition, all full-time employees are being provided additional paid leave to address COVID-19 related illness.
Campbell’s has asked all employees and contractors who can work from home to do so. In addition, all production line employees are receiving an additional $2 per hour, and frontline supervisors an extra $100 each week.
Nestle is guaranteeing 12 weeks of regular wages in the event of a full or partial facility closure, paying eligible frontline employees an additional 12% for at least 12 weeks, and are providing up to 14 days of additional time off to employees impacted by the coronavirus.
Whole Foods, a week after announcing they were asking employees to donate their paid time off to colleagues, has updated its policies. Its new approach includes an additional $2 an hour for all employees through April, double-time for all overtime, unlimited call-outs, two weeks additional paid-time off for all those diagnosed with coronavirus or forced into quarantine, and more.

Community Support

More examples this time related to the very important Community Support.
Adobe is offering free distance learning for schools that have been impacted by coronavirus through May 31st.
Airbnb has announced it will provide free housing for 100,000 coronavirus responders around the world.
Anheuser-Busch is producing bottles of hand sanitizer to aid relief efforts, and is donating $5 million to the Red Cross to aid in COVID-19 work.
Cisco is pledging $225 million to assist with the global response to coronavirus.
Colgate-Palmolive is donating $20 million in health and hygiene products to community organizations, and has launched a gift-matching campaign with its employees, up to $1 million dollars.
Danone has committed 250 million euro to 15,000 small businesses in its ecosystem.
Facebook is giving all of its employees a $1,000 bonus to deal with coronavirus fallout. Additionally, the company is giving away $100 million in grants and assistance to 30,000 small businesses to help during this time. As of March 30th, the company has also announced it will be providing an additional $100 million to support local news outlets. Additionally, on April 6th the company announced it is working on tools to help researchers track if social-distancing is working.
John Deere has created a 2-for-1 match for employee donations up to $250,000 to select home-community food banks and American Red Cross chapters. In addition, they are offering support and relief to their financing/lease customers facing financial hardships.
Levi Strauss & Co committed $3 million to assist communities hit hard by COVID-19, and created a 3:1 employee gift matching program for coronavirus-related causes and charities.
Louis Vuitton will be creating hand sanitizer for free to help with shortages, particularly in France.
Mastercard is matching all employee donations to relief efforts, which has included funds to the China Women’s Development Foundation, local U.S. food banks, and a gift of 25,000 respirator masks to New York City hospitals. Additionally, the company has made Girls4Tech online curriculum for grades 3–7 available to parents and teachers looking for learning resources.
Miller is donating $1 million to support out-of-work bartenders during the coronavirus pandemic.
Nike has announced that, in collaboration with its foundation and partners, it will commit $15 million toward COVID-19 response efforts.
PwC Foundation is pledging $2.85 million to support communities impacted by COVID-19.
Visa Foundation is committing $210 million to support small and micro businesses through COVID-19.
Xerox is committing to mass produce disposable ventilators for U.S. hospitals.
Zoom is giving K-12 schools its videoconference tools for free.

Operational Impacts

Other types of organizational support are the ones responding to operational impacts. Here are some examples.
Delta has had more than 13,000 employees volunteer for unpaid leave in order to help the company.
Patagonia closed all of its stores and website until March 27th. All employees will be paid during the closure. Update: As of April 1st, Patagonia’s stores are still closed, and for now, their employees are continuing to be paid.
We all want to make a meaningful difference and leave a positive imprint on the world. Matching gifts are a powerful tool for engaging your employees and filling them with a sense of fulfilment and pride while enhancing your company’s collective impact. Companies need to explore creative professional development solutions.
Another good way is to offer virtual volunteering opportunities. In times of crisis, we feel the urge to help others. Give your remote employees the opportunity to serve, even as in-person group volunteering events may not be possible. Rather than allow social isolation, connect your employees with nonprofits that are making real change.
We need to be reminded of a famous quote by Henry Ford… "A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business."
Social entrepreneurs need each other. Society could also reflect a community of mission entrepreneurs – missionpreneurs - intertwined and embedded by the kinds of organizations that make up our business system. Then, we would be focusing on what really matters. Just see the classical example of Panera Bread that is to open stores where diners pay what they can afford for food.
From now on, the world and society will use a new global currency: HUMANITY.


Davidge, Joss (2020). When the Coronavirus Closes a “Door”, A New Virtual World Opens,, 3rd March .
JUST Capital (2020). Capitalism Meets Coronavirus: Our Daily Policy Blog, April 8.
Mair, Simon (2020). How will coronavirus change the world?, BBC Future, 31st of March.
Marr, Bernard (2020). 9 Future Predictions for a Post-Coronavirus World, Forbes, 3rd of April.
Taulli, Tom (2020). Coronavirus: Can AI (Artificial Intelligence) Make A Difference?, Forbes, 2nd of February.
Yosie, Terry F. and Mike Barry (2016). From the 'me' economy to the 'we' economy, Green Biz Insights, 15th of November.