What Comes After COVID? Ten Possibilities.

I’m already working--virtually, of course--with clients on what the post-COVID future may hold.

One trend is clear: the “virtualization” of our world has greatly accelerated. Work from home, telemedicine, virtual shopping, distance learning, socializing, exercise: more activities than we might imagine will move to the virtual world during the rest of this decade.  This will impact almost all sectors of business and society.  The challenge will be to choose wisely what should stay in the real world and what can be better done virtually.

A few more possibilities:

- Renewed trust in science.  Following WWII, the polio epidemic spawned bizarre theories about cause and treatment.  When vaccination succeeded in the late 50s, science gained new authority.

- Instead of fully restaffing, business will invest in artificial intelligence and robotics.

- Mass tourism will decline, in favor of small scale experience-oriented travel.

- Businesses will move to either “luxury, full-service” or “everyday low prices,” with diminishing focus on the middle market.

- A new focus on personal wellness, with widespread use of apps and wearable health sensors.    

- Hyper-local social networks and community organization will grow in importance.  The “sharing economy” may come to mean actual sharing, rather than Uber.

- Consumers will seek a sense of control and sustainability in their personal lives: health, shopping, transportation and more.

- Society will rethink the size, influence and responsibilities of social media and Big Tech.

- The COVID crisis will transition into another crisis: weather disasters due to climate change.  We apply tools and practices from COVID to this next threat.

And one final, hopeful prediction:

- Scientists master rapid vaccination development, governments create smart global health monitoring systems, and COVID becomes the last human pandemic in history.