We’ve witnessed new solutions and new companies coming to the fore. As we approach 2021 and it is clear that the pandemic will continue for some time and its effects will be felt throughout the coming year, we’re taking a look at the technologies that are worth investing in right now.
2020 was undoubtedly the year of e-commerce and there is little doubt about which direction our shopping habits are moving in. It was a terrible year on the high street and uncertainty remains about what the future will bring. For an indication of how brands are reacting, look no further than clothing giant Inditex (owner of brands such as Zara and Mango), which has decided to close 1,200 stores after suffering hard from the global lockdown. However, taking a look at the balance sheet, the company announced that it would investing huge amounts in its online channels and has essentially set course for future in e-commerce regardless of how the high street reacts.
We have also seen a huge increase in online grocery shopping for both large retail chains and small local producers. Even restaurants that we’re unable to welcome customers turned into delicatessens to sell the ingredients for their dishes to the public. The pandemic has forced the last skeptics who held out against online shopping to try e-commerce and they have found it to be less complicated than they imagined, even for smaller businesses. It is definitely worth investing in technologies and solutions supporting e-commerce.
The pandemic has shown us that the real heroes are doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other staff who care about our health. In order to limit the spread of the coronavirus, there are thousands of innovations being developed all over the world.
For example, pregnant women require special care and regular monitoring but are vulnerable to illness and should limit visits to doctors surgeries which can be potential virus hotspots. Pregnabit is an app that monitors the child’s CTG and the mother’s heart rate. This device has come to the aid of all future mothers and gives us a glimpse of what the future of medicine looks like—especially as a zero-waste rental solution.
Along with such innovations, telemedicine is also worth investing in right now. What was once unappealing to many and held back by red tape has been widely adopted and people are already comfortable with the idea of discussing symptoms with doctors over the phone. The last year has seen a major shift in the way we approach medicine as both healthcare providers and as patients. Some sources even predict that the future of medicine will be special telemedicine kiosks.
Experts estimate that due to the coronavirus pandemic, international tourism in 2020 will drop by up to 80%. On the other hand, that means a significant increase in domestic and local tourism.
A McKinsey report anticipates that it will take four to seven years to return to the level of 2019 overseas tourism. The summer season 2020 showed that we now choose locations closer to home and, in contrast to package holidays, we lean more toward websites such as Booking.com or Airbnb when going local.
This area will continue to develop and it is worth taking a closer look at investment opportunities in local tourism, as well as in booking technologies and marketplaces.
Even before the pandemic, we could observe a series of large-scale cyber attacks and we have recently seen that hackers are also using the pandemic to access and steal important data. One of the factors that has made this easier is remote work, as people often work on private equipment on poorly secured networks. Hackers also send e-mails containing “important” information about the pandemic as phishing scams and have even found ways to hack meetings on the Zoom platform. An investment in cybersecurity and related technologies is never a bad choice but now it is even wiser than ever.
The pandemic has been a tipping point for 3D printing. It was a technology that had potential but has suddenly shown its real value. For example, in recent months, it has been possible to fill the gaps in specialized protective masks using 3D printing technology.
Printers also helped in the rapid development of prototypes of devices supporting the fight against the pandemic, such as the VentilAid ventilator.
What was once a gimmick and a brilliant idea without much practical use has now become a genuine real-time solution to pressing problems in numerous industries. It’s ripe for investment right now.
New office technologies
2020 has changed our perception of remote work. It’s no longer a privilege for the few and we have seen that it is possible to organize complex processes involving huge teams in a dispersed model. However, it’s not the end of the office. Some companies need to work on-site and many workers find it preferable to working at home in non-ideal conditions. We are also social creatures and even the best digital tools cannot replace human contact on a long-term basis.
The return to the office will start to gather steam in 2021 but it has to be safe. We envisage new roles in organizations, especially that of a COVID Administrator who will be an safety and logistics expert in the company and manage the return of workers to the office. These Administrators will also need specially-designed new technologies to help with their work and these present huge investment opportunities in 2021. Some of the unicorns of the next few years will start out as small applications to help people get back to the office.
The misconceptions around robots taking on the tasks of humans have been obliterated by the realities of the pandemic. Where humans now fear to go, we can send robots to disinfect rooms with UVD. They look like larger versions of household vacuum cleaners and disinfect rooms in a similar way to popular iRobots.
Delivery robots are still being tested, but as we have seen, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of any technologies that eliminate the risks associated with human contact. We will soon see delivery robots on city streets and all such technology is a good opportunity for investment in 2021.