Pandemics generally have lasting effects on social, economic, cultural and religious norms. The Bubonic Plague contributed to the emergence of the Renaissance era. The Spanish Flu of 1918 led to the rise of socialized medicine in Europe and an insurance-based system in the United States. What new normal will the COVID-19 pandemic give rise to—and what does it mean for businesses or investors?
Long before COVID-19 came on the scene, the internet had already revolutionized the way we do business. Many businesses moved from selling their goods and services in person to selling them online. Nevertheless, as we have sought to contain the spread of COVID-19 through lockdowns and social distancing, our reliance on technology—particularly the internet—has accelerated exponentially. As a result, we are seeing a paradigm shift in the world of commerce, education and entertainment.
Most of these changes have taken place in how we connect. Businesses and universities have now discovered they can operate without a huge physical footprint. And once-emerging concepts like telemedicine are quickly becoming mainstream. In West Virginia, the Department of Health and Human Resources has implemented virtual counseling and medical support. In Salt Lake City, dermatologists were reluctant to adopt telehealth. But thanks to COVID-19, they are now holding 40 percent of appointments via virtual visit.
LOOKING TO FINANCE? LOOKING TO INVEST?
In a sense, COVID-19 has triggered a pilot study for remote work on a grand scale. And this has provided the perfect environment to prove business concepts like that of Printforia—which has experienced its best quarter ever during one of the worst economic downturns of our lifetime. Starting with on-demand garment printing, Printforia is collapsing the multiple stages in traditional supply chains into a single intelligent production process that is more visible, agile and drastically efficient. The company is creating Supply Chain Zero™.
That said, not everyone can do their jobs from home. Manufacturing, construction, healthcare workers and first responders certainly can’t. In fact, only 29 percent of Americans can effectively work from home, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics averages from 2017-2018. So, it’s not likely that handshakes and personal meetings will go by the wayside entirely. But we may still see more workers being allowed to work from home—as companies try to become more productive, and workers look to enhance their quality of life by avoiding excessive commutes. Zoom meetings and social distancing practices may be a part of our new normal. And cities may see a slight reversal of urbanization if they continue to be a hotspot for infection and social upheaval. As a result, companies that provide virtual alternatives to stay connected are likely to procure even more investment than they have in recent years.
Known for solutions that yield results, Seth Yakatan has completed or advised on acquisitions and corporate finance transactions totaling over $3 billion. He is the CEO of Katan Associates International— a financial strategy and merchant banking firm that specializes in helping companies achieve commercialization and asset monetization objectives—especially those within life-science and e-commerce sectors. Often acting as an interim CFO, Seth is an author, lecturer and guest speaker on valuation theory and real-world practices.