There is always a silver lining. As #covid19 keeps the world awake, progress is being made in some areas for example adoption of innovative service delivery models. Internet banking, remote working, online education, mobile apps uptake, and many digital solutions.
Enter the isolation economy
As the world braces itself for an extended lockdown period, technology is the only channel that is keeping the world connected. No passenger flights. Total transport lockdown. No gatherings.
The internet and mobile communications have been a real gamechanger in disseminating information about the state of the virus, how it spreads and measures to stay alive. Without technology, one wonders how the world would have copped.
Innovation amid risk
The relationship between risk management and strategy is innovation. Whenever there is a challenge or a risk, new ideas are developed to address it. The viability of the ideas is assessed, and future growth trajectory explored. That is how the world has been able to achieve.
The current challenge is #covid19.
It has found the world unprepared due to poor global pandemic risk management. Bill Gates warned the world leaders in a TED Talk around 2015. He said, “the world is not prepared for a viral pandemic.” And his words have come true.
The most powerful nation on earth, the United States of America, finds itself inadequately prepared to handle all the #covid19 cases. Key supplies like masks and other protective gear are in short supply. In New York, the cases keep increasing and this calls for the need for ventilators to ease the patient’s breathing problems. But there are not enough ventilators! The same challenge is happening in Europe and Iran, and other countries where the virus is fast spreading. This could be to the fact that the economy outsourced the manufacturing of many essentials to other countries, which in this period of the pandemic, find themselves unable to meet local and foreign needs.
But innovation starts where problems stop.
America is already exploring the option of having one ventilator serve two patients at the same time. Currently, the country is said to have over 7,000 ventilators in all hospitals combined. However, they have about 30,000 people who need them. The quick solution of modifying the ventilator to serve two people at the same time could save an additional 7,000. That is terrific. You see, ventilators cannot easily be made within 14 days, yet the current crisis requires them to be available the soonest – within 14 days. That is where the problem comes.
Masks and ventilator challenge aside, humanity has achieved a lot by solving problems.
How do you move from one place to another? Ford invented the T-model car and it became an industry standard. From then on, great vehicle models arrived. And we have been enjoying the rides.
How do you move from one place of the world to another across seas, mountains, and islands? Use an aeroplane. The innovation introduced a new industry – the aviation industry and transformed global tourism. So many things changed with aviation including the new aspirations to explore the galaxies.
I could go on and on.
And now #covid19.
Many people are embracing the internet and mobile banking. There has been a reported increase in the uptake of online transactions. People must keep their social distance. Technology is the solution to that.
And now online education.
For long, face to face education has characterized our education systems. Not any more. The closure of schools in Uganda has forced schools to embrace online learning. Many schools have created online forums and platforms or embraced the existing open-source ones.
When the government announced the closure of schools, many schools embraced e-learning. They posted study materials and coursework for the respective classes. This has been appreciated. Now schools are partnering with media houses specifically television and private videographers to capture live lessons. As schools invest in technology, for now, they are taking advantage of YouTube, Facebook, and other platforms to share content. Others are using Google learning tools. The future is bright.
Many have responded to the challenge by opening social media accounts and live streaming channels. They have invested in video and audio to meet the spiritual needs of their followers. For long, the Church and other religions have lagged behind modernity which to some extent has caused increasing churn as people prefer to stay home watching television or working on their laptops.
However, at a Church like Mbuya, innovation is taking place. Daily mass is streamed live on Facebook. This is commendable. People more than before, need God’s mercy.
The EU start-ups announced on March 19, 2020 “Urgent call for startups with Coronavirus solutions to apply for €164 million European Commission funding”. The EU understands that now is the time for life-changing innovations that the world is waiting for.
As people stay at home, the economy is stagnating because the tools of the trade are located at the places of work. New solutions and capabilities must be devised quickly to get the people back to work without leaving their homes.
Such solutions shall be a gamechanger. And that is why the EU startup is providing an urgent call because good luck is when preparation meets opportunity. For sure new solutions shall emerge, the challenge will be the timing.
Winners shall be those entrepreneurs providing novel solutions today.
The future of working is arriving early. Now is the time to embrace remote working. Invest in tools and gadgets that are mobile for all working class as well as create interconnections that are secure between home and work so that employees have the flexibility of the work station. In times like these, the focus is on profitability and value-adding performance outcomes. The employer must focus on defining the targets. It is up to the employee to provide a budget and their preferred way to work – from home or on-site.
This is the future that has arrived early. Embrace it.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.